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October 2018

November 2018

The Departmental Archives of Vosges

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Quelle luxe!

This is a wonderfully spacious facility, albeit quite far out of town (take bus number 4). There are large tables, each with electrical outlets for the fiendish tangle of chargers with which we are all now encumbered, with grand, wide windows onto a wood, currently in quite pretty autumn colour. One relaxes and works at a soothing yet productive pace in such an atmosphere of space, functionality and orderly calm. The entry contains an office where one registers as a user, a room with lockers, a coffee machine and a rather sad indoor garden (plants need air as well as light and water). There is, as yet, no wifi, but it is promised to be installed soon.

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We found the staff to be most helpful and polite. Yet, as Madame Roux-Morand informed us that she learned in an exercise with Professor Cosson, it was the magasinier, the person charged with the physical retrieval of the cartons, who often has the most knowledge. In this case, whichever archivist was at the desk when we asked a question, it was he who had the answer, while they were still struggling to look it up on the system. We saw this in our days as a librarian; there really is no electronic match for years of remembered experience. (Really, every archival and library facility should employ at least one person who truly knows the facility's holdings, with all of their quirks and idiosyncrasies, as no programmer will ever figure out how to extract that into a system.)

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Particularly helpful is the eight-page "Fiche d'aide à la recherche : Faire l'histoire de sa famille" (Research guide:  The History of Your Family). It begins with a reminder as to the délais de communication,  waiting periods before documents may be accessed; there is a minimum of fifty years where access might violate the privacy of a living person.) It then goes on to explain, specifically as to these holdings:

  • Ten-year indices, parish and civil registrations
  • The difference between parish and civil registrations
  • Explanations as to how they are organized in this facility
  • The finding aids
  • The notarial archives and their finding aids
  • The private archives that have been donated
  • Judicial archives (which we found to be particularly interesting as concerns Mennonite research)
  • Tax rolls
  • Census returns
  • Electoral rolls
  • Family archives
  • Suggestions for how to begin researching: Protestants, Catholics, Jewish people, soldiers, bureaucrats, sailors

It really is a marvelous introduction to how to use the archives and quite a generous offering to the family genealogist.

We can imagine that the city fathers of Epinal thought that they could save money by forcing their Municipal Archives into collapse and then depositing the remains in this grand, new facility. They do themselves no favours and they clearly do not understand the difference between the functions of the two types of archives. We think that they also may be showing a lack of civic pride.

Archives départementales des Vosges

4, rue Pierre Blanck

88050 Epinal

 

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Encounter With a Genealogist Who Specializes in Alsace-Lorraine

Au dela des racines

At the Lunéville salon, we had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with the genealogist, Sandrine Roux-Morand, owner of Au Delà des Racines, who specializes in Alsace-Lorraine research, especially into the Protestant and Jewish families of the region. This is a part of France in which people not only suffered from their territory changing national hands more than once but, even when all was calm, many of them chose to move from one side of the border to the other, and perhaps back again. Thus, a genealogist here really needs to be able to work in both French and German languages and archives to be able to trace the ancestry of these families. Madame Roux-Morand is fluent in both languages and has the research skills necessary.

She has a partner genealogist who will research in German archives but one imagines that she hardly requires much help as she has been selected to be the author of the upcoming book on German genealogy to be published by the ubiquitous Archives & Culture. The help will be, perhaps, in having someone on the spot to help navigate the road-blocks of German archives. As Madame Roux-Morand explains, the openness and generosity of the French archival tradition does not exist in Germany, where little is online, access is not permitted and nothing is free. There, apparently, one must pay a researcher to pull the record, then pay for a copy to be made by officials and, naturally, pay the postage for it to be sent.

A year or two ago, Madame Roux-Morand enhanced her qualifications by completing the diploma course in genealogy at the University of Nîmes, taught by Stéphane Cosson. We were very curious to hear about that course (much discussed in previous posts) from the point of view of a student. Her praise of the course was unqualified; she found it excellent. She told of class visits to archives facilities and of other exercises and studies but there was one that she described that we think, Dear Readers, could stand us all in good stead.

In this exercise, all students worked on the same family’s lineage. They were divided into four groups of four people each, and each group concentrated on a single generation of the family, gathering and transcribing all possible documentation on every individual of that generation. Then, they exchanged their work, so that fresh eyes could go over it. Think of the blunders and transcription errors that could be caught and corrected if every family’s historians tackled the research in such a fashion!

Madame Roux-Morand has another arrow in her quiver in that she also does the genealogical research for clients of psycho-généalogistes, (transgenerational psychotherapy).  Her colleagues are fully qualified therapists who, in some cases, think that their client may benefit from knowing more of their family history. It is a type of research requiring additional skills, including the ability to access and understand certain medical records. More importantly, it is clear that Madame Roux-Morand has the sensitive and intelligence to deliver and explain the research results with sensitivity. We have often wondered if this type of genealogical research, in addition to historical research, might not help to understand that mystery of why an ancestor chose to leave France and to immigrate to a new land.

Do have a look at her clean and elegant website to see the many aspects of genealogy which she pursues. 

It was a delight to meet this enthusiastic and obviously expert genealogist here in Alsace-Lorraine and we expect she will have and we do wish her many future successes.

Au Delà des Racines

Sandrine Roux-Morand

6 rue de la Charmille

67200 Strasbourg

www.audeladesracines.fr

sroux-morand@orange.fr

 

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

 


The Cercle de Généalogie Juive

CGJ

One of the main reasons that we attended the salon in Lunéville was in the hope that there might be a group dedicated to the research of the Mennonites of the region, but no. Nevertheless, the hunt for associations of specialists in research into religious groups was not at all fruitless. Alsace and Lorraine have and had a large Jewish community, so the presence of the Cercle de Généalogie Juive at the Grand Salon de Généalogie, Histoire, Patrimoine à Lunéville was most sensible and welcome. Their table with all of their publications was fascinating. Of particular interest to some of our Dear Readers will be the book on Sephardim from the Ottoman Empire (of whom there were some eight thousand) who came to France during the First World War, Destins de Séfarades Ottomans : les Israélites du Levant en France pendant la Première Guerre mondial, by Philippe Denan.

Other publications include:

  • Extracts from various sources on the Jewish communities of Lorraine
  • Books about Jewish cemeteries throughout France, with photographs of each tombstone, transcriptions of the engravings and histories of the communities
  • A regular review, Généalo-J, produced three times per year, and which has many articles that are research guides

Many of these may be purchased as PDF documents and downloaded immediately. A complete list of the many, many publications may be found here.

The group is quite dynamic, with monthly lectures at the Mémorial de la Shoah and monthly genealogy clinics to help you with your research at the Mediathèque du Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme in Paris.

The organization is perhaps the best resource for French Jewish genealogy.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy