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How Serious Are You About Your French Genealogy?



A recent message from Monsieur W., one of our Dear Readers who is planning to pursue a Master's Degree and then a Doctorate of Philosophy in French history, asked us what course we might recommend that would best prepare him for a career as a genealogist specializing in French genealogy. The newly launched online diploma from the Université du Maine in Généalogie familiale could surely fit the bill.

This is not for the casual or frivolous researcher, the he or she who enjoys in the odd dabble on the Internet for a French name or two. To pursue this course one must :

  • Read and write French fluently
  • Cough up between €2,250 and €3,150
  • Be prepared to hunker down at the computer for a minimum of 144 hours for six classes
  • Write a complete family genealogy

The course will run from November 2015 to June 2016 and is to be supervised by Ghislain Baury, professor of Medieval History (just in case your family can be traced so far back). Classes will be taught by members of the university staff with contributions from external experts.

The six course modules are:

  • Archival Resources - notarial, religious, military, etc., how to access them online and at the various archives facilities, the laws concerning their use and publication. Archives to be discussed are: Departmental Archives, military archives, those of knights hospitallers, those specific to certain professions, those specific to religious groups.
  • Paleography - covering all types of historic documents, such as medieval pedigrees of the nobility, medieval notarial records, medieval royal records, medieval monastic records, and more recent records
  • Heraldry - covering all types of heraldic documentation, the history of heraldry since the Middle Ages, how to read a family crest and interpret it genealogically, modern heraldry, principles and techniques of creating a crest
  • Writing a family history - covering how to create a family tree, how to analyse research results and place them in a historical context, how to apply the principles of transgenerational psychotherapy and micro-history to the family history
  • Writing the history of a house or property - covering research strategies, topography, archaeology, historical analysis of a property, how buildings change over time, and land use
  • Map-reading for genealogy - putting your genealogical research in place, covering the locating of your ancestors, their communities and locales, making a chronology of how long they were in any one place, discovering the geographical distribution of a name, reading old and new maps

A seventh module comprises the writing of a family genealogy and all that that entails and is expected to take the whole year. This will give the student a framework within which to practice and prove the mastery of the skills taught. It also appears to be the sole basis of coursework evaluation.

Altogether, this course is longer, more expensive, and looks to be tougher than that offered by the Université de Nîmes. If this is the course for you, write to and sign up. Then, send us your opinions and experiences to post here on the FGB!

©2015 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy