Receiving FGB Posts

Dear Readers,

You may have noticed that you do not receive anymore our new posts in your e-mail inboxes. The service that organized that no longer exists. We have tried alternative services without success. Additionally, we have cancelled our accounts with facebook and Twitter, so no notices of posts have been going out that way.

We have decided that we will send links to new posts via Patreon. A membership to support the blog costs just 1€ per month. This means that only Patreon supporters will receive news of a post. In essence, the blog remains free but a subscription that informs you of new posts will cost one euro per month. If you do not wish to pay for a subscription, you can still check the blog pages regularly to read new posts for free,. However, your support would be greatly appreciated and would help to keep the blog uncluttered by advertisements. You can subscribe to the blog on Patreon here:

Thank you all for your continued support of The FGB.


Did Your French Ancestor Serve in a Foreign Army?

French in Foreign Armies

This was a happy discovery and could be of help to those of you whose ancestor left France during the Revolution and First Empire, or even before, to serve in a foreign army. Some of you have written of the difficulty of finding an ancestor's military record for such service, or even of knowing in which army, of which country he may have served. You are not alone; Napoleon wanted to know the same thing. So he issued a decree requiring all such men to report such service to the police générale, bringing us to our favourite series in the Archives nationales, the F/7 series, in the building in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine. There, in cartons beginning with the number F/7/6127, one can find numerous lists of men, both those who declared their service and those who did not,  made by the police, as well as many complete declaration or investigation dossiers.

Officers in the service of Austria

Each department's police had to submit a list. Recall that, during the First Empire, parts of Italy and Belgium, as well as Germany were departments of France.

1810 list of Blegian officers in Austria

They can be simple, with only a name, as here:

Belgian officers in Austria

They can be quite a bit more informative, as this list of French officers serving Austria, Spain or Prussia, which gives a little bit of service history:

French officers in Austria  Spain  Prussia

If you are lucky, there will be a dossier on your ancestor, with much more, such as this one on Ambrozy (or Ambrosis or Abroise), an Italian serving England and who was condemned for it.

Ambrozy Ambrosis Ambroise serving England

Or this, a dossier on Louis Charles Beaufort, born in Paris, a retired major who had served in the Austrian army.

Louis Charles Beaufort serving Austria

These are not digitized, nor have the names in the alphabetic cartons of dossiers been listed anywhere. Here is how they appear in the finding aid:

Finding Aid

If you have reason to suspect that there may be a dossier on your ancestor, you can write to the archives and ask them to copy it, giving the correct code from the list above. They will either tell you there is no such file or send you a bill to pay in order to receive the copy. Unfortunately, they will not search through the lists for you.

A story in every dossier - nice find!

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 9 - Marie Fouyol, Parisian wife of Thomas Mansell, part 12 - Research Bits and Bobs

Marie Fouyol Signature

Poor Marie Fouyol, we have not yet found her origins or her birth place or family. However, this is not for lack of endeavour, for we have not forgotten her. Each time we visit archives where there may be a ray of hope of finding her, either in her own name or in that of her husband, Thomas, Mansell, we do look. To bring you up to date on this conundrum of a Free Clinic case, here is where we have looked during the last few months:

In the Archives de la Préfecture de la Police de Paris:

  • AA/48 - 266 - Statements and letters from the police of each of the Paris sections. (1789-1820)

In the Service Historique de la Défense at Vincennes, continuing with the dossiers on other weavers allowed to remain in Paris in the Yj series:

  • William Oswald
  • John Gillet
  • James Spencer
  • John Lane

In the Archives nationales:

  • F/7/3507 - Passports for the interior and foreigners June 1808 to Sept 1810
  • F/7/3324 - Police, requests for residence, Me-My, 1791 to 1954
  • F/7/3323 - Police, requests for residence, Lh-Ma, 1791 to 1954
  • F/12/4861 - Archives of the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers. (an III-1866)

We wrote earlier that we had checked the register of people allowed to live in Paris and that he was not there. Then, on a subsequent visit, as we wrote in our last post, we discovered that there was a register that included British with Swedish people allowed to stay in Paris during the First Empire (F/7/2250). There, we found Marie's husband, listed as Thomas Mansille:


Unfortunately, it tells us no more than we had discovered from previous sources, and nothing at all about Marie Fouyol.

And so, the hunt goes on. We think that a very good place to search, but it would be a long and difficult job, would be in the succession registers on the website of the Archives de Paris.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy



Enjoying the Enemy's Elegance During War - Finding Your Foreign Ancestor in Paris

Place du Chatelet

As with every war in Europe, it seems, while battles are fought, ships filled with me are sunk, and people are slaughtered, there is always a contingent to be found partying with impunity in Paris. During the Napoleonic Wars, a rather significant number of enemy nationals, especially British, lived comfortably in Paris. Some were technicians whose expertise was so valued by the French that they were allowed to live in Paris and other cities and to practice their trade, so long as they taught all of their skills and secrets to their French counterparts. Some were so wealthy and owned so much property in France that they were friends with those in the highest realms of First Empire society (and were permitted to bribe the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the all-powerful Talleyrand) and feared neither surveillance nor expulsion. Some were prisoners of war or detenus granted parole who could afford Paris and whose requests to live on parole there had been granted. (Many such requests were not granted, others were but only for vastly less glamourous cities.)

The partying folk of wartime Paris were not limited to the British, by any means. There also were Swedish, Prussian, German, Russian, Turkish, Polish, Spanish, Italian and many more foreign nationals living in Paris under police surveillance. The Police Générale kept registers on all of those under surveillance, noting the names, sometimes the addresses, and often a few details on those being watched. Sometimes, these registers offer the only surviving documentation on a foreigner in Paris during this period (recall the fire of 1871 that destroyed so many Parisian records about people).

These police surveillance registers (codes F/7/2248 through 2254) are not online but must be viewed, on microfilm, in the Archives nationales at Pierrefitte. We will be going there in three days' time and, by way of thanks to our patrons on Patreon, we will look up your ancestor in the registers and send you as good a photograph of the microfilm as we can manage. Send us the full name and the nationality before the 16th of November. With luck, we will find the person you seek.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Geneanet's Humour Collection

Rire comme un baleine

Somehow, one gets the feeling that the people running Geneanet are a bit more intelligent and a bit wittier than the other commercial genealogy websites. They seem actually to enjoy history and genealogy rather than to be solely interested in profiting from genealogists' research needs.

They have a delightfully quirky category entitled "Archives insolites" or "Unusual Archives", which is something of a misnomer. The images uploaded are not of a single archival collection; they are images of individual parish and civil register entries that have been submitted by users either because they are oddly humourous or because they are quite unusual.

Recall that French burial and death register entries almost never give a cause of death. In birth register entries, the only comment beyond the facts is as to legitimacy. So, to find an entry that gives something more, something out of the usual pattern is unusual and interesting. For example:

A sad account, of interest to medical historians of a cesarian section, followed by the death of the mother.


A humourous account of a bishop scolding an ecclesiastic for engaging in hunts.


Unusual weather, such as snow in June, may be noted.


Often, the examples are quite sad, exhibiting the great struggles of this life. Too often, they exhibit the prejudices of the time and, in the comments, of our own time. Still, they can be both educational and entertaining, so do have a read. Perfect for a rainy afternoon.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Online Archives from the Archives Diplomatiques at Last

Arch Dip Microfilm

How long we have been awaiting this one, and it is not quite here yet, but the signs are hopeful, hopeful, indeed. For a good ten years, the Archives diplomatiques have been promising that, "very soon", the overseas civil registrations (prior to 1891) would be available online. For at least a decade, their website has held little more than a dull notice of that same promise.

No, Dear Readers, those registrations are not online (and one must still use the microfilm rolls shown above) but there is a significant new look to the website. We have noticed a new design, improved search facility and options and the beginnings of digitization of some of their wonderful archival materials.

  • Many military registration records for Tunisia are being uploaded. If you are researching an ancestor who was a French citizen, no matter where he was born, and who was living in Tunisia when he turned twenty and had to register, you have a good chance of finding him here.
  • Documents and photographs concerning the art stolen by the Nazi occupiers during the Second World War and the effort to retrieve it. Not exactly useful for your genealogical research, unless it were your family's art that was stolen.
  • Documents and photographs pertaining to the French government in exile during World War Two. Just the beginnings, here, covering a visit by Soustelle to Mexico.
  • A database of treaties signed with France. Great fun, as with this 1419 treaty between the Duke of Burgundy and the King of England. Be sure to type in the French name of your country when you search.

Ten years is a long wait, and it is not over yet. Keep checking the website and do let us know should you get lucky.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Family Disputes Found in Notarial Acts Bring Joy to the Genealogist

French Family Disputes

Ah, Dear Readers, notarial records can yield such delights of familial disharmony, as they document spitefulness, resentment, vengeance or, most useful of all, the fierce desire of some to cheat their nearest and dearest of every last sou to be found amongst the clan. Our example comes from the notarial archives of Paris, the Minutier Central des Notaires de Paris in the Archives nationales. In the carton with the code MC/ET/XV/1645  (MC = Minutuer central. ET = étude. XV = 15, the number in Roman numerals of the étude. 1645 = the carton number of that étude's archives.)*

Reconnaissance Barrière

The document reveals that Françoise Eléonore Barrière, a woman who had buried three husbands, finally succumbed herself and was buried in Paris in 1819. Her sister, Magdeleine Thérèse, claiming to be her only heir, quickly requested that a death inventory be made of the deceased's effects. It was done and in it, she was named as the only heir to the estate. However, there was a son and, though he lived somewhat remotely on the Île d'Oléron, he got wind of his mother's death and his aunt's shenanigans. Of unpleasant portent for Magdeleine Thérèse, he was a "man of law", and he was annoyed. He arrived with a copy of his baptism register entry (nicely included in the act) and his mother's cousin, Marie Françoise Durand, Madame Girault of Orléans. 

Leonard Marie Durand

It proves that he, Léonard Marie Durand, born in Paris on the fifth of January 1764, was the legitimate son of Françoise Eléonore Barrière and her (first) lawful husband François Durand. (A different copy of his baptism survives in the "reconstituted" registers of Paris and can be seen on the website of the Archives de Paris here (go to image number fifty).  Therefore, the act concluded, the first inventory was wrong and the sister was not the sole heir of Françoise Eléonore Barrière, widow of Pierre-Henri Mulet de la Girouzière (her third husband), the son was the sole heir.

This act of recognition (acte de reconnaissance, which normally serves quite a different purpose) required that Magdeleine Thérèse Barrière recognize that her nephew existed and was the sole legitimate heir. She did not show her face. She sent a representative, duly authorized, who signed for her.

This family is not easy to research, so how very nice to come across a single document that gives so much genealogical information. Dear Readers, we shall never cease to tout the value of notarial acts and we urge you never to cease looking for any that may relate to your research.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

*See our booklets on Notarial Records and Parisian Genealogy to learn more about this type of research.

Finding French Ships' Crew Lists of the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries - in Britain


If you have been researching a French seaman of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, then you are well aware of just how difficult it can be to find out about his career. We have been working on seamen for some time and have written about ways to search for them in a number of posts:

  • If he were an officer in the Marine, or Navy, you will have some luck, as we have written here.
  • We wrote here about a guide to researching Breton seamen.
  • We wrote here about finding a naval vessel on which your seaman may have served.
  • These books tell of hundreds of French officers and sea captains.
  • The Le Havre passenger lists also contain crew lists, as we explained here. (It is maddening and mysterious that absolutely no one reads this post attentively.)
  • For the names of those French who fought in the American Revolution, including sailors, we refer you to the book, Combattants français de la guerre americaine 1778-1783.

However, we have not yet come across crew lists of French privateers in any French archive; yet there are hundreds of such crew lists in the National Archives of Great Britain in Kew. They are within the ships' papers captured with the vessel in the days of taking ships as prizes during war. Most of the French prizes were, themselves, privateers but some were merchant vessels. Unfortunately, they are not online, but we explain here how you can request copies.

Find them by going to the online catalogue of the National Archives ("TNA") website. In the box of what to search for, enter the phrases: "Captured ship" "Nationality French". If you are lucky enough to know the name of the ship, enter that as well. Narrow the search by entering the years during which you think your French seaman may have been active. The result will look something like this and all of  the ships will be in the Prize Court series of the High Court of Admiralty.

The papers are arranged alphabetically by the vessel's name and the master's surname. There are many cases to a carton. Each case can be a thick bundle of papers.

French Crew Lists


Our example is the Général Pérignon, a most successful privateer. She was captured in 1810, with all of her papers. The first page of the crew list shows:

  • Alain Gilles Nicolas, captain, from Plévenon, aged forty-nine
  • François Eude Dessaudrais, from Saint-Malo, Mate, aged forty
  • Gabriel Zenon Verrier, first lieutenant, from Cap Français, aged twenty-five
  • Yves Guilho, first lieutenant, from Bordeaux, aged fifty
  • Jean Baptiste Battur, second lieutenant, from Saint Servan, aged fifty
  • François Tissier, second lieutenant, from Pléhérel, aged thirty-nine

General Perignon Crew List 1810

There are eleven pages, listing every crew member in the same way, right down to the ship's boys. 

By creating an account with TNA online, once you find your ship, you can request copies of the prize papers, asking for the French crew list only, if you wish.

Naturally, the great difficulty comes if you do not know your man's ship. Other search strategies that you might try, in addition to narrowing the date to ships that sailed during his lifetime, as mentioned above, are:

  • If you know the names of his wife and some of the men of her family, search online the names of the men to see if they turn up as captains or as privateers (corsaires). You could find them linked to a vessel. One of their names might appear as the master of a captured vessel in the TNA search. Seamen often sailed on family vessels and researchers often forget that the wives had families.
  • Examine closely the marriage and death register entries you have for him. Sometimes, a vessel is named.

Recently, we met an enthusiastic cheerleader for FamilySearch who asked us to suggest to him what archival collections we would like them to film. We prepared a long list that included the captured crew lists described here. We wrote to him some weeks ago. He must be very busy or very rude or the victim of some silencing crime, for we never received a reply. So, Dear Readers, we must continue our hunt the hard way, for now.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

A Few British Workers Discovered in the Police Archives of Paris

Mirror making 2

Image source:


Wouldn't you know it, Dear Readers, that the moment we finish our talk on finding British prisoners of war in France during the Napoleonic Wars in French archives, we stumble upon a few more. Truly, they pop up everywhere, (which was the point of our talk).

The tiny archives of the Paris police, les Archives de la Préfecture de Police, is amongst our favourites. The collection is small but always interesting and the staff are eagerly helpful. It is in such a remote place at the end of such an awkward journey, that the few researchers who succeed in completing the marathon to get there are all quite dedicated and keen, the frivolous and mildly curious having given up many Mètro stops earlier. It is also one of the few archives that has some series organized by the Sections of Paris, which is most useful when researching people of the Revolutionary and First Empire eras.

Buttes des Moulins

Here, we found police dossiers on some British people who had been living and working in Paris. Unlike so many, they were not all in the textile trades. Living in section Invalides, John Bond, aged thirty-five, and John Farrands, aged forty, both worked in a factory making mirrors on the Ile des Cygnes. [This was not the modern Ile aux Cygnes, but was a different island, where "insalubrious trades", such as malodorous tripe shops, were permitted, and that is now partially submerged in the Seine]. The twenty-six-year-old Thomas Quine was a carpenter at the mirror factory. At the other end of the economic spectrum, in the Hôtel de la Haie, on rue Saint Dominique, lived a young English gentleman named Trench, his wife and their servants.

The police took statements from them all but did not arrest them under the law of May 1803, that required the arrest of all British males in France. We wrote about these détenus here.

John Moore, however, who was living in rue de Charenton, in section Quinze-vingts with his wife, Eliza Jane Anderson, endured a different fate. He ran a factory for making tulle. A Monsieur Terlay claimed that the tools and machines within the factory actually belonged to him. In Brumaire an XIII (October 1804) the police entered and made a very complete inventory of said tools and machines, which was signed by Moore's wife.

Eliza Jane Anderson signature

Could this possibly be the same John Moore, escaped détenu, who was arrested by the French for bigamy in 1808? That would require quite a bit more research.

These little dossiers do not contain a great many such enemy aliens in France during the Napoleonic Wars but, should one be your ancestor, it could be a great find in a somewhat obscure archive.

We do like obscure archives.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy



We Greatly Enjoyed the AGRA 2023 Conference

AGRA - Cambridge

We have returned from quite the junket, of which the highlight may well have been the AGRA Conference this month, at Downing College in Cambridge. It began with a gala dinner and cheery talk by Sam Willis; we had the pleasure of sitting next to the dauntingly erudite Monsieur F, who was most flattering about The FGB. The following day was one of talks, presentations and panel discussions, every one of which we found to be interesting and suggestive of applicabilities to French genealogy research.

This applicability was something rather unexpected, as AGRA's focus and membership are dedicated exclusively to archives in Britain. The first talk, by the esteemed Dr. Helen Doe, was on researching shipowners, explaining that many were local businessmen and that the records of ownership could be found in different types of archives from just those concerning vessel registration. Only recently, we have been working on French owners of privateers (more on that in a future post) and Dr. Doe's explanations gave us some new ideas of where, in French archives, to try to find similar documentation.

We followed with our own talk on how to research British prisoners of Napoleon in French archives. Perhaps it contained a bit much for the time allotted. Dr. Lesley Trotter then spoke on the migratory lives of Cornish miners. The research skills that she demonstrated for following the movements of these people were most impressive and could just as easily be applied to tracing the movements of migratory French workers:

  • Studying notices from and about those abroad in the local newspapers of their home towns, including obituaries, marriages abroad and births abroad
  • Looking at census returns for those whose children were born abroad can reveal families that have returned home and where they had lived.
  • Studying newspaper notices about women receiving aid for paupers, as these often explained that their husbands had gone abroad and stopped sending money home. We are unaware of such notices in French local papers but this tactic does inspire us to look at archival records on the subject of aid to paupers, which would give the same information.

Maggie Gaffney then spoke about a single voyage of a single vessel of immigrants to New Zealand. Many of the avenues she pursued could be mirrored in researching French vessels. Lastly, Richard Atkinson spoke with intensity about his research of his ancestors and their wickedness as slave owners in the Caribbean. This ancestry clearly was quite difficult for him to absorb but he ended on a note of quite touching reconciliation. There is much in his use of Jamaican archives that could be applied to similar research in the archives of Martinique and Guadeloupe. He implied that Britain has not yet truly accepted responsibility for the evils of slavery, for the country's vast profits from it, or for the devastating consequences of it that continue today. By way of comparison, many cities in France have begun this path of admission, notably Bordeaux and Nantes. He has written a book on the research and his discoveries, Mr. Atkinson's Rum Contract, which we immediately purchased and are reading avidly. 

We participated in the discussion on the British Merchant Navy and were a bit disheartened to discover that not a soul had ever hear of American seamen being impressed by the Royal Navy, or of the mad war fought to put an end to it. Conversely, we were heartened, indeed, by the warmth and enthusiasm of the attendees for their subject. They really were the most fun group of researchers we have encountered in a very long time.

For those of you who can manage it, we do encourage you to attend AGRA's next offering.


©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy




A Question About French Regions and Provinces, and How to Cite Them

We received the following from Monsieur G.

I have a few small questions...

1) Have you done any articles on the recording of French region names?  Are there any guides that discuss the recording of place names in French genealogy?

2) I notice that many genealogy programs include region names when mapping database entries. This can be confusing, since there have been massive changes to most across the years. Many of the actual historical records only give (at most) the commune, canton, arrondissement and department. Actually; with the exception of census records, they seem most often to give only the commune and department. Now; some departments have been re-defined and renamed, but those cases are far fewer and seem to cause fewer issues. I’m considering just recording the commune, department and country, since the region seems not to add much value.Does this make sense to you?

Monsieur G. has been grappling with this issue for a long time. Some months before the above, he wrote to us with the following:

I do have one thing that still bothers me a bit... the postal code [or] the INSEE code. They are so similar that I often get them confused. Since the INSEE code is unique to a particular city and the postal code isn’t, are some genealogists now starting to append the INSEE code instead? eg. The postal codes for Royan and for St-Suplice-de-Royan are both 17200, but the INSEE code for Royan is 17308 and for St-Suplice-de-Royan it is 17408. So what I’ve seen some do is: Royan (17308).

In one particular instance that I have, the original name in the document was simply, “commune de Baume”. Today, that location is called, "Baume-les-Messieurs”, which has two postal codes; 39210 and 39670. So; I was thinking that by using the INSEE code as in, “Baume [Baume-les-Messieurs (39041)], France”, one would remove all doubt. If the old and new names had been the same, one would use the name with the INSEE code in parentheses. Does this make sense?

Ah, Monsieur G., these are not small questions at all. Dear Readers, there are times in this genealogical life when to be "on the horns of a dilemma" does not begin to describe the citation struggle; we feel it is closer to being like a live worm impaled on a fish hook. Monsieur G. brings up more than a few issues:

  • The fact that nearly all place names in France, from the hamlets and parishes to the provinces and regions, went through not only the gradual changes of time, but an abrupt and radical change of names and boundaries during the Revolution, followed by a slight and selective return to old names. This has been followed by ever-more-often rationalizations and reorganizations that have seen many smaller towns being combined (giving them tediously long names) and larger cities being broken into more and more arrondissements, quarters or other such subdivisions, all of them producing official records that you may wish to cite. Most recently, in our last post, we explained the creation of the departments and the reorganized regions. How to correctly and clearly cite a place that changed its name from Saint-Port in the province of Ile-de-France before the Revolution to Seine-Port in the department of Seine-et-Marne in the region of Ile-de-France today? 
  • INSEE is France's National Institute of Statistic and Economic Studies. It was founded in 1946. Even before its founding, the first list of unique codes for towns, or communes, was published in 1943. There also are codes for all of the arrondissements, departments, regions, etc. The new list of codes, with all of the annual statistics for each commune, is published every year. To our knowledge, no retroactive list of codes (with or without statistics) for old town names or province names has been created. The code for the commune of Seine-Port is 77447. There was no code for the commune of Saint-Port, as that existed before 1943. So, much as we love the rationality and uniqueness of the code commune INSEE, it is not, on its own, adequate for the geographical part of a source citation for any source created before 1943.
  • The fact that most creaters of genealogy programmes should be taken out to the woodshed and appropriately chastised for their appalling laziness and their unforgivable cultural and linguistic prejudices. If they are clever enough to write software, they are clever enough to read Evidence Explained and to have the programme accommodate the geographies and record creation methods of other countries.

We have debated and discussed the citation issue numerous times on this blog and elsewhere. In essence Dear Readers, you must decide the purpose of your citation.

  • Will you publish your genealogical research? Will you be expecting other genealogical researchers to read it and to be able to trust your citations, to understand them, to know more about your sources because of them and be able to retrieve the same sources with confidence?
  • Alternatively, will you keep your research private to your family and want them to know that your research is based on sources that they can find again, if they wish?

Elizabeth Shown Mills explains very clearly the difference in goal and purpose between source analysis and source citation here. The simplest form of source citation of books, such as we all were taught in school, is simply not adequate for the many types of historical sources used by genealogists. More, those sources often provide conflicting evidence. So, Mills concludes, each source must be analyzed and that analysis must be presented in brief form in the citation. This is absolutely necessary if your genealogical research is to be published in a peer-reviewed genealogy journal. If that is not your goal but you still wish your research to be taken seriously and to stand the test of time (look at how much we sneer at much of the early and wholly unreliable DAR research), then perhaps you will write simpler source citations and include a detailed analysis only when they are in conflict.

The complexity or simplicity of source citation insofar as one wishes to apply the style of Evidence Explained to French sources and/or enter French sources into an American genealogy programme boils down to two issues:

  • Translation of the French source names in the citation, which makes it extraordinarily long
  • French geography changed radically and often and, in all its forms, it has never followed American geographical customs.

Each, if you are producing your work informally, for family and friends, requires a choice that you clearly state in your work. You can choose not to translate the French in the citation, especially if all of your readers can read French. You can choose in source citation, to follow the French standards as concerns their own geography, for documents such as census returns, parish and civil register entries, etc. , and give the town name and department name or number, with a link to the page of the soucrce online. Beware to give enough information for the source to be found should the link change.

We are not very familiar with all of the many American genealogy programmes but, considering the number of times people write to us about this problem, it would seem that they all, as concerns any French geographical location, ask for the wrong data and make it difficult to enter the correct data. To be sure, that is maddening. You have no choice, Dear Readers, but to create your own manual for how to enter the data, and then be sure to adhere to your rules forever, in the name of consistency. Here are a few possibilities:

  • For the regions, provinces and their many changes issue, Make a short list of those that you are citing, with dates and name changes (all of the information concerning regions and provinces can be found on the French Wikipedia page about each). It is unlikely that your ancestors lived in all of France's regions, so your list will not be that long.
  • Where town names changed, dates, not INSEE commune numbers,  are crucial to identifying the correct sources. You will either have to include the date, with the current name in parentheses, either in the entry. on in a compendium of some sort.

Finally, remember one important rule: never, ever change the name of a document or register or series and never, ever change the name of a place from what it was at the time the document was created. Do not "correct" or "improve" or "simplify" if it means altering the original name of the record, register or series. If you do, you are writing fiction that cannot be shown to anyone and inventing "sources" that can never be found.

Bonne chance, Monsieur G.

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy