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Book Review : Archives diplomatiques : mode d'emploi

Archives diplomatiques

The Archives Diplomatiques in La Courneuve, in spite of the ghastly travel route necessary, is one of our favourite places in which to research. There is an order and cleanliness to the place that belies the chaotic world events, the wars and migrations and occupations that fill the papers it holds.

Not only does one learn of France’s policies toward aiding the few who escaped the Battle of Culloden, for example, or the government’s instructions to France’s diplomats around the world. One can discover a great deal about the citizens of France who left for climes new, in the civil registrations, the overseas census, the consular notarial records, and in the various consuls’ reports from all over the world. We find the discoveries to be numerous and thrilling.

As we wrote in our last post, the genealogy publisher Archives & Culture is rising in dominance and prominence. One of their newest publications is a guide to using these wonderful archives, entitled Archives diplomatiques : mode d’emploi (The Diplomatic Archives; How to Use Them). It seems to have been very much of a team effort by all of the archivists, for about twenty-five of them are named, with their full job titles given. (Laudable that they want to be sure that everyone receive the credit he or she deserves, but are they aware that this serves as a directory to the archives administration and that, now, the contributors may be inundated with letters demanding help with research?)

Filled with attractive photographs and with a coloured border on each page, as is the house style, the actual content of this guide is most informative and useful. It is divided into three main parts:

  1. The history, structure, and purpose of the institution, the laws and regulations that cover it, the services provided by the archives and library
  2. The contents of the archives, the funds and collections, with each major archives series described, as is the library collection
  3. A very clear guide, with examples, of how to research in the collections

Though we know many of the series fairly well, we learned of a couple of new possibilities for genealogical research. For all those of you thinking of making a visit to the Archives diplomatiques, we suggest that you, firstly, study this book and, secondly, study the PDF finding aids of the website, in order to be fully prepared when you arrive.

This is definitely one of the better among the productions of Archives & Culture. It is thorough in its coverage, simple and clear in its writing, and practical in its explanations.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

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