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November 2021

ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter J

Escrime - Challenge!

As we approach the middle of the alphabet, those participating in the ChallengeAZ  seem to be experiencing a bit of a slump in the imagination. For the letter J, there are many posts about one Jeanne or another, a couple of inexplicable lapses into Joy, and a couple each on Justice and Jumeaux (twins). We think that the best are:

  • Broderies ancestrales, writing about naturalization records in the Ministry of Justice.
  • 101 gènes, writing with understandable horror about one ancestor's run-in with the law, as found in judicial archives.
  • Au Cour du Passé, providing a much-needed post on the "profession" of day-labourer. All amongst you who, too lazy to pick up a dictionary, assume that journalier is French for journalist, we beg of you, please read this, with a dictionary. Failing that, at least look at the picture.
  • De Branches en branches writing the best post on twins, having found two sets with the same surname born on the same day.

Surely, a few letters from now, as we near the finishing line, inspiration will return.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter I

Escrime - Challenge!

The ChallengeAZ continues through this long week-end. 

  • Des Racines et des arbres made the interesting observation that infirmities or handicaps are almost never mentioned in parish registers. The author found just four mentions, and shows them. To be sure, one would not expect to find many of such mentions for the registers were about basic identity and catholicité and rarely give professions, causes of death, physical descriptions, etc.
  • Archivistoires brings to our attention a new association and website dedicated to preserving personal archives of ordinary people, Mirco-Archives. This is in its infancy but could become quite interesting. 
  • Nos racines - Notre Sang has been dedicated, for the entirety of the ChallengeAZ, to using newspapers for genealogical research. The individual posts have been pithy, to say the least, but as the body of work grows, it is becoming a rather valuable tutorial.
  • Sur Nos Traces astonished us with the revelation that there was an effort to create a Jewish, or Israélite, regiment in Napoleon's Army. A very interesting a thoroughly researched article, with a transcription of the sole, surviving list of conscripts.
  • Généalogie Alsace has another gem of a post, this time on identity cards. We have written about French identity cards here, but these are the cards specific to this region, issued to the inhabitants after it was returned to France in 1918, and after each of them could prove they were truly Alsatian.
  • Autant de nos ancêtres also writes about identity cards, giving as an example one from the 1940s. 

 

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Women's Studies, Gender Studies - Suggestion for a Research Topic

Babies

Dear Readers, let us take a moment to step away from the ChallengeAZ to look at a topic that we find most curious and well worthy of further study - by someone else.

A few years ago, we wrote a post entitled "Did English Women Take Advantage of Anonymous Birth Laws in France?" and we are now quite convinced that the answer to the question is an emphatic yes. We have seen repeated many more times since writing that post the pattern that we described there: a small child appears, seemingly out of nowhere, on a British census, living with his or her mother. The mother and the child may or may not have the same surname, but there is no father in the household. The UK census shows that the child was born in France, often "in Paris". A possible French marriage may or may not be mentioned. Yet, while the illegitimate birth at times may be found in French registers, a search for the marriage will be fruitless.  The comment to that post, by Madame R. makes it clear that, in the last thirty years or so of the nineteenth century, the social stigma for a woman who had a child while not married would have been quite dreadful to endure. Those who could have afforded the voyage and stay, might have considered spending the confinement in France, where it would have been possible to register the child's birth either under a false name or completely anonymously. 

We think this would make an interesting study. In our own research, we have noticed that rather a lot of such births happened at small clinics in Neuilly-sur-Seine, just to the west of Paris. It would be possible to comb through the birth register entries of Neuilly for, say, the last three decades of the nineteenth century, seeking all births for which the mother had an English-sounding name. One would want to look at how many were illegitimate births versus how many were legitimate. Then, one could note the addresses where the births took place and check those addresses in the census returns for those decades. Did a majority of the illegitimate births take place at the same clinic or with the same midwife? (A list of Neuilly's maternity clinics and midwives would have to be compiled.) Did some of the women show up in the Neuilly census returns with the children? Were they at the same addresses? Finding the women and children afterward in the UK census returns would be the next step. Were they concentrated in the same regions or cities?

Ultimately, the most interesting question to answer would be "How did they know to go to Neuilly?" Did the French clinics advertise in British newspapers? Would the UK census returns show that they lived near a specific doctor or midwife and could that doctor or midwife have advised them to go to France? We now have seen too many cases of this for it to have been coincidence. In some unknown, perhaps "underground", way women in the early stages of pregnancy in England were learning that they could go to a rather obscure suburb of Paris to have their child under a different name or giving no name at all, then return to England with the child to claim on the census there that it was her own, the product of a fictional French marriage, or a friend's, later to be adopted. 

Any post graduates in gender studies and/or women's studies out there looking for a topic?

UPDATE:

We have had this very interesting comment on the above from Madame L.: 

"I imagine the topic of travel would have come up on the grapevine: that is in gossip between their mothers at some local event, like a church bazaar or a children's party, or perhaps through an intimate conversation with a school-friend. The other alternative for middle-class women, a 'nervous breakdown' in a distant private nursing home was so much more demeaning. I don't believe a respectable newspaper would have carried an overt advertisement, though the subject might have come up in a salacious gossip column, probably in the indirect code which English society uses and understands. Working-class women might stay with an aunt, but without a sympathetic relative or money, there was only the workhouse."

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter H

Escrime - Challenge!

Rich pickings today, Dear Readers, with many choosing for the letter H to discuss something concerning hospitals. Quite a few explain resources to help with your French genealogical research.

  • Carole Croze writes about using the hospital registers of the Hôtel Dieu of Lyon, found in the Municipal Archives of Lyon.
  • Sur nos traces has a long a beautifully illustrated article on the very important Hôpital Rothschild in Paris, the archives of which we have found to be very useful in Parisian Jewish research.
  • GénéaBreizh makes the case, as we often have done, for you knowing your history, Dear Readers, giving a pithy but powerful set of examples showing why.
  • Sur la piste de mes ayeuls, under the guise of "H for Hispaniola", writes about Saint Domingue,  giving quite a lot of history but also discussing the research usefulness of the online passports from Bordeaux, which we discussed here.
  • Antequam... la généalogie! explains the use of the hypothèque archives, which we discussed here.
  • De Branches en branches gives a thorough example of how to use the online Legion of Honour files, which we explained in English here.
  • Archivistoires has an excellent presentation of the archival Series H in Municipal Archives, the series covering all things military.

Municipal Archives are a valuable and under-used resource for genealogists; it is nice to see them discussed in two posts on the same day.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter G

Escrime - Challenge!

Of the posts submitted to the ChallengeAZ for the letter G, many chose one of the obvious: généalogie or guerre (war), others continued with their studies of surnames or town names beginning with the letter and many write about food.

  • Traces et petits cailloux wrote of the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, the Grand dérangement, with very nice illustrations. We have written a bit about Acadian research here.
  • GénéaBreizh introduces the curious word gésine and presents a tough act. The word is new to us and not in our modern French-English dictionary. Once again, our grandmother's pink Petit Larousse Illustré came to the rescue. As GénéaBreizh states, the word means the state of a woman being pregnant or of being in labur. As the verb gésir means to embed, gésine is similar to the old fashioned expression of a woman being "brought to bed" meaning that she was in labour, which is not very far from the currently used word, accoucher. Interesting post. We have nothing similar in our archive, but suggest our post on pregnancy declarations.
  • The only post in this batch to explain a research source is from Sandrine Heiser, who is turning out to be something of a star in this ChallengeAZ. She writes about the State Archives of Baden-Württemburg and how to use them. In her example, she found prisoner of war records on an Alsatian. Simple and superb post.

 

Are you keeping up, Dear Readers?

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter F

Escrime - Challenge!

It is no surprise that many of the bloggers chose to write about famille, frère or femme for the letter F, but there were other topics as well and a few more on sources than previously.

  • Antequam... la généalogie! closely examines the military dossier of a man shot (fusillé) for desertion during the First World War, then extends the research to see its effects on family members. 
  • Généalogie Alsace examines a most important source in research into Alsatian ancestors, the fichier domiciliaire. These are the returns of the household census taken by towns during the period when the region was a part of Germany, 1871 to 1918. We have used these in the past with great success, particularly as they give the whereabouts of family members not present.
  • Passerelle Généalogie continues the series on emigration to Louisiana (the voyage is ended and the Lombards arrive),  giving a list of resources - excellent!
  • L'arbre des Brazier - Cartier looks at faire-parts, death and funeral service announcements, which we discussed here.
  • De Branches en branches examines the livret de famille for its genealogical usefulness, as we did here in English.
  • The Archives de l'Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris are a wonderful archive that we wrote about here. They have had some serious difficulties with their website for some years now, which is a great pity. They have chosen to put their posts for the ChallengeAZ on their facebook page (also a great pity, but what to do?) So far, they have been exploring the records of various branches of the medical profession that they hold in their archives. Well worth enduring facebook to read them if you are researching a Parisian doctor, dentist or nurse..
  • Lastly, though it is useless for genealogy, we have a penchant for the entry of Sur nos traces, all about the felines in Montmartre cemetery in Paris. They enchanted us as well, as you can read here.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter E

Escrime - Challenge!

As the ChallengeAZ settles into a nice pace, it would seem that there are about seventy-four or seventy-five bloggers participating this year and none seems to be out of breath yet.  For the letter E, those that we have found to be most intriguing are:

  • 101 gènes, by Sandrine and Jennifer, gives a bit of pure history, looking at the years of the childhood of a particular ancestress, from 1808 to 1828, the peak of the First Empire to just before the 1830 Revolution, heady times indeed.
  • Le Souffle des ancêtres looks at the lives of domestic servants via a case study of a woman who had to leave her employment because she became pregnant. They look quite closely at the socio-economics of women in that situation.
  • Claude Christ submitted "E comme Etude sur la localisation des familles de mariniers d’Azay-sur-Cher" to the Blog du Centre Généalogique de Touraine. He conducts a very deep study of the families of boatmen on the river Cher in one town, Azay-sur-Cher, looking at parish and civil registers, census returns and local maps. It is an excellent example of cluster research using French sources available online.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter D

Escrime - Challenge!

Just to be clear, Dear Readers, as we select what we consider to be the best blog posts appearing for each letter in the ChallengeAZ 2021, we do not mean to imply that the others are not also interesting (or only rarely do we mean to do so). The many posts that tell a person's story or a village's history are charming but few of them reveal research skills or advice that can be of use to you in your French genealogy research. But for the odd recipe that looks too tasty to omit, our selections are those posts that we believe could help you to learn a new skill or resource that would advance your research into your own French ancestors.

The posts published for the letter D that we consider to be the best are:

  • Sur nos traces looks at how hospital registers noted the religion of a patient, a tiny mark yielding information important to identification.
  • Généa79 looks at a number of notarial records in one family that show how a couple were able to leave their estate to an adopted child.
  • Murmures d'ancêtres also looks at notarial records, from a unique angle, we opine.
  • Sandrine Heiser looks at records about dissidents in the military archives at Service Historique de la Défense
  • GénéaTrip discusses how to document one's genealogical research. This is not a common concern among French genealogists, so it is nice to find it covered here. (We had a number of posts on the subject of citation beginning here.)

We do hope you are not flagging; we have a long way to go yet.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter C

Escrime - Challenge!

So, Dear Readers, the ChallengeAZ continues apace as people write on their themes. It being a damp and warmish time of year, the time when one can find mushrooms of exquisite taste, the glorious cèpe, the deceptively joyous trompette de la mort, two contributors have chose to write about mushrooms, champignons, in French, both giving recipes. (Our own post on the theme can be found here.)

Happy reading...and cooking!

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


ChallengeAZ 2021 - The letter B

Escrime - Challenge!

As one might expect, many of the blog posts for the letter B discuss someone's ancestor whose name begins with that letter or a town the name of which begins with B. We have sifted those out to select some with a different focus:

  • Sylvie Deborde discusses baptisms at some length, not just how they were recorded, but the lengths to which people went to get them at all.
  • Généalogie Alsace writes about German-French bilingualism in parish registers in Alsace, something many of you have encountered.
  • Passerelle Généalogie gives a real treasure for some American readers with a long discussion of the Lombard family of Franch-Comté and their emigration to North America. Nicely illustrated.
  • Traces et Petits Cailloux writes of Acadian refugees in Belle Isle en Mer. 
  • Une Histoire de Famille describes the history of rue du Bac in Paris, with much on that city's changes through time. (Similar to our post on the topic here.)
  • Sur nos traces, a rare blog on French Jewish genealogy, writes of the wars in the Palatinate that caused so many people to emigrate (including some of our own ancestors). Good map.
  • Des Racines et des arbres discusses, at great length, bastardy.

Some good work here, indeed.

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy