The coronavirus pandemic continues to work its change on all aspects of our life. We wear a face mask when we go out; voyagers have medical tests when they arrive in France; voyagers from some countries of rampant infection may not enter Europe; there is much debate and confusion about cures and vaccines. Hiding out at home, even though we are no longer confined or locked down in France, seems to be not only the safest but the most peaceful option at the moment. While hiding out, we have been continuing to listen to various podcasts, lectures, webinars, and such, all on the subject of French genealogy, and it has come to our attention that many of those given by non-French presenters do not understand at all Overseas France. The old acronym, DOM-TOM, seems to baffle them. We have heard such definitions as "France's colonies" (France no longer has colonies), "an old region of France" (wrong) or that tell-tale, indistinct mutter (normally heard in school children's presentations and something of a surprise in a "professional" webinar) that indicates that the speaker has no idea at all of what he or she is talking about and hopes that the listeners will somehow not notice the garbled noise, or will perhaps blame their own hearing for the sudden loss of coherence (for shame).
DOM-TOM stood for départements d'outre-mer - territoires d'outre-mer, (Overseas departments and overseas territories). The current terms are départements et regions d'outre-mer (ex-DOM) and collectivités d'outre-mer (ex-TOM) and the general term for all is now territoires. The new acronyms DROM-COM have not really caught on, so look for both. The people who live in Overseas France together constitute about four per cent of the population of France.
The first group are fully and completely a part of France, in the way that Hawaii and Alaska are a part of the United States, and include:
The second group are territories under the ultimate authority of France, much as Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, and includes:
- Polynésie française (French Polynesia)
- Nouvelle Calédonie (New Caledonia)
Read more about them on Wikipedia in English and in French. Read the government's point of view on the website of the Overseas Ministry, Ministère des outre-mer. For news coverage of all things overseas, read the excellent articles on Outremers 360˚.
Begin your genealogical research with the digitized parish and civil registers on the website of the Archives nationales d'outre-mer (Overseas Archives). To go deeper, contact the geographically appropriate genealogy association.
No more indistinct muttering.
©2020 Anne Mortddel