Current Affairs

Just Who Benefits In This?

Langue au chat

 You may recall, Dear Readers, that the Fond Coutot, being the largest private archives in France, were the creation of a professional genealogist, Amédée Coutot. He opened up business a bit over twenty years after the fires set by the Paris Commune destroyed the parish and civil registrations of the city. A lack of any birth, death or marriage records would have made his task of finding a family's heirs most trying. Using all that he could find among the records that survived and from many other sources, he and his son after him eventually built an archive of over ten million life events. These are available to the public, for a fee, online at GeneaService.

No expense was spent at all to make this a decent website and, surely, no cost, however great, or however small, was deemed necessary to convert an antiquated index card system into a database with a clear structure and a rational search facility. But for those who have a penchant for neon lime green, no thought of design or presentation was considered necessary. Nevertheless, the data is there and you can access it, eventually.

Now, Geneaservice offers a new option to its weary and exhausted users: that of uploading their family tree on their "Ma Famille" page. Here, you are encouraged to enter details from your family tree, up to your relations of the sixth degree. The enticement is that you may be discovered as an heir to a fortune. How can that be? Because the data you enter will also be available to professional probate genealogists to view in their search for heirs to estates.

We find this to be somewhat abusive, as well as a rather feeble effort at data mining. In our last post, we pointed out that French probate genealogists are heir hunters who demand a cut of the inheritance before they will put an heir in contact with the notaire in charge of the estate. We also pointed out that many such businesses are struggling to make ends meet. What better way to reduce research costs and increase the pool of patsies than to get family historians to provide their research at no cost? And there is the chance to doubly hit the dupes by charging them a percentage of a possible inheritance based on their own research.

We are a strong supporter of the superb volunteer community of French genealogists and we encourage our readers to be aware of the enormous amount of free websites and information available thanks to these thousands of volunteers' work, and we encourage you all to repay their efforts by sharing your genealogy work in return and by joining their societies or cercles. This GeneaService caper, however, is something to avoid; as the French say, ce n'est pas correct, ce n'est pas bon.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Is French Probate Genealogy on the Skids*?

Death in France

The eminent genealogy professor, Stéphane Cosson, has written an interesting blog post about the difficulties currently being experienced by French probate genealogists. He informs us that quite a few of them are going broke and his purpose in writing is to suggest a different business model.

Companies and individuals engaging in probate genealogy, (la généalogie successorale,) have, Monsieur Cosson explains, two basic types of projects:

  1. Documenting all heirs to an estate, with appropriate birth, marriage and death registrations, as well as any other relevant documents . These projects are carried out at the request of a notaire who is handling the estate. The fees are set and are rather low. If an heir be missed out by the genealogist, his or her insurance covers the payout due to that heir. This type of project consumes about 60% of a probate genealogist's work, but brings in much less than half the income, often not even covering costs.
  2. Hunting unknown heirs to an estate, which involves finding people related to the deceased but whom no one in the family knows exists. These are the big money projects as, before the genealogist will reveal to the heir the way to collect the inheritance, he or she requires that a contractual agreement be signed, giving over a hefty percentage of the inheritance. 

We have never quite been able to work out the legality of the second type of project for, if by law an heir has a right to an inheritance, surely then anyone who knows of it has an obligation to inform him or her of that inheritance. Placing an obstacle such as a contract that must be signed in the way of that obligation to inform seems to us to be the private medicine approach to the process, or comparable to refusing to tell a person who has the right to vote where he or she may do so until a contract be signed and a fee agreed. Nevertheless, that is how things are here but now, after some two hundred years, it is no longer working so well.

We would like to propose two additional causes of the probate genealogists' troubles to add to Monsieur Cosson's list.

  1. The increasing popularity of family research as a hobby in France means that people now are much more aware of who their relatives are and of any relationship to a person who might leave a tidy sum. Though battles have been fought between knowledgeable heirs and the larger probate genealogy research companies, it seems pretty clear that family historians will probably inform one another of legal procedures to follow to ensure that they will not have to sign contracts and pay fees.
  2. With the increasing influence of North American genealogy practices and styles (note the increased presence of French genealogists at RootsTech and the increasing number of liaisons between FamilySearch and French archives) views of this somewhat parasitic form of genealogy may be changing in France. If one reads the Standards of Practice and Conduct on the website of the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy, the first two points specifically prohibit the most lucrative and desirable type of research project of French probate genealogists:
    1. "Not take a forensic genealogy case on a speculative, contingent, percentage, or outcome-based fee agreement as many jurisdictions have found this constitutes a conflict of interest; 
    2. Not recruit beneficiaries or heirs for my own business, for other firms, or for attorneys..."

Because of the legal requirements concerning the distribution of an estate in France, notaires will always need probate genealogists to document fully all heirs to an estate, as in the first type of project described above. However, the second type of project may be, we posit, on its way out. Some genealogists would have to adapt to avoid suffering, but all heirs would be much better off.


©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


*For our French readers, translation websites interpret this phrase to mean "sur les patins" ("on skates"); non! non! non! non! "On the skids" translates most closely to "être sur le déclin" or "battre de l'aile".



New Developments in the World of Citation

How to cite?

This is very interesting, indeed. We often visit the National Archives of Britain in Kew in order to research the genealogy of French people who have gone to or through Britain. It is a superb, hyper-modern facility, though too far a walk from the Tube station, in our opinion. Yet, in spite of all that modernity, some of the archival codes can be as baffling and as confused as the French codes we have come across in our research and pictured above.

It would appear that the archivists there may have come across the citation Bible, Evidence Explained, by Elizabeth Shown Mills or, perhaps, British genealogists are making increased demand for citation advice. Last month, TNA, as it is known, launched a "major research project", entitled Citation Capture. This project will "explore the nature of academic citations to archival, library, and other heritage collections, otherwise known as Unique and Distinctive Collections (UDC)." Surely, this sounds familiar to those of us who have been studying Ms. Shown Mills's monumental and recently revised work.

TNA will be working with Research Libraries UK and Jisc on this project. "As leaders in our respective fields, The National Archives, Research Libraries UK, and Jisc are well positioned to undertake this work. We would like to invite all interested parties to tender for this exciting work which will provide an invaluable overview of how academic citation practice to UDC collections and the published outputs based on UDC research," says Matt Greenhall, of TNA.

How wonderful that the entire British academic community is working together to determine how to cite non-book sources. We wonder if they have contacted Ms. Shown Mills? How, if at all, will this have an impact upon the recommendations in Evidence Explained for citing British materials? We also wonder when the French archives and libraries will do the same.* Oh! How we wish it would be sooner rather than later.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

*Recall our discussion of French citation last year here and here.

Exciting News About Parisian Genealogy

La Parisienne-Collage

Very exciting news has been announced by the City Council of Paris yesterday. After deliberating the proposal, the mayor has signed the approval of a project for FamilySearch to digitise the very weary microfilm of the "reconstituted" parish and civil registrations of pre-1860 Paris. 

As dedicated readers of this blog will know, the Paris archives, along with quite a lot more, were torched by the Paris Communards in 1871. (Read that story here.) Something between five and eight million records, dating as far back as the 16th century, were destroyed. If your ancestors were from Paris and lived there any time from 1515-1860, their records – in some 5,000 bound registers - were destroyed.

Immediately after the fire, a group of researchers was formed and given the job of finding ways to recreate the information. They worked for 25 years. Copying parish and religious records, they managed to make a nearly complete reconstruction of the information for the years from 1802 to 1860. Working backward, it became much more difficult to find alternatives to copy. Roughly, 2.7 million registrations, or actes, were copied, in this breakdown:
  • 1802-1860 2.4 million actes
  • 1700-1801 2.4 million actes
  • 1600-1699 5000 actes
  • 1550-1599 5 actes
In the middle of war, 1941, the Paris archives began another reconstitution effort to find all available information on all Paris citizens since the Middle Ages not all ready found by the first reconstitution. This brought 200,000 mentions of people, mostly from lawsuits and other judicial records. As people who went to court tended to be those with money, these records preserve the identities of the wealthy and noble more than of everyday folk.
For a while now, it has been possible to search online the index cards to these reconstituted registers on the website of the Paris Archives, as in this example:
Sample reconstituted acte index card
However, it is not possible to see the actual document without going to the Paris Archives and looking at the microfilm. These microfilm rolls, we assure you, are getting exceedingly tattered and the images murky, as you can see:
Sample reconstituted acte
So, this news is exciting in that the images on the microfilm will be preserved for longer via digitising and they will be accessible online on both the FamilySearch website and the website of the Paris Archives. A boon for those researching Parisian ancestors. (Now, this must be something of a black eye for Filae, who are very keen to expand their offerings, and for Geneanet, who host the images of hundreds of Parisian court records. We suspect that the former will work out an indexing deal with the Paris Archives.) Sadly, we have no idea when this will take place but it is terrific news!
©2017 Anne Morddel
French Genealogy

XXIV Congrès national de Généalogie - Shall We Say Muted?


We have just completed our attendance at the three days of lectures and a hall full of stalls that is France's largest genealogy event, the Congrès national de Généalogie, held in Le Havre. It is held every two years in different cities around France and this is our fifth time in attendance.

Some things, such as the celebration of local costume and custom, do not change.



 There were a large number of very interesting lectures, many about the history of Le Havre, which celebrated its five hundredth anniversary this year. Many more, of course, were about genealogical research, with a particular emphasis on France's overseas departments in the Americas.

The salon, or hall of stands and stalls was a mix of commercial genealogy enterprises and regional genealogy associations, the latter being in the majority by a large margin. The mood here was at first subdued and, by the end of the second day, downright gloomy. Attendance on the part of the general public was extremely low. At no point did the aisles ever seem the least bit crowded or even full. To be sure, it was very rainy and blustery weather but that should have proved no obstacle for Le Havre is a sodden city, along with the rest of Normandy. No, there is some other cause, and it may be the same reason that there were almost no French genealogists represented in the hall. Some said there were none at all. There certainly were none at the last Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in Birmingham. Yet there were French professionals at past congresses.

It is our theory that family research (as opposed to heir hunting) genealogy is under threat in France. We have explained probate genealogy. We perhaps did not add that généalogie successorale is a very profitable business, with each heir contacted having to sign a contract to turn over a hefty percentage of the inheritance. Nor did we mention that the business is pretty much sewn up in France by just a few, big companies. The fees of these companies depend upon the fact that 1) they find heirs who would not otherwise have been found and 2) they are the first to inform the heirs of the death that will bring them money.

Clearly, the boom in genealogy as a hobby and interest in France is a threat to the généalogiste successoral. Increasingly, French people are putting online their family trees and genealogical research. Increasingly, they are finding and communicating with one another, even having family gatherings called cousinades. Increasingly, they know when a relative dies and they know their relationship to him or her. Inevitably, the fees for the probate genealogists will suffer, but they are not taking this lying down.

The press, with the indomitable Guillaume de Morant at the vanguard, has angrily reported that the largest of the probate genealogy companies has embarked on a campaign of legally challenging the claims of heirs that they already knew of a death and/or that they already knew of their relationship to the deceased. And they win. In a 2014 case, (reported here) though a family genealogy had been written and shared in 1991, because it was not one hundred per cent complete and perfect, the heir who challenged the probate research company's fee lost and had to pay 14,000 euros, plus costs. In another case, in June of this year, a woman knew of her first-cousin's death and wrote to the notaire handling the inheritance to say so; she refused to sign the contract with the probate genealogy company. They took her to court and she had to pay them 35,000 euros (reported in full here).

There are plenty of French genealogists, many of them very, very good at what they do. They would probably love to attend all possible conferences and congresses, but in a climate where their work could be challenged or obstructed by a large, domineering and litigious company or two, they may wish to pursue a less public route to their clients.

France is a country where, generally, competition is considered a bad thing and the "preservation of tradition" has sometimes crossed the boundary into being cartels and having professions as closed as medieval guilds. It is the land of big power: big companies, big unions, big families, big government. It is not a country that celebrates or encourages individual independence or small business. In spite of the truly fabulous Station F, we do not see how its creator, Xavier Niel, or Macron, or even Moses will change that.

And where does that leave France's genealogists?

©2017 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


French Archives Opt for Openness!

Celebrate French Archives

This really is very big news! The Archives nationales de France have made a choice for openness and have changed the rules for publishing images of items that they hold. We just spent six months corresponding and nagging to obtain permission to use our own photographs of a couple of pages from a file in the archives, hoping that they will enhance an article we hope to publish soon. Six months.

This new decision is a reinterpretation of an existing law and it has its limits. It applies only to those archives that are not covered by someone's copyright and that have passed the time limitations on access to protect privacy and so are open, or librement communicable. Actually, most of what interests genealogists is librement communicable.

What this means is that you may now put on your website and publish in your family genealogies images of archival records that you take from any of the Archives nationales locations or websites. You need not ask permission. There is nothing to pay. As to masking medical details (should you come across any, which is most unlikely) or contacting those who have claims of intellectual property on what you choose to publish, it is now your responsibility to comply with the relevant laws and to obtain the relevant permissions. You must also give the source information for each document shown.

To our knowledge, this does NOT apply to the archives of the individual departments found on the Departmental Archives' websites. Naturally, one hopes that they will follow suit pronto.

You may read the full announcement on the website of the National Archives here. The Ministry of Culture has a similar announcement here. For entertainment, you can read the latter's loopy automatic translation into English, calling the data wanton, as in hussy, here, but you will be thoroughly baffled by the time you get to the end.

This is good news!

©2017 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

2017 Challenge A-Z


Every year in June the French blogger, Sophie Boudarel, launches the genealogy writing encouragement, Le Challenge A-Z. Every year June surprises us and we wish we had been more organised, more prepared and ready to participate, but we never quite are. Those who do participate, however, are writing increasingly interesting blog posts on French genealogy. This year, the best of them all, to our mind, are those by the students on the genealogy diploma course at the University of Nîmes. 

It starts off with great pertinence to you, Dear Readers, with A Comme Amérique, and tells of the research into the life and antecedents of French immigrant to California, Sylvain Bordes. Another, P Comme Pierre Justin, du Jura à la Caroline du Sud, also discusses a French immigrant to America. Other posts discuss the course itself and its director (C comme Cosson, R comme Reprendres ses études one from the point of view of the professor and one from that of the students). There are some that discuss methodology, such as S comme Sortie du Territoire, about the Archives diplomatiques, O comme Onomastique, about the study of surnames, and H comme Hypothèques, about the land registry archives.

There are posts on priests, prostitutes, bandits and embroiderers. All are extremely well presented, with source notes where appropriate and with excellent illustrations (though they can be, at times, a bit lurid for our delicate sensitivities). Every one of them is an excellent read.


©2017 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Could DNA Testing for Genealogy Be Permitted in France?

Photo 51

Tomorrow we go to the polls again in France, this time for the run-off election for the legislature. All predictions say that the party of the newly elected President Emmanuel Macron, La République en March! (REM), will be the winner. This is expected to give President Macron (who is referred to by the press as "The Kid") a majority of supporters among legislators that could lead to many of his proposals becoming law.

President Macron is an educated man with an appreciation for sound science. While still campaigning, he issued a video in English encouraging American scientists, particularly disappointed climate scientists, to come to France, where their work would be supported, encouraged and, best of all, funded. 


Since becoming president, he has made a number of pro-science moves, including the "Make Our Planet Great Again", which offers foreign scientists four-year grants worth up to one and a half million euros each to come to France to do their research.

Is this a new Enlightenment? If so, will it open the door to DNA testing for genealogical purposes here? To date, such testing has been banned in France on grounds that it could be a violation of bioethics, as we explained in this post. Now, however, many in the French genealogy community, with the well-known Guillaume de Morant at the vanguard, have launched a petition asking parliament to review and change the restriction. Those of you who have attempted to trace French ancestors via DNA testing are aware of the shallowness of the French DNA pool in genealogy databases, (in spite of some one hundred thousand French people per year using the post to have foreign companies test their DNA). Should you wish to see this improve, we suggest that you sign the petition.

It will be interesting to see how far the pro-science stance of the new President and legislature will reach.

©2017 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy 

Study to Become a French Genealogy Expert


The bilingual, English/French diploma course in French Genealogy at the University of Nîmes was inaugurated a few years ago. A year and a half ago, we discussed here its plans for improvement and were grateful to receive your enlightening comments and suggestions. We passed those on the the eminent French Genealogist, Monsieur Stéphane Cosson, and the others working with him to revise and improve the course. We find it more flexible and the explanation to be more focused. Whether you may be interested in voyaging to France to study or in the distance learning course, we think that this course could prove invaluable.

Monsieur Cosson has sent us the description of the new course and we are happy to present it here, hoping that some of you budding French genealogists will take the opportunity to learn how it is done by those in the know. The application period for the distance learning programme is open now!


A French Degree in “Genealogy and Family History”

Offering adequate training in research techniques is crucial and should be made available to all genealogists regardless of their personal level of experience: indeed, Genealogy is not just about computing a collection of dates. There is a world of exciting data waiting to be discovered, far more informative than the collaborative indexing or scanned documents that can be found on the Internet, on websites for Departmental Archives, etc. To really uncover the lives of our ancestors, one must learn where to look in order to make new discoveries and how to better understand the past.

With this in mind, the University of Nîmes is offering several college degree programs, which you will find listed below. Our objective is to offer the most complete training possible in Genealogy, whether you consider yourself a beginner or a professional. To achieve this goal, the team of University Professors is supplemented by Mr. Stéphane Cosson, a professional genealogist since 2000, who brings his expertise to our programs and shares his experience with our students.

Internship opportunities :

Students who wish to do so are welcome to do an internship while registered for our program. However this is not a requirement, as it is not part of our program description. Those who intend to do an internship will obviously acquire additional professional experience in the field. Note that finding an internship is the student’s responsibility; it needs to be directly related to Genealogy, and the internship must take place during the current academic year (ending no later than 30 September). Please let your head professor know that you plan do an internship and contact the “Formation Continue” department so they can deliver the necessary training agreement. After the internship is completed, students will be expected to report to the university, either verbally or in writing, depending on his or her geographical constraints. 

The University of Nîmes’ History Department offers a University Degree program (called D.U. in French = Diplôme Universitaire) in Généalogie & Histoire des Familles, specialized in Family History and Genealogy. It includes theoretical and practical classes, the details of which can be found on the website of the University (, "training").

Our Training Programs :

There are two different sessions available:

  1. Face-to-Face Program: classes are held on Fridays (all day) and Saturday mornings, from January to June 2018. Prospective students must apply online during the month of October prior to each session (on the site). A Selection Committee meets in early November and admission results are known in mid-November.

Note : Toward the end of the semester, students of our Face-to-Face Program gather in small groups for 5 days of intensive research at the Archives Départementales du Gard; they are required to establish the (most) complete genealogy of a local historical figure and need to work on this project as a team. This work is specific to the Face-to-Face Program.

Applications are to be submitted online between October 1st and 31st, 2017 on the university’s website at: ; the Selection Committee meets in early November.

All classes are held from January to June 2018.

Registration fees for the Face-to-Face Program:

  • Unimes students (initial training): €150
  • Students without funding (personal training): €1,200
  • Students with funding (continuous training): €1,600
  1. Distance Learning Program: training takes place remotely with access to courses online via a dedicated digital teaching platform. However the presence (remotely) is desired during some planned group sessions (usually Friday afternoons) for courses that require hands-on learning. Courses can also be provided in writing or filmed in advance.

The presence of students on the university site of Nîmes is required at the beginning of the session (for a first gathering and presentation), as well as for the exams which will take place in January (on consecutive days). If students residing abroad or in the DOM-TOM, wish to take the exams near their home, they will be able to do so at their own expenses. Please contact your nearest French Consulate or the French Alliance to enquire.

Applications are to be submitted online between May 1st to 31st, 2017, on the university’s website at: ; the Selection Committee meets in early June.

Classes are held from September 2017 to January 2018.

Computer and Technical Prerequisites before applying for our Distance Learning Program:

This distance learning program insists on a few prerequisites that are essential for you to make the most of your classes. To better assist you in your studies, your digital identity UNIMES (ID + password + email will be issued before your first classes. This will allow you to benefit from the services we offer (i.e. dedicated website, videoconferencing…) throughout the University calendar year.

Moreover, during the initial gathering in Nîmes, a specific learning session will introduce you to all the UNIMES training tools that will be used during your online and remote classes (e.g. the teaching platform and video-conferencing tool). You will also be taught how to navigate on the dedicated website, and where to find data so you can start studying at your own pace.

Below are all of the necessary and mandatory elements to be able to follow this online training:

Computer knowledge :

We would like to draw your attention to a few fundamentals in order to ensure the success of your e-learning:

  • A good knowledge of your environment, Windows or Mac
  • Being comfortable with internet browsing and peripheral devices (keyboard, mouse, microphone headset and webcam)
  • The ability to install and update traditional software programs
  • The ability to set up and use a webcam
  • The ability to set up and use a microphone headset

Equipment :

  1. Your internet connection must have a sufficient flow to allow you to follow this training online smoothly and in a comfortable way. A 512 kbps ADSL connection is the minimum required.       Connecting your computer to your internet network must be wired in remote clusters and remains highly recommended when interacting with the platform of UNIMES online courses (the Wi-Fi is to be avoided).
  1. A PC or Mac (or laptop) computer with the following items:
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1 card his
  • 1 output for wired connection to the internet
  1. An up-to-date operating system:
  • for a PC: Windows system with a version 7 to 10 but no Windows XP version
  • for a Mac: the Mac OS has a version of 10.8 to 10.10.
  1. A headset with a microphone : headphones with built-in mic, avoids the effects of echoes during your speech in grouping to distance and limited background noise which can interfere with other users.
  1. A webcam

Up-to-date software and plugins:

  • Adobe Flash Player (minimum version: 11.2): to attend online classes
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (up to date): to open PDF documents
  • VLC: to play the videos online or downloaded
  • an Office suite with at least:
  • a word processor (Word, free Office Writer, Open Office Writer or Page for Mac)
  • spreadsheets (Excel, Open Office Calc, Open Office Calc or even Numbers for Mac)
  • a presentation software (Power Point, free Office Impress, Open Office Impress, or Keynote for Mac)

At least the two following browsers (with the latest updates):

- Google Chrome (strongly recommended during group classes in video-conference)

- Firefox (if Chrome has failed)


The objective of this degree, whether in face-to-face or at a distance, is to offer a complete training, both practical and theoretical, in the science of Genealogy in order to allow all those who exercise it, in a private setting, to gain in effectiveness, and on the other hand to facilitate students in Law and History with their arrival on the labor market.

Educational Objectives:

Theoretical training revolves around three axes:

  • A general training in French Modern History to ensure that students acquire the knowledge fundamentals needed to navigate through our past;
  • Training in law, more particularly in the history of Family Law;
  • Training in historical sciences: Paleography, Onomastics, and Heraldry.

Practical training: it will be up to each student to conduct specific research at their local Archives on the history of a person or a family, using all records available, including: military, judicial, administrative, school, etc.


Each training unit, theoretical and practical (personal research project), will be sanctioned by a grade. A final grade will be calculated using specific coefficients for each grade. Admission to the University degree will be made by obtaining a score greater than or equal to 10/20.

The Distance Learning Program in “Genealogy & Family History” destined to English-speaking students can only be conducted if a minimum of 15 students are registered.

These classes provide training and knowledge to an English-speaking audience interested in learning the tools to search for their European roots; among other items, methodology sheets, lexicons, and summaries of classes will be translated into English and supplied to students to help them move forward on their genealogy projects, even when dealings with sources in Old French and Latin.

Exams taking place abroad will entail extra costs that will be charged to students.

Registration fees: €1,700 per semester.


Of course, should any of you make the journey to pursue the course here in France, do contact us to meet for a coffee!

©2017 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


French Archives and Reuniting Families Torn Apart


Refugees from war, oppression, persecution and cruelty can wander this world for an increasingly long time before they can find kindness, acceptance and help from those who, through a twist of fate, have been more fortunate. An added cruelty to the blighted lives of refugees can be the wrenching apart of families, of parents separated from children, of husbands from wives, siblings from one another, by fenced borders, arbitrary rulings, violent invasions, resettlement policies. As if they were clinging to different bits of wreckage in the open sea, they are pulled further and further apart. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have for some time been running a programme to help such families, called Restoring Family Links (Rétablissement des Liens familiaux), using the acronym RFL. They use a variety of documents, photographs and records in their effort to help refugees and migrants reconnect with or at least know what happened to their lost relatives.

At the end of last year, the French government relented a bit in its fierce protection of individuals' privacy (which has, as we have written before, imposed a closure of birth, marriage and death records for a significant period of time to protect the privacy of all persons mentioned in them) and passed a law allowing the nation's archives to grant RFL access to the closed archives for the purpose of reuniting families. This is explained in full on the LinkedIn page of Marie Ranquet, the curator of the Archives de France. A laudable bit of humanitarianism, we find.

We are contacted fairly regularly by people seeking to find missing family members. They tend not to be the refugees or migrants of today's disasters, but older people whose families were divided by earlier events and migrations. Where their searches have required access to more recent French records, we have been unable to help. This new legislation could provide some hope and possibly some success to those of you who have presented us with such quests. 

The RFL will help anyone whose family was separated by migrations and wars  -- including World War Two -- or crises or attendant bureaucratic cruelties. Try the RFL search, which is very simple and easy to use, and is in English, French and other languages, to begin the process. We wish you the best of luck.

©2017 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy