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April 2014

Médaille d'Honneur Agricole

Medaille Agricole

Two or three of you, Dear Readers, have written to ask about a piece of paper of your ancestor's in your possession, the Medal of Honour for Agriculture -- Médaille d'Honneur Agricole --  and wish to know more about it. The Medal is awarded to those who have worked for a long time in agriculture or related fields as employees. Thus, it is not awarded to the independent farmer or to the agricultural entrepreneur.

The employee must request the medal, submitting to the local prefecture:

  • The formal request, completed by the employer or by the candidate
  • A photocopy of the candidate's identity card
  • Copies of proofs of long employment from all employers
  • A letter from the most recent employer giving the dates of employment there
  • Letters from military and/or pension authorities should they be required.

If awarded, the candidate received a piece of paper (see above) and a fancy little ribbon to wear on his or her jacket. All of the documentation submitted with the request was often saved and may be found in Series 1 M, Distinction honorifiques of the local Departmental Archives.

The Médaille d'Honneur Agricole, which is given at the local level, is not to be confused with the Ordre du Mérite Agricole, which is a national honour, coming from the Ministry of Agriculture. This was begun in 1883 and has two categories: food and wine. Our handy correspondence book gives a sample letter for those who would wish to make such a request:

A Son Excellence Monsieur le Ministre de l'Agriculture

Monsieur le Ministre,

J'ai l'honneur de solliciter la décoration du Mérite Agricole, en qualité d'horticulteur et à raison de mes travaux personnels en matière agricole.

Je me permets de soumettre à votre bienvaillante appréciation les titres que je crois pouvoir invoquer.

Je dirige depuis vingt-sept ans, à ......., un établissement hoticole que j'ai créé et qui est aujourd'hui le plus considérable du département. J'y occupe vingt-huit personnes.

Mes produits ont figuré avec honneur depuis quinze ans à toutes les expositions régionales et à tous nos comices. J'ai obtenu les récompenses ci-après:......

D'autre part, depuis des longues années, je donne mon concours à toutes les organisations de fêtes locales, pour la décoration florale des salles de réceptions officielles, monuments publics, etc.

Enfin, j'ai poursuivi des recherches spéciales en vue d'acclimater, dans notre reegion, les plantes ci-après de longues et coûteuses expériences, mais qui aujourd'hui se trouvent dans tous les jardins du paus, savoir:.....

Je prends la libertéd'ajouter, bien que je ne considère cela que comme un titre accessoire, que je me suis volontairement imposé de fournir gratuitement de fruits, chaque année, l'orphelinat de notre localité où sont élevés cinquante enfants orphelins pauvres.

Dans l'espoir que vous daignerez donner à ma demande une suite favorable, j'ai l'honneur de vous prier, monsieur le Ministre, d'agréer l'assurance de mon profond respect.

We do enjoy using our Correspondence book whenever we send letters to the officials. 

Successful candidates received not only a ribbon but a medal with a star on it that looks quite military. There is some dispute as to where the documentation for the Ordre du Mérite Agricole candidates is held. Our sources say they are in the same series as above, in the Departmental Archives holding the archives of the town where the award was presented. There is also a club of recipients, formed only in 1992, the Association des membres de l'ordre du mérite agricole (A.M.O.M.A), which can be reached at the following address:

12, rue Joseph-Savoyat,

38110 LaTour-du-Pin

If you have such a medal or documents and know where they were delivered, you might write to the relevant Department Archives and ask for a copy of the documentation. There will be a fee, of course, but it usually not very large. 

Good luck!

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Requests for Information - Demandes de Renseignements


Demande de renseignements

We have never encountered this type of folder but then, we were probably too busy looking elsewhere for other things.The good and tidy clerks of the Brive-la-Gaillard Town Hall seem to have saved everything that came in the post, and so did the archivists who later received these nuggets.

The folder entitled Recherches dans l'intérêt des familles, 1820-1959 and placed under the category of Demandes de Renseignements contains letter from all over France and the world asking for news of Brive folk. They wrote to know if their parents were still alive and, if not, when they died. They wrote to know if an abandoned spouse had died so that they could remarry. They wrote to request copies of their own birth or marriage registrations.

A father, as concerned as any Germont, wrote to check up on his daughter's suitor. Was he truly the honourable young man from Brive-la-Gaillarde that he claimed to be? Would the mayor vouch for his character and family? For his financial security?

Another letter is from a person purporting to represent a poor little orphan who, rumour had it, was heir to a fortune, via his late mother's wealthy Brive relatives. "Is this true?" the writer's breathless anticipation can still be sensed. "How do we go about claiming the money for this poor child?" One hopes that the mayor wrote his own letter of enquiry concerning these claimants.

One family wrote asking if their long lost son had passed through Brive-la-Gaillarde. In their anxiety, they were writing to every town in the region to try to find him, and give a full physical description of him.

A contrite and broken man in prison longed to hear from his mother and brother. He begged the mayor to speak to them on his behalf and ask them to put their shame and condemnation aside and write to him. If they would not, he asked the mayor to please send him news of them.

The motives vary but the request is the same: for information. In the letters asking for information, they usually give quite a lot: names, addresses, professions, dates, places, making these letters not only poignant stories of lives long ago, but documents full of genealogical clues.

Well worth investigating.

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

A Gift for Our Readers on Our Fifth Birthday!


5th blog anniversary

This month, we celebrate five years of writing The French Genealogy Blog and of having encountered via the electronic postal system so many wonderful Dear Readers. As a token of our gratitude, we offer a gift for you to download: a calendar of important dates in the history of France that relate to genealogical research.

FGB Calendar

Running from April 2014 to the end of March 2015, it brings you not only dates useful to know for your research, but the months of the Republican Calendar and a selection of our artistic photographs. The entire calendar, as a PDF, may be downloaded hereIt is a big file, so give it a minute. If you like, you may print it out and glue it -- page by page -- to pieces of construction paper and staple it all together to hang on your wall with a piece of string. Nice project to share with a small child. However, if you must have a hard copy, we have a glossy and ready-made version available for you to purchase on, here.

We hope that you may enjoy the calendar and also that you will accept our many, many thanks to you all, Dear Readers, for what continues to be a very fun ride.

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy