Genealogy blogger, Sophie Boudarel, who writes La Gazette des Ancêtres, has been running the Challenge A-Z for a while now. We last wrote about it in 2013, when she had fifty participants. The Challenge of 2015 began earlier this month and Madame Boudarel wrote of the breathless anticipation of this year's Challenge among French bloggers: "The tension is mounting for participants and their readers as they prepare for an intense month" of genealogy writing. Perhaps idle interest more than tension. Unbounded imitation of American promotional style can lead one to writing like a pre-Internet sports journalist at a boxing match.
The Challenge is now up to seventy-five enthusiasts and they are having a bit of a struggle. French records are often so nicely structured and organized that it can be hard to find anything new to say about them. To be sure, there is a certain amount of subject repetition among the bloggers taking part, with quite a few writing on :
- Common first names or surnames in a family
- Actes d'état civil (civil registrations) for the letter E
- Brief biographies of family members or histories of towns whose names begin with the next letter in the Challenge
While some of the more peculiar cover:
- The history of the baby bottle
A few people have given up already -- the Challenge is up to H and some have stopped at C or even A.
Ms. Boudarel's coup was to snag the blog of the website of the Bibliothèque nationale, Gallica, as a participant in the game and their contributions are brilliant. Team Gallica have chosen to give for each letter a book or other resource useful to genealogical research that can be found on their website. To date, they have introduced:
- Sources on war veterans
- The Bossu fichier on freemasons (see our post on that)
- The Cabinet des Titres on nobility (our version here)
- Biographical dictionaries (though we have warned about those)
- Lists of World War II prisoners
- Papers from the trenches of World War I
- The Armorial général de France (on which we touched lightly here)
Gallica's contributions to the Challenge should continue to be truly revelatory to the genealogist and we are keen to see the rest of the resources they will propose.
©2015 Anne Morddel