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Exciting News From the Archives Diplomatiques!


Going Overseas

We have written quite a few times about the wonderful treasures held at the Archives diplomatiques. We have told of their great use in tracing French ancestors who went abroad to lands not among the French colonies or territories:

  • Of the Overseas Civil Registrations, or actes d'état civil, which were made by the French embassies and consulates around the world concerning French citizens who lived overseas,
  • Of the registered notarial records concerning the same French citizens, an example being the consent of a father living abroad for his child back home to marry, 
  • Of the censuses taken by the French embassies during the nineteenth century of French citizens living overseas.

We have also told of the extreme unpleasantness of the locale of the Archives diplomatiques, in the new central administration building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in what can be described only as the pit of Hades that is La Courneuve (with apologies to the local citizenry). The transportation to get there from central Paris, using the dreaded regional railway, involves filthy carriages, open station platforms in either freezing winds and rain or baking, brutal sun, then a ten-minute walk that feels like hours through a crush of extremely aggressive street vendors. The equally aggressive security procedures at the entry of the Ministère des Affaires étrangères confirm the sense of local danger. Though the archives there are well worth it, we do not at all care for the voyage. No, we do not.

Thus, joy at this excellent seasonally appropriate gift announcement -- at a genealogy conference held at the Archives diplomatiques -- that plans are afoot to digitize and put online those parts of the archives most interesting to genealogists -- the overseas civil registrations, albeit only those prior to 1891. (Thus excluding the more recent ambassadorial records held at Nantes.) This could be of significant use to all those whose nineteenth century immigrant ancestor was known to have come from only "somewhere in France", for it could help in finding out where in France that ancestor was born. Dates were not given for this thrilling event, but the "near future" was promised. Ah, this news transports us from Hades to Olympus.


Let us hope that the near future will not be too far.

©2013 Anne Morddel

French genealogy