When researching a family, especially one in Paris, we make it a habit to mark each event on a map. We note not only where a birth, marriage or death took place, but every residence given for the principals and the witnesses of such events. If their places of work are given, we note those on the map as well. The resultant picture can be quite revelatory. Finding that people lived very close or far from one another may possibly indicate not so much a relationship as an avenue for further research.
It can be a very difficult process as well, for old cities have gone through many changes. Roads have shrunk, grown, changed names, or been obliterated. Burroughs, or arrondissements, have been redrawn, most frustratingly when Paris was expanded in 1860 from twelve to twenty arrondissements, so that the first arrondissement of 1830 does not cover the same area at all as does the first arrondissement of 1870. A correspondence is required. Paris roads changed names through history but extremely so in the years of the Revolution and the Convention. Buildings also changed use, and this can lead to some surprises.
We have the registration of a child born in 1838 in rue de la Bourbe, Paris. The father was not named, so a midwife made the declaration. She, and one of the witnesses gave their address as the same as that where the child was born but the mother's address was elsewhere.
Rue de la Bourbe no longer exists. In it was an abbey that was converted to be the prison de la Bourbe, also known as the prison de Port-libre, during the Revolution. In 1795, the prison became a maternity hospital (one can draw some very telling conclusions about attitudes of the day from this association of ideas and these transformations) and a home for foundlings aged under two years and their wet-nurses.
La Maternité de Port-Royal, as it became, developed into a midwifery school as well, in 1814, reducing the number of beds for women from about 500 to 328. It changed little for the rest of the nineteenth century and now forms part of a large medical centre.
Thus, the child was born in the maternity hospital, where the midwife and one of the witnesses lived. The mother and child would, on leaving, repair to the address given as the mother's residence on the registration. Checking the online archives of the Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, we found in the registers both the birth and the entry of the mother into the facility, though neither gave more that the mother's surname on a long list of surnames.
Always dig deeper!
©2015 Anne Morddel