Solving Riddles With Géopatronyme
French Archives Opt for Openness!

New Uploads to Help Find an Orphaned Heir in Paris

Deep Mourning Collage

The symbiotic partnership that exists between Geneanet and Familles Parisiennes continues to bring good things for anyone researching Parisian ancestors. The latest contribution, almost all made by a single person, one Monique Drouhin, who must be a dynamo as well as remarkable, consists of images of very early nineteenth century court records from the Parisian justice of the peace courts, including guardianship records.

There are a few key facts you must know before tackling these new delights:

  1. The courts of the Justice of the Peace in France were set up in 1790 and lasted until 1958. They were established to be a local court where people could take their family disputes and small cases, something of a small claims court and family court combined. With these courts, poorer people did not have to travel great distances and stay at inns in order to prosecute their claims. There was one justice of the peace court for each canton. In Paris, there was one for each arrondissement or borough.
  2. Paris now has twenty arrondissements but in 1790 and until 1860, there were twelve, and their boundaries were completely different from what they are today. The Paris Archives give an excellent concordance for the old and new arrondissements. This will be needed if you wish to find the correct court used by your ancestors. If you have their address, you can find the current arrondissement for that road and then with the concordance, the old arrondissement number. (Most Paris streets and their history now have a page on Wikipedia and the current arrondissement is given there. This is easier than Google maps for this purpose.)
  3. Geneanet has improved enormously since we last disparaged it here, many years ago. The nasty advertisements are gone, the searches are much, much better and it really has the best collection of family trees in France now. (So good are they that Clément Becle, a young cardiologist who writes a very interesting family history blog has written a long post about why he has moved his data and tree from Heredis Online to Geneanet.) Geneanet is not free and charges a fee for just about everything EXCEPT for the images uploaded by Projet Familles Parisiennes. Thus, the uploads that are the subject of this post are free to view.
  4. While Projet Familles Parisiennes has an alphabetical index of all family names that appear in the thousands of pages uploaded, not all pages have been indexed. Thus, documents concerning the name you are researching may be available but you will not know it as they are not yet indexed. If you know an address or a related name, however, you might have some luck. 

This group of documents are most easily accessed -- until they will be fully indexed -- via the page of links on Geneawiki. There, the documents are arranged firstly by the old arrondissement numbers and then by the new ones, in chronological order. The date range of what has been filmed so far is 1791 through 1813, but is different for each arrondissement.

These come from a deep and not easy to understand part of the Paris Archives and are a wonderful addition to Paris resources online. Do let us know if you have some success!

To learn more about researching Parisian ancestors, see our booklet on the subject.

©2017 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy