The Municipal Archives of Marseille
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A French Family's Ration Cards and What They Reveal About Names

Aliment 1

As we wrote earlier, we have been attending various vide-greniers, sales of old or unwanted items, and picking up examples of family documents to show you, our Dear Readers. Our most recent find is one family's ration cards. Most come from the Second World War and the years of austerity that followed it. One, however, shown above, comes from the previous World War and its aftermath. They illustrate not only a bit of history but also how even a simple document can help clarify an identity.

The enemy occupation of France during World War II gave rise to an almost immediate rationing of food, clothing and other essentials. The population received the minimum possible, while the maximum was sent to feed and clothe the victor's army. Each individual was issued with a ration card for food, termed la carte individuelle d'alimentation. There were two main categories: adults and children or jeunes , which were refined over the years. This family lived in Périgueux in the department of Dordogne and -- for reasons unknown -- saved their ration cards of three generations of people. 

Two are for a woman and a child. The first, shown below, was issued in 1946 to a woman named Marie, born in 1909. 

Alimen 1


Alimen 2

The second was issued on the same day in the same place to a child of thirteen, Colette, who had the same surname.

Alimentation 1

Another type of ration card, for clothing and textiles, la carte de vêtements et d'articles textiles, was also issued during the war years. The one below was issued to Jean Francois, born in 1900.

Vetements 1


Vetements 2

There are a total of four cards, for those who appear to be four different members of the same family, for they all have the same surname, Lajoinie, and they all live at no. 21 avenue Bertrand de Born in Périgueux. It would appear that Elie was the eldest, being aged fifty-four in 1919. Jean François may have been his son, married to Marie and they seem to have been the parents of Colette. Some of the information on the cards can be confirmed on the websites of the archives of the two relevant departments, Dordogne and Corrèze. Some, occurring later, cannot, for most Departmental Archives have not put online the civil registrations dating later than 1902. 

The value of documents such as these is in that they provide:

  • Name
  • Address of residence
  • Date and place of birth, which may be more recent than such information that can be found on the websites of Departmental Archives

Unfortunately, they can also contain mistakes, as in the date of birth of Elie. The year put is what was the current year. However, his age was given as fifty-four, and his birthday as the twenty-ninth of December, so his birth registration could be found in the 1864 civil register online for Objat, on the website of the Departmental Archives of Corrèze. The birth of Jean François is given on his ration card as the twenty-fifth of August 1900 and this can be confirmed in the civil register online for Périgueux, on the website of the Departmental Archives of Dordogne. 

Their names on the birth registrations are quite diferent from those on their ration cards. This brings us to a number of questions we have received from some of our Dear Readers, most recently from Monsieur E, who is researching an ancestor with the names Jean Charles Thibeau on documents after immigration, but he can only find documents matching date and place of birth for a Jean Thiebaud. Could Jean Thiebaud be Jean Charles Thibeau? The answer is maybe.

The first of the ration cards shows an Elie but the birth registration that matches the date, place and surname gives the forenames as Jean Baptiste Hélie. The marriage registration for the same person was not very difficult to find and it gives his names as Jean Baptiste Elie. The ration card for his son gives the names Jean François. The birth registration for him gives the forenames François Louis Elie Jean Baptiste.

We have often come across the use of just one of a person's many given names, as in the case of Elie, but not so often have we seen such a rearrangement of names as made by Jean François. Then again, given the kind of error with the date on Elie's card, we cannot rule out the possibility that the ration card for Jean François also may contain mistakes. Monsieur E's ancestor was a near contemporary of Elie's, though from a different region of France. His case is not the use of just one forename or the radical rearrangement of forenames but the addition of a forename, Charles. 

In truth, in all three cases, while the identities and relationships seem likely, they cannot be said to be certain without more documentation. Carry on, carry on. The hunt never ends.


©2012 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy