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April 2022

GUEST POST - News From the State Archives of Geneva - AEG

Dear Readers, our good friend, the excellent genealogist,  Isabelle Haemmerle, sends exciting news from Geneva:

We are pleased to forward good news from Geneva. Last February the State Archives of Geneva (AEG) announced that the parish and vital records from 1542 to 1880 have been fully digitalized and are accessible on the Adhemar database. It represents 449,000 pictures from 2,200 record books.

Up to 1798, we can find mention of a baptism or marriage in the parish books recorded by ministers in the City of Geneva. Deaths were recorded in the « Book of the Dead ( le Livre des morts) » by the « Visitors of the Dead (visiteurs des morts) » who were employed by the Hospital and were given training. In the countryside, ministers were in charge of the recording, or registering. In 1798, Geneva became part of France and, from then, the vital records - birth, marriage and death - were registered by officials of each commune.

AEG - EC Morts 5 - Livre des Morts 3 june 1562AEG - EC Morts 5 - Livre des Morts 3 June 1562

In a presentation of the State Archives of Geneva – AEG - that was posted here a few years ago, we explained you how to find a family name on the website of the Swiss family names repertory, which enumerates the families who held the citizenship of a Swiss commune in 1962. It provides:

    • the commune of origin or bourgeoisie
    • the date of bourgeoisie acquisition
    • the place of origin location ( France or other location, ex. NE for Neuchatel)

In the AEG parish and vital records, you will find only events located in the Canton of Geneva :

    • birth records until 31 December 1899
    • marriage records until 31 December 1929
    • death records until 31 December 1959

As mentioned above,  these are online only up to 1880. After that year, the search can only be done in the reading room of the AEG.

If you do not know the exact date of the events, you can review alphabetical indexes - répertoires or tables : the volumes cover a period of 4 to 10 years and indicate the dates of birth, marriage or death along with the vital record number where the original certificate is registered.
Geneva archives give also access to some Protestant parish record books of towns in the neighborhood of Geneva that are now within French territory in the Pays de Gex : Cessy, Segny, Sauverny, Collonges, Farges, Divonne, Grilly, Crassier, Moëns et Lyon (on microfilm).

«Communes réunies» Index (1599-1877)

As Geneva was historically a Protestant land, the Catholic parishes flourished on its borders and were called « communes réunies » (towns that were transferred by France in 1815 and by the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1816). A special index is used as birth, marriage and death tables for events having taken place in those towns before the end of 18th century (1599-1798). Three more tables online complete the period of 1792 to 1877.

The «Communes réunies» are:

    • Aire-la-Ville
    • Anières
    • Avusy
    • Bardonnex
    • Bernex
    • Bellevue
    • Carouge
    • Chêne-Thônex
    • Choulex
    • Collex-Bossy
    • Collonge-Bellerive
    • Compesières
    • Confignon
    • Corsier
    • Grand-Saconnex
    • Hermance
    • Laconnex
    • Lancy
    • Meinier
    • Meyrin
    • Onex
    • Perly-Certoux
    • Plan-les-Ouates
    • Pregny
    • Presinge
    • Puplinge
    • Soral
    • Troinex
    • Vernier
    • Versoix
    • Veyrier

AEG - EC rép 1.87.4 Image 65 - Communes Réunies Index - Birth of Daniel Duby in Collex on 12 may 1688AEG - EC rép 1.87.4 Image 65 - Communes Réunies Index - Birth of Daniel Duby in Collex on 12 May 1688

 

An extra help: nominative lists 1939-1945 of civilian or military refugees and Swiss expatriates back home

If you look for a person who might have been a refugee in Switzerland during WWII, you can check an interesting source given through the nominative lists of civilian or military refugees. They contain the surname, first name, date of birth and nationality of over 25,000 people checked at the Franco-Genevan border during the Second World War. Scroll down and read the detailed information about the lists translated in English.

New building site for the State Archives of Geneva in 2025

In spring 2025, the Archives de l’État de Genève currently located in the old Arsenal building in the old town and other departments spread across Geneva will all move to a new Hotel des Archives site to be built in the conservation area of Arsenal, rue de l’Ecole de Medecine in the cultural Plainpalais district. Thirty linear kilometers of archives will be transferred during two years to the two-storey basement. The work started in December 2020 and the plans show a reading room looking onto a renovated and landscaped yard. We are looking forward to present it to you, dear Readers!

Image new AEG building

 

New AEG Reading Room

Not to be missed if you come to Geneva this year : an exhibition « Zigzag archivistique» presents a photographic tour through the current storage facility to keep an «archive of archives» before the moving.


Where: Archives d’État de Genève, 1, rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville
When : 25 March 2022 - 30 Avril 2023 - Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm - July and August: 9am -5pm

 

20220324-aeg-zz-visuel


Passenger Lists From Morlaix - Crossing the English Channel During the Napoleonic Wars

ADM 480:103 cover

We have been extremely busy, Dear Readers, working with a wonderful set of passenger lists from the early nineteenth century. Though England and France were at war from 1803 to 1815 (with a small break for a tenuous victory), travel between the two countries did not cease, not at all. There was a fairly steady stream of people moving in both directions, including:

  • Released British prisoners returning home
  • Released French prisoners arriving from Britain
  • American diplomats and merchants voyaging between Paris and London
  • Wives and children of British détenus returning to Britain
  • French civilians going to and returning from Britain

They all had to travel via Morlaix, the only port in the French Empire from which it was permitted to sail for or arrive from England. The set of passenger lists with which we are working are the original departing passenger lists from Morlaix (arrival lists seem not to have survived), signed by the port officer, the Commissaire de la Marine à Morlaix, a Monsieur Dusaussois, and countersigned by the British port authority on arrival, usually at Dartmouth. We have not finished with them but they appear to cover the years from 1810 to 1814, and give some very interesting and useful details for the genealogist and for the historian. For each passenger, is given the:

  • Name
  • Place of origin - this can be just a country but is usually a city
  • Age
  • Profession or status, e.g. seaman, captain, passenger, etc.
  • If a prisoner of war returning to Britain, where they had been captured
  • Details and dates of their passports, which often reveal where they had been in France

ADM 103:480 sample 2

Here, we have a passenger list from July of 1812. (War against Great Britain had just been declared by the United States but these passengers may not yet have had the news.)

1. John WASTON [possibly WATSON], of Ireland, aged 11, Student, Passport of 15 June 1812, delivered by the Commandant of the Depot of Prisoners of War at Verdun on the decision of His Excellency the Minister of War of 19 March preceding. 

2. Allen CASE, of New Bedford, United States , aged 34, ship captain, Taken by the privateer, ESPADON, from the ship, MASSACHUSETTS, which he commanded. Passport from the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at Paris on 10 June 1812, no. 250, visa given by the Minister of External Relations and by the Police General on 12 and 19 of the same month. To embark at Morlaix.

3. Lazarus LEBARON, of Rochester, [Massachusetts]  aged 23, Mate, Included on the same passport.

4. William MILES, of Montgomery, aged 24, Seaman

5. Isaac STEWARD, black, of Philadelphia , aged 25, Seaman

6. John HERRIGTON, of Chatham, America, aged 21, Seaman

7. Samuel SKILDING, of Stramford [Stamford?], aged 20, Seaman

8. Eliza TUCKER, Mrs. HICKMAN, English, aged 24, Passenger, Road pass, dated 24 June 1812, no. 330, delivered by the Commandant of arms at Longwy, following the order of His Excellency the Minister of War.

9. Caroline HICKMAN, English, aged 20 months,Within the same Passport.

10. Mrs. Eliza HOLMES, widow of William ARNOLD, Lieut. R.N., of Mortonhall, aged 24, Passport dated 8 June 1812, no. 426, delivered by the Mayor of the City of Verdun, visa given by the prefecture of Police at Paris on the 30th of the month of June, no. 36738.

So, above, you have a young Irish boy, the crew of a captured American vessel, the MASSACHUSETTS, travelling to Britain, presumably expecting it to be easier there to find a vessel going to the United States, and three British women passengers coming from the prison depots at Longwy and Verdun.

These French documents have not survived in French archives but, remarkably, in the National Archives of Great Britain at Kew, in the Admiralty series ADM 103/480. Joyously for those of you, Dear Readers, who wish to see them, they are online on FindMyPast.co.uk, where the quality of indexing is, as we see so often on these commercial websites, abysmal. (For example Mme., the abbreviation for Madame, is repeatedly indexed as a first name. This sort of shabby work hinders rather than helps research.) We are profoundly indebted to Monsieur B.C. for helping us to find this series.

Further to the same pursuit, we recently embarked upon our first research voyage since the beginning of the pandemic, and visited the Municipal Archives of Morlaix. For years, it has been on our list of important archives that must be seen. It was in the Town Hall of Morlaix, facing the viaduct, in a lovely room of tall book cases.

AM Morlaix 1

AM Morlaix 2

These archives are open only on Thursdays and visits must be booked in advance. The archivist, when we booked, warned us that there was not much from the First Empire. He did not lie; there was next to nothing from that period. Our hopes of significant discoveries were dashed. 

However, we did come across a very pertinent government publication of instructions concerning passports for French citizens and for foreigners, that goes a long way to explaining the passport notes on the Morlaix passenger lists, above.

Finistere Passport Instructions 1a

Finistere Passport Instructions 2a

Finistere Passport Instructions 3a

Finistere Passport Instructions 4a

Finistere Passport Instructions 5a

For those of you researching an ancestor of this period, particularly but not exclusively a British prisoner of war in France, these passenger lists may be most useful.

©2022 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


The FGB Is Back!

Hard at Work

 

Well, Dear Readers, have we ever left you for so long? A thousand apologies. You have not been abandoned, we assure you and we thank those of you who wrote to ask if all has been well (it has) and to tell of how our blog has helped you in your research (very kind of Madame MBT, especially).

Where have we been of late? Working on a number of projects:

  • An online talk on Researching French Jewish Ancestors for the Center for Jewish History in June
  • A talk for the Board for Certification of Genealogists on Legacy Family Tree Webinars in December on French Migration

We will be putting up more information about those as the times approach.

We have also been on the road once again and will write soon of our visits to regional archives.

Again, many, many thanks to all of you who have written with your concern about our well being and that of the French Genealogy Blog.

Anne Morddel