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The Diocesan Archives of La Rochelle

Return to the Departmental Archives of Charente-Maritime

La Rochelle

It's junket time again, Dear Readers, and we have returned to La Rochelle and the ever-improving Departmental Archives of Charente-Maritime. The expert staff continue to be cheerful and helpful and the research guides that are available at no charge on a stand next to the desk (and that can be downloaded here) really are superb. For all of the general knowledge that  can be acquired from basic genealogy guides and manuals, one still must discover and become familiar with the quirks and oddities of each archival collection before the research can yield successful results. These guides, specific to the collections in this facility, really are most helpful.

A happy new service since our last visit is the availability of free wifi within the Salle de Lecture, or Readers' Room. This means that, if need be, one can access or Geneanet while looking at original documents, and that one can access DropBox and similar services. Wifi is not available in most departmental archives yet but we do hope that other will follow suit.


Vessel movements

Our document discovery for this visit is the lists of vessels entering and leaving the port for the nineteenth century. In the example above, for departures from La Rochelle, quite a lot of information about a vessel is given:

  • The date of departure (all in October of 1816)
  • The name and type of vessel
  • The name of the captain
  • The name or names of the owner or owners
  • The tonnage
  • The nationality of the flag (all French)
  • The number of men on the crew and their nationality (all French)
  • The destination
  • The original nationality of the vessel
  • The date when the vessel entered the port
  • A description of the cargo
  • The total amount of cargo that is merchandise
  • Notes

La Rochelle was not a major port of emigration in the nineteenth century and there are no collections of passenger lists. These vessels were cargo ships but they may have taken a few passengers. The last on this list, for example, the brig Jules Auguste, Captain Denise, was going to Boston and left on the 8th of October 1816 with a cargo of salt, wine and nails. Should your ancestor have arrived in Boston  from La Rochelle a few weeks later on a Jules Auguste, this can help to confirm the voyage and give more information about it.

La Rochelle must be acclaimed as one of the best of cities for researchers. In addition to the fine departmental archives are the interesting municipal archives, with the naval archives not far away in Rochefort. A fourth repository, the diocesan archives of La Rochelle, is to be the subject of our next post.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy