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Easter Roots Hunt

Have You An Ancestor Who Was In the Paris Commune?

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The streets of Paris are full of demonstrations these days, called manifestations in French. The one in the news is over a very politically charged subject, though one might be forgiven for wondering if it were not really about the provenance of a colour. Which brought us to another demonstration, last week, to commemorate the 142nd anniversary of the Paris Commune.
To date, we have written of the Paris Commune only in reference to the Communards' successful torching of the Paris City Hall, the Hôtel de Ville, with the centuries worth of parish and civil registrations within. However, as several thousand Parisians were Communards, many were executed, others exiled, some escaped to neighbouring countries and nearly all affected by the events, perhaps it is time we gave them a bit of attention, genealogically speaking.
Ever so briefly: France lost the Franco-Prussian War, during which Paris had suffered four winter months of siege. The Prussians -- as a part of the surrender agreement --  insisted upon a march through the city to humiliate the inhabitants and the rest of the country. The Parisians were disgusted with the victors and with their own government and those who had suffered the most during the war and siege -- the poor --rose up and took over the city. Similar Communes occurred at the same time in Lyon and Grenoble. They had the sympathies of many in the army, who often refused to fire on them. The government called in more troops and the rebellion, street by street, in ever bloodier battles, was put down. Vengeful executions took place, most notably in the cemetery of Père Lachaise. 
If you trace your family back to Paris in the second half of the nineteenth century, you may well have in your tree a Communard. How to know? The website of Les Amis de la Commune de Paris 1871 has lists of some of them, along with :
  • Dates of cultural events such as plays, concerts, exhibitions, relating to the Paris Commune, and there are plenty!
  • Scholarly articles about the Paris Commune and /or various Communards
  • A fun map with little flags and important dates
  • A list of streets named after individual Communards
  • Dates of guided tours around the city's more important spots of Paris Commune history
  • A very thorough history section on every aspect of the Paris Commune that also tells of where the best sources are in the archives 
  • Videos and Songs
  • Most useful of all, a list of the names of those Communards who were condemned in military courts and executed. The case files from which the list is derived are held at the Service Historique de la Défense in series 8 J. This list gives the file numbers, to enable a request to be made. Click on the icon at the bottom of the page of the following link that is called Consulter le fichier SHD 8 J to download the entire list.

Very fine site indeed.

Update: Inspired by Madame A-M's comment below, we have discovered this blog about the deportees of the Commune, Les Déportés de la Commune, and think it looks very good.

©2013 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy