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October 2014

Municipal Archives Newly Online

  Every Little Town


Someone has pointed out to us that it has been well over three years since we last wrote of developments in the online presence of Communal and Municipal Archives. These are an important complementary source to the websites of the Departmental Archives. At times, they duplicate one another, but in many cases, the Departmental Archives do not have the parish and/or civil registrations of the larger cities and the only place to find them will be on the websites of the archives of those cities.

The past couple of weeks have brought the announcements of the launches of or additions to the websites of the Municipal Archives of Bordeaux, Lille, and perhaps most excitingly, Metz. The list is ever growing. The two best sources for the discovery of new Municipal Archives remain the map at GénéInfos, which includes Departmental Archives as well, and the list provided by the website of Archives de France, which provided the base for the one given below.

So, if you thought that you had found everything with the websites of the Departmental Archives and now have no more to do, think again and get back to work! And good luck to you.

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Marseille Marriages



We were in a foul mood. We have been thundering away on a research knot, one of those little unknown details that is not exactly a brick wall, more like a knot in  one of those thin chains for a necklace after a child has played with it. When confronted with such a tangle, our true nature tells us to yank the thing to pieces, to play Alexander with his sword slicing through the Gordian knot. The hard lessons of life have, of course, taught us a modicum, and no more, of patience and we know now to take a tiny pin and loosen the knot until the chain falls free.

With knots in our genealogical research, we tend to go through the same process, possible now only because of the Internet. Firstly, we bash at it with Google searches of every angle and variety, sometimes finding bits of quite interesting but usually tangential information. Then, with a sigh, we remind ourselves to do things patiently and thoroughly. Really, at this age, we should know better.

The problem in question was a marriage of a lady to an unknown man. We had a town and a name and nothing more. We found it, via a nice new addition to Geneanet's cache of archives and other collections, this one being of details on marriages in Marseille. They come from yet another rash of digitization of the Fonds Coutot.

We wrote some years back about this rather astonishing achievement, but give here again the story. In 1830, a young clerk, Amédée Coutot,  who worked for a notary began making copies of civil registrations (actes de naissance, de marriage, de décès) from all over France, and using them to compile genealogies in line with his work to find heirs for the notary. The enterprise continues to this day as the Archives Généologiques Andriveau, with over 200 million records stored in some 15,000 volumes. They are of particular interest to those searching Parisian ancestors but are useful for research on ancestors from other regions as well. 

It is taking some time to digitize parts of the collection and to transcribe details for indexing. Different  genealogy services tussle to include the collections -- which they refer to as the Fonds Coutot -- on their websites with exclusivity. has on its website the marriages of Paris from the Fonds Coutot (and precious little else). And now, providing aid to us in our hour of need, Geneanet has enhanced its Coutot collection , which now contains:

  • Optants
  • Paris marriages 1860-1902 (so much for exclusivity!)
  • Paris suburbs - Deaths  1860-1902
  • Paris - Deaths 1893-1902
  • Paris "reconstituted" births, marriages and deaths  1798-1902
  • Marseille marriages 1700-1809
  • Marseille marriages - bride's names 1800-1915

Working with the last on the list, we found what we sought and had to bash no more. 

We probably will not live long enough to see all of the Coutot treasures digitized and online, but we will diligently check Geneanet to note each new addition with joy. It would behove you to do so too, Dear Readers.

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy