Minitel Finally To Bite the Dust
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Bulletin de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle


The Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) is an international organisation founded in France in 1860, after a period of nasty anti-Semitism and a celebrated case of the forced conversion of a child to Christianity. The goal of the founder, Adolphe Crémieux, was to encourage education -- with an emphasis on the idealism of the French Revolution -- for all Jewish people. The AIU has been building schools for Jewish children all over the world -- particularly in North Africa --  for the past 150 years, more than twenty years longer than the Alliance Française. It was the first international Jewish organisation and has had significant influence. A history of the AIU, edited by André Kaspi, entitled plainly Histoire de l'Alliance israélite universelle de 1860 à nos jours, was published last year. (See an interview with the Kaspi here.)

From its beginning until the First World War, the AIU published the Bulletin de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle which, because it listed so many of its members and their contributions, is of enormous value in French Jewish genealogy, as described by the National Library of Israel:

"The Bulletin is also a rich source of information on the inner lives of the Jewish communities. Every issue contains detailed lists of AIU members in every city, continuous information reported from local committees spread over five continents, lists of donors or people who contributed to solidarity activities initiated by the Alliance for the benefit of Jews who had fallen victim to misfortune or violence, and more. Statistical data on the AIU schools provide accurate information about the number of schools in each city, the number of students, the make-up of the teaching staff, and the schools’ budgets." 

Until recently, the only way to read the Bulletin was to visit the library of the AIU in Paris, one of its schools around the world, or a library that has maintained a collection of it. Now, it is available online at the above mentioned National Library of Israel under its category Historical Jewish Press. The description and search pages are in Hebrew, English or French. The indexing is quite good. As there are so many lists of names, the results are usually many and some search refinement is required. Even so, it will be a slog through many pages, but could be a happy one for the genealogist.

Go for it!


©2011 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy