Remembering the French Children Who Were Deported
Book Review - La Lignée

Announcing Géné



New kid on the block.  As we have explained before, a faire-part is an announcement of a marriage, a death, or a birth and at the same time an invitation to the wedding, funeral service or baptism celebrating or bemoaning the event. They were popular -- primarily among the well-to-do --during the second half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.

They were prettily printed and quickly became something to collect, rather like genealogical baseball cards. Collectors traded with one another, specialized in one or another of the three types of event announced, or specialized in the faire-part of an area or about a specific family. Some of these collections were donated to public archives. The Archives nationales have a collection, as do the Archives départementales de Paris, the Archives départementales de la Vendée, the website about Flanders and Ardennes genealogy run by André Vanderlynden, and others. Some collections have remained private and a few of these comprise the contents of the new kid's searchable data base.

Géné claims to have over one million images of faire-parts. It is free to sign up and make a search. There is a simple search box on the welcome page into which to type a surname. The search results are divided into two groups: 

  • Nom principal - where the name sought is the subject of the faire-part
  • Nom associé - where the name is a relative of the subject

Tantalizing details are given: the type of event, city and department of the event, three or four names, the year of the event. Click on the small image and a blurred large version appears. Now you have to pony up some cash for a "pass". The three types of passes are:

  • Pass Flash - 12 euros allows you to see and download two faire-parts
  • Pass Découverte - 20 euros will get you four faire-parts
  • Pass Confort - 30 euros will bring only seven faire-parts

Not only do the names seem to have been culled from the neon sign of a cheap hotel along the autoroute, but the value for money as well. 

We strongly recommend that you go for the snazzy Pass Flash. Here is why: We have been testing the site, furiously typing in every name of a late nineteenth century person that has been a brick wall for us. Of forty names, only one brought a usable result.

Though the collection is said to be from all France and Belgium, it seems to be strongest in faire-parts from Paris, Lyon and the north west of the country. It is naturally reduced in usefulness by the fact that those who ordered faire-parts tended to be wealthy. One final dent in the trustworthiness of these -- or any -- faire-parts is that many of those wealthy were more proud than honest. We have come across not a few unverified barons and suddenly aggrandized surnames. Still, they can be of great value for giving a date and place of a birth, marriage or death, and for naming relatives. 

Give Géné a go and tell us how you fare.

©2012 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy