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Brozer Flips French Genealogy

So much information!

Imagine if, instead of building a family tree based on traditions, stories, gossip, and other peoples' online trees and then trying to find the documentation to prove it, you could reverse the process and start with the documents that concern your family. This really would not work with the often quite scanty birth, marriage and death records of many countries, but it would work very well with the French records that are so often lushly bedecked with detail. (Click on the example above to wallow in that wealth.)

This is the premise for the start-up (yes, Virginia, there are start-ups in France) Brozer. Essentially it is based on the same concept of document-based genealogy versus person-based genealogy as is Clooz, but the Brozer software was written by Nicolas Lawriw specifically for French documentation. The goal of Lawriw's Brozer is to have on the site a single, universal family tree, built collaboratively by volunteers who index documents that have been uploaded on Brozer's TéléArchives site. Thus, no one uploads a personal family tree. Instead, users upload their documents and enter all the details and the software works to identify the persons named and match them with other references to them from other records. An indisputable, perfectly sourced, single family tree is envisioned.

Will it work? It is such early days yet that the collaborative part is not yet operating. It will not be cheap to join this human genealogy tree project; the annual charge is to be twenty-five euros. An extravagant number shall have to join and work with energy and proper diligence to enter enough detail for the tree to take shape enough so that others will wish to join and contribute as well. 

We suspect that this glorious cooperative effort flies in the face of many people who pursue genealogy precisely because it is something that they can do on their own, and precisely because they hope to beat others to some discovery or other. What fun would they have if research were not necessary and all of their ancestors were indubitably presented on Brozer's tree?

Monsieur Lawriw may be the man who transforms genealogy from an art to a science, but there are those who have their doubts that this approach will be able to resolve the conundrums that come about when there are many people of the same name at the same time in the same place and all have claim to being one's ancestor. Brigitte, of Chroniques d'Antan et d'Ailleurs, discusses just this point on her blog. Dominique Chadal thinks things will only become more confused.

However Brozer may fare, TéléArchives is off to a rip-roaring start and there is no debate as to its usefulness. Not only have a number of genealogy cercles and associations uploaded images of documents, but the city of Nîmes has uploaded images of all of its civil registrations from 1793 to 1910 and its census returns from 1813 to 1911, basically using TéléArchives rather than bothering to maintain its own website, and gaining the possibility of indexing in the bargain. Brozer has uploaded a large number of records for the department of Gard (and many, many thanks to our Dear Reader, Madame F, in Australia for bringing this to our attention).

One must register to use TéléArchives, but they are free and fascinating. We suggest following Brozer on Twitter, as it is there that they announce new uploads and developments. Seeing just how Brozer develops will be very interesting, indeed.

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy