Alsace-Lorraine Genealogy

Was Your Ancestor an Internal Refugee in France?

Alsace girl

We recently attended a most interesting talk, hosted by one of those highly recommended local history associations. The presenters were François and Catherine Schunck, who spoke about the internal refugees who fled Alsace at the beginning of World War Two. 

There were two separate waves of Alsatian refugees, the Evacuees of 1939 and 1940 and the Expelled of 1940.

The Evacuation of 1939 - At least two years prior to the evacuation, a plan had been devised to evacuate people of the region in the event of an invasion by Germany. The plan concentrated on evacuating the people living in the narrow band between the Maginot Line and the border. When Germany invaded Poland, the plan was implemented and some 600,000 people were evacuated from Alsace and Moselle in September 1939. The evacuees were allowed thirty kilos of baggage and four days' worth of food. All else, including animals, had to be left behind. They were sent by train, in all types of cars, from passenger to cattle to freight, to the interior of France. Concurrent with the Battle of France in May and June of 1940 (which we touched on in this post), thousands more were evacuated.

Those Alsatians from the department of Bas-Rhin were sent southwest to the departments of:

  • Charente
  • Charente-Maritime
  • Dordogne
  • Vienne
  • Haute-Vienne
  • Landes

Those Alsatians from the department of Haut-Rhin were to the departments of:

  • Corrèze
  • Gers
  • Landes
  • Hautes-Pyrénées
  • Lot-et-Garonne

Those from Moselle were sent to the departments of:

  • Charente
  • Charente-Maritime
  • Dordogne
  • Vienne

The entire University of Strasbourg was evacuated and set up in Clermont-Ferrand.

The Expulsions of 1940 -After the Fall of France, in June of 1940, Germany annexed the Alsace region (yet again), and expelled some 87,000 people considered "undesirable". There was no plan for how to help them or where to send them.

In both waves of refugees, there was little order or plan for settling them when they arrived. There were a number of initial difficulties.

  • Language - Most of the Alsatians, especially the older generation, spoke German with little French. Not only did those in the departments where they arrived speak French, with  no German, but they viewed the refugees as highly suspect, speaking the language of the enemy.
  • Food - No one had prepared or gathered enough for the thousands arriving, tired and hungry, on the incessant trains. Later, on a more cultural level, the Alsatians did not like the local fare and missed their sausages. In time, some opened shops selling Alsatian foods that they made locally.
  • Housing - In the recipient cities, the refugees were placed in houses and apartments. In the countryside, however, they had to live in barns and farmhouses. At that time, the rural southwest could be quite primitive, without electricity or indoor plumbing. Many of the refugees were appalled.

And it was all for naught as, by 1942, all of France was occupied and there was nowhere else to go.

How would you research an ancestor who was such a refugee? Firstly, read through the superb finding aid produced by the Departmental Archives of Bas-Rhin, which lists every record series concerning the topic in the department. Secondly, if you know the town to which your ancestor was sent, check the 1946 census. Even though the war was over by then, it took time for people to return to Alsace after the war (and a few chose not to do so), so there is a good chance of finding them in hat census. For those who appear in the 1946 census, the place of birth, in Alsace, will be given. This will allow you to research in the pre-war records for that town. This will also show those who married local people, which will allow you to request the marriage register entry from the mairie, or town hall.

Further reading:

Williams, Maude. To Protect, Defend and Inform: The evacuation of the German-French border region during the Second World War'

 

Catherine and François Schunck. D'Alsace en Périgord

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Ancestors From Alsace? - Share Their Story With Others Around the World

Alsace Ancestors

We have touted, in the past, the very fine blog Généalogie Alsace, sharing their posts and encouraging any of you who have ancestors from Alsace to read that blog regularly. Once again, the writers are attempting something very interesting. They have put out a call to all those around the world to share their stories of their Alsatian ancestors. You can read some of the stories here.

The blog authors are preparing a series of posts on emigration from Alsace, which they plan to publish in November as their contribution to the big French genealogy bloggers event, "Challenge AZ". That requires one post per day for the month, so the authors will be keen to know your story. They will not simply reproduce your story. They will do some genealogical research about your ancestor to be able to present as full a story as possible. That, surely, is a very nice gift to you in exchange, non?

If you would like to submit your Alsatian ancestor story, have it be considered for the ChallengeAZ, and perhaps have help with your research, write to the authors here. You may write in any language, sending full documents, even illustrations and photographs. This really could be a golden opportunity for some of you!

 

©2023 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


The Journey from Alsace to the Port of Le Havre

Alsacienne

Our good friends at the blog Généalogie Alsace have asked us to share another post and we are pleased to do so as we think it may be of great interest to those of you with ancestors from Alsace. Michael Nuwer of Potsdam, New York sent to them a well researched account of how people from Alsace made the arduous overland journey to Le Havre in order to emigrate from that port. You can read the post, in English and French here; you also can read, in full, his excellent paper, "Journey to Le Havre", for as long as he leaves it on Google Drive. 

By the by, this touches on the subject of our upcoming webinar with Legacy Family Tree, "French Emigrants: They Were Not All Huguenots, or Nobles, or From Alsace-Lorraine" on 20 December at 12.00 midday Eastern Time (not 2 am on the 21st!)

©2022 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


French Jewish Genealogy - Ancien régime Geography Is Important

Hexagon of modern France

When researching Jewish genealogy before the French Revolution, the reach back into the past is long, well into the Medieval era. Borders were different then and France looked quite different, not at all like the "Hexagon" (above) of today. Prior to the final expulsion of 1394, Jewish people were permitted to live only in specific places. These might have been certain towns, within which they may have been limited to just a few streets for residence and work. They endured long years of persecution and previous expulsions, but lived throughout France. It is important to note that, in 1394, the country looked more like this:

France in 1328

 

Quite a bit less than modern France:

France-map-1328

This makes the map below, claiming to show French Jewish communities at the time of the expulsion, quite misleading, as a significant few of those supposedly French Jewish communities were not within the France of that day.

French Jewish before expulsion of 1394

 

The expulsion, in all its horror, was successful, in that no known Jewish families remained in what was then France. However, their communities just outside of France did survive, as can be seen in this map.

France-silhouette-map-1328

If you are working with only a modern map of France, you will have the impression that the three main areas of Jewish communities:

  • The Southwest
  • Alsace-Lorraine
  • The Papal States and Provence

survived the expulsion within France. That would be wrong, because they were not within France at the time of the expulsion and so, if this is not putting too fine a point on it, were Jewish, of course, but not French. The areas in black in the map just above were controlled by other powers:

  • By the English in the far northwest and the southwest region of Aquitaine
  • A tiny bit in the south belonged to the Kingdom of Navarre
  • The Holy Roman Empire held the northeast
  • Free Burgundy, Savoy and the Papal States owned all the rest of what is now eastern France

Paris, as ever, was a special case. Though no Jewish people were supposed to be living there, most likely they were. Robert Anchell, in his fascinating article on "The Early History of the Jewish Quarters in Paris", maintains that it is unlikely that Jewish people were ever, at any time since the Medieval Era, absent from Paris. He points out that they certainly must have been very discrete, for there is almost no documentation of Jewish people in Paris for nearly 300 years after the expulsion.

For research purposes, in each of the three main regions of Jewish communities there were different laws, rules, languages, customs and attitudes, making for different search methodologies today. Firstly, the language differences:

  • The Southwest received many refugees from the expulsion of Jewish people from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497, so many of the surviving documents of the region are in Spanish
  • Alsace was part of the Holy Roman Empire for eight hundred years, while Lorraine was an independent duchy that was then governed by Stanislas of Poland. In both regions, the documentation is as much in German and Latin as in French.
  • The Papal States or Comtat Venaissin, did not become a part of France until 1791, but Provence was annexed in 1481. The documentation can be in French or Latin

In all locations Jewish documents may also be in Hebrew.

For each of these regions, some of the best research may be done at the relevant Departmental and Municipal Archives. Some of these have been uploading onto their websites some very interesting Jewish materials. These are the departmental and municipal archives relevant to the specific regions:

  • Southwest:
    • Departmental Archives: Landes, Gironde, Pyrénées Atlantiques
    • Municipal Archives: Bayonne, Bordeaux
  • Lorraine:
    • Departmental Archives: Moselle, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Vosges
    • Municipal Archives: Metz, Nancy
  • Alsace:
    • Departmental Archives: Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin
    • Municipal Archives: Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Colmar
  • Papal States / Comtat Venaissin:
    • Departmental Archives: Vaucluse
    • Municipal Archives: Nîmes

Do visit those websites and start exploring!

©2022 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Do You Dare to Try to Research Your Alsace Ancestors Online - in French?

Alsace plate

We have had a missive from Christine and Laure, who write the wonderful blog Généalogie Alsace. They have put together a brief series of instructional posts for those who live far from that pretty region of France and must research their Alsatian ancestors online. The posts are in French but are very clear and easy to understand (or to translate)

The first, "For Those of You Who Are Far From Alsace", explains the basics of Alsatian emigration in the nineteenth century and gives some understanding of the region's geography, especially the two departments, Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin.

The second, "How to Research an Ancestor from Bas-Rhin Using the Internet", explains just that. It lists and explains the most useful archives and, where websites exists, gives links. 

The third does the same for the department of Haut-Rhin. This may be your best hope if your ancestors come from Haut-Rhin, as the notoriously unhelpful archivists of that department's archives will never provide any service by post or e-mail.

The last may be a bit much, for it explains how to transcribe and then translate Alsatian German records....into French. Why not try it even if it does seem preposterously difficult?

You have, in the posts linked above, a complete beginner's course in Alsace genealogical research.

Many thanks to Christine and Laure.

©2022 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Amodiateur, Amodiataire, Amodieur, Amodiatrice, Admodiateur

Farm land

Our previous post, on the Ferme générale, brought this query from Monsieur B:

Thank you for the treasure trove of genealogical information in your scholarly article “Was Your Ancestor an Employee of the Ferme Générale?”.

My ancestor.... from Moselle,  was “admodiateur de ruisseau”

Despite the imposing title, [he] evidently could not write as he signed his name with a + mark. His children’s marriage entries (1720s) identify him as admodiateur, but his 1729 Catholic burial entry has him simply as “laboureur....”

FamilySearch under France Occupations lists admodiateur as a national agent.

Geneawiki defines admodiateur as a person who takes land (sharecropper) for a fee either in money or in kind.

Questions:

1) Would these small admodiateurs have been a part of the Ferme Générale tax collection scheme in France?
2) If so, would there be written records as evidence for their precise activities?

I’ll be poking around at the links placed in your fine article and see how I fare ....

 

There seems to be a bit of misinformation floating about on this one. In the definitions above, FamilySearch would seem to be dead wrong and Geneawiki correct but incomplete. 

Firstly, language being the joyously fluid thing that it is, the word has more than one form and more than one meaning, depending on the time and place of usage. The three meanings we have found are: 

  1. A landowner who leases his or her land to another to be farmed
  2. A person who rents from another land to be farmed, synonymous with metayer, a sharecropper. Note, however, Alfred Cobban's description of the synonym in "The Social Interpretation of the French Revolution" (page 20), "A word such as métayer, like the large social group it described, has no English equivalent." He goes on to explain: "...the generally accepted picture of the métayer...is of a poverty-stricken tenant or a small-holding with a short three, six- or nine-year lease, hiring the equipment and stock as well as the land, and paying for it partly if not wholly, in kind." He cites the historian Paul Bois who found that, in many cases, the métayer could be quite well off, leasing as much as fifty hectares and owning the farm equipment, or he could be leasing as few as three hectares that had to be cultivated by hand as he did not even have access to a plough. The same broad definition may also apply to amodiateur.
  3. An agent of a large landowner (especially of an abbey) who manages such leases. 

In the first two meanings, amodiateur does not mean a profession but indicates a contractual agreement; only in the third sense could it be termed a profession, or métier. In the nineteenth century, linguists attempted to separate one of the meanings by assigning amodiataire to the second meaning but it seems not to have survived in usage. The law recognizes only the first two meanings for an amodiateur (masculine form) or an amodiatrice (feminine form).

Secondly, as to further different forms of the word, admodiateur was more common in the east, in Burgundy and Lorraine and as far as Switzerland. The verb, amodier, means to lease for a fee to be paid in grain.

Thus, Monsieur B, the ancestor who was an admodiateur de ruisseau, was leasing a stream, perhaps for fishing, perhaps for irrigation, possibly for milling (but this is less likely as he would then have been called a miller, meunier, a quite different activity from that of a labourer who leased stream rights). As to your questions:

  1. No, an amodiateur was not a part of the tax collecting operations of the Ferme générale. (FamilySearch's misunderstanding may come from this definition by the historian, François Lassus, which we translate rather freely: "The amodiateur of an estate was a sort of collector, 'fermier générale' who managed all of the land, the rights, the leases and collection of rents..." We emphasize in bold the key point that he is referring to an agent of an estate not the State.)
  2. Our definitions of the word in this post are based on the online dictionaries on DICFRO, and CNRTL. To know more about what your ancestor's specific rental agreement, it would be necessary to find the contract, probably among the local notarial records. To research from whom he was leasing the stream, we suggest that you look at the Cassini map for the town and locate the nearest large abbeys or estates that might have owned the stream (though it is possible that the owner was much further away; only the contract would reveal the owner with certainty).

Tricky one!

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

 


Research Under Confinement or "Lock Down"

We opine, Dear Readers, that it is unfortunate that the words for our staying at home during this pandemic are all words used for imprisonment, such as "confinement" or "lock down". In truth, we are not in prison. We are not criminals who have acted against the public good in a selfish and greedy manner. We are all engaged in the largest, shared, voluntary act for the public good in the history of humanity. None of us wants to fall ill but more, none of us wants to make others ill. Billions of people are staying home, sacrificing work, education and socialization, in an unselfish determination to put the good for all above the need of the individual. Our heroism is obviously not on the level of the heroism of those risking their lives for the public good by tending the ill, but it exists. It is our view that we are witnessing an astonishing and beautiful truth about our species. It is that we can, all of us, work together for the good of all. 

Nevertheless, staying at home can be dull. Even our belovèd ninety year old uncle in California is finding it all a bit tedious, not being able to go for his long walks around town. So, back to French genealogy, in the hope that the rigours of research and a busy mind will quell the twitchings of inactive limbs. 

Continuing with a quick list of useful websites for research:

 

FRENCH WHO EMIGRATED

ASIL Europe XIX - A most interesting website of European migrants during the nineteenth century, including those who were expelled from France. It is the work of a university. We find that such sites tend to be fabulous and then (why? because someone got his or her PhD and wandered off?) they disappear, so use it quickly. We first wrote about this here.

Bagnards -  From 1853 to 1952, France sent more than 100,000 prisoners to penal colonies, primarily to French Guyana and New Caledonia. In our previous post, we already recommended the site of ANOM, but this takes to directly to the bagnards section.  Note that a new aspect is that the registers have now been digitized. For much more about the bagnards, read our post here.

Basques Who Went to Argentina - These are the registers maintained of those Basques who sailed to Argentina, of whom there are now an estimated ten million descendants. Read our original post on this here.

Via Bordeaux - As we have written, the Bordeaux port records were burned, so there are no passenger lists. However, this is a wonderful database of the passports issued to those who sailed from Bordeaux, as emigrants or not, that can be searched and the original documents viewed. Read our original post about the passports here and how to combine your research in them with Ancestry's records here.

Communards who were deported are listed in full on a blog dedicated to the subject. For more on the Paris Commune, read our post here.

Mauritius or Réunion - This has some overlap with ANOM's site, but also has information of its own, including lists of first emigrants to these islands, many names with pages of extracted information from parish registrations. See our original post on this here.

FrancoGene - a well-known and excellent website on early emigrants from France to North America.

Emigration to Algeria - If, like us, you despise flashing advertisements all over a page you are trying to read, if the ugly images are an offense to your eye, if the harping phrases an insult to your intelligence, you may wish to view this site's fine collection of information with an ad-blocker on your browser. Read our original post on the workers' convoys to Algeria here.

Passenger and Crew Lists from Le Havre and Rouen - The Departmental Archives have digitized a collection of passenger lists discovered after World War II in one of the few buildings not bombed by the Allies. The lists cover voyages from Le Havre or Rouen on French registered vessels that returned to Le Havre or Rouen in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They are not indexed and are arranged by date. Read our post explaining this site here.

 

May these websites help you to soar with a sense of freedom as your research takes you across the globe and back in time. More to come, mes amis!

©2020 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

(We had intended to put at the top of this post a picture of a fountain as we have read that donating fountains to one's community is, in certain cultures, a most-honoured act for the public good, but Typepad's image insertion is malfunctioning today.)


Our Eleventh Birthday - In Quarantine!

11th Birthday under lockdown pink

Ah, Dear Readers, many predicted this but could any of us have imagined life under quarantine? When we began our series about researching American mariners on the twenty-second of January, the press contained a few reports of an epidemic of some concern in far away China. By the time the series came to an end, a couple of weeks ago, the entire world was battling a pandemic and most of us in quarantine at home.  Like everyone else, The FGB is soldiering on as best as possible, doing French genealogical research.

In truth, much as we adore visiting the currently shut archives of France, we also take great pleasure in online research. For any of you who have been with us since the beginning, you will know that part of our mission is to explain to you, in English, how to research your French ancestors online. What better time than now to do an update on our favourite sites? 

GENERAL, BROAD RESEARCH

The index to the finding aids of the Archives nationales

Forever being updated, so always worth checking again and again, this is one of the first places to begin researching any French, especially Parisian, ancestor. It is not only for the prominent. All kinds of people from all parts of the country crop up here. Our post here explains how to log on.

Ancestry

Ancestry is not particularly useful for French research but it is excellent for tracing all possible documentation on a French ancestor who went to another country, in that country. Immigrant records of the USA, Australia and the UK about a French ancestor's new life can be excellent in finding all versions of the person's name, his or her birthdate and birth place. The same holds true for MyHeritage.

FamilySearch

The site has more and more French records scanned but the indexing than a kindergarten crafts room when the children have just left it. Use with grave caution or only when you know exactly what you seek and where it should be.

Généanet

This and the next are France's largest and most important commercial genealogy research sites. Généanet has a messy, outdated interface but is a superb resource, especially for original documents from Paris and especially for people of the eighteenth century.

Filae

Filae is better for researching people in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Of particular value are two national censuses that have been indexed, that of 1872 and that of 1906. Additionally, the French office of statistics (INSEE) death records are, in many cases, the only way to find a death that occurred after 1902. With access in English.

Geopatronyme

Check your surname here. French names were contorted, some beyond recognition, in anglophone countries. Once you start researching French records, you need to have the correct name. Playing with your variations on Geopatronyme will help you to see what is and what is not possible. Read our original post about this site here.

 

LOCATION SPECIFIC RESEARCH

Begin with the websites of the Departmental Archives relative to the department where your French ancestor lived. See the links in the column to the left. Recall that many large cities have their own websites. Marseille, Brest, Paris, Lyon and many more have digitized documentation not found on the websites of the Departmental Archives. To find the sites, search, or google, the city name and "archives municipales".

ANOM

For ancestors who lived in the French colonies, overseas territories or overseas departments, the Archives nationales d'outre-mer are the best place to begin. Read our report on a talk about this service by the archivist here.

Optants

If your ancestors said they were from Alsace-Lorraine, this website has listed the names of those who, from outside the region in 1872, claimed French nationality. Read our first post about the Optants here.

Projet Familles Parisiennes

This superb site is a treasure of documentation on eighteenth century Parisian families. The index links to digitized documents from the National Archives hosted on the website of Généanet but are free to view. Read our post about the project here.

 

 

We will list more good sites in our next post.

During this time of confinement for the public good, perhaps we all can extend our French genealogy networks. Take very good care, Dear Readers.

©2020 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


Finding Early French Mennonites of Vosges and Haut-Rhin

 

Map compass

As those of you who have worked on this group will know already, this is a difficult patch of research territory. Briefly, because of their beliefs, their language differences (generally, they spoke German rather than French), and their separateness from the Catholic Church, documenting the Mennonites (known as Anabaptistes, and henceforward here as well) in France is difficult.[1]

  • Because they were pacifists, they do not appear in the excellent genealogical resource of military records
  • The territories were not French when they came to Montbéliard or Salm or Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; they were principalities that had to cooperate with France and that would one day be absorbed by France. Thus any archives pertaining to them in those places will be in France, but will be arranged according to the structure of the principality’s administration.
  • The Anabaptists were not keen on registration. Eventually, however, they did, in France, begin to register baptisms and marriages, especially at Montbéliard and in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, at the Reformed German Church. These registers are not, at the time of writing, online, though extracts from the latter are beginning to appear on Filae.
  • Most Anabaptists in the principalities were not permitted to own land but only to rent it. Some rental and even some sale agreements survive but the wealth of land registry records contains little or nothing concerning them.
  • The French did not begin a formal, national and regular census until 1836, far too late for the study of this group. However, certain Anabaptist censuses of the early eighteenth century in France survive, but they give little detail, being just a list of names of the men who headed families.
  • The Anabaptists rarely used notaires to formally document and register their agreements. They did not have marriage contracts, wills or inheritance issues. Disputes were resolved amongst themselves. The result is that an extremely rich resource is unlikely to be so rich for this type of research.

Thus, researching Anabaptists in French archives is quite a specialized pursuit and is very different from research into French Catholic families of the same time period and all of the wonderful resources we have oft described on this blog are pretty much useless.

Yet, we see no reason to give up. We have struggled with them before, in Montbéliard, and we most recently have soldiered on in the archives of Vosges and Haut-Rhin.

In the Departmental Archives of Vosges can be found the archives of the Principality of Salm, one of the states that gave refuge to Anabaptists on the run from less welcoming religious climes. It is not a huge collection; the entire list is on not many pages in a single binder. In the late eighteenth century, the territory became French and all relating to the same people and places will suddenly be in French records.

A few suggestions for where to look, based on where we have found success:

  • In 1790, when the Revolutionary government sold off biens nationaux, the property taken from churches, the crown and nobility, you will occasionally find Anabaptist farmers buying the property they had been renting. Begin with the principality’s lease records, then look not only in the biens nationaux lists but in notarial records for the sale, the acte de vente.
  • Anabaptists may have been officially tolerated, but they were not always so in every corner of the principality. It seems that, if they broke laws or customs, they were very likely to have been prosecuted for it while, in the same situation, a local person might have received a warning. (Sadly, this ignorant suspicion of all persons foreign has not yet disappeared from modern humanity.) So, a trawl through the judicial records during the period when your ancestor was alive may bring some interesting discoveries.

In the Departmental Archives of Vosges, we came across no census of Anabaptists such as the well-known 1703 and 1708 listings of Anabaptists in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines (much copied all over the Internet).

In the Departmental Archives of Haut-Rhin, the documents in Series E relating to Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines are chaotically arranged, even after a few attempts have visibly altered the finding aids, but they contain nuggets. In addition to the census returns mentioned above, we found:

  • A 1732 census of inhabitants by religion, including Anabaptists.
  • A carton full of individual requests by Anabaptists to be allowed to settle in the Seigneurie de Ribeaupierre. Each one tells a story, each is in German, and each has the same representative’s or agent’s signature at the bottom.
  • One fine family’s names and relationships all listed in a certificat de bonne meours (saying they were exemplary citizens) issued to them when due to the 1712 expulsion issued by Louis XIV being enforced in the seigneurie as well, they had to leave. The wording is quite touching; clearly, they would be missed.

Further Reading

It will be hard work but always interesting.

 

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy 

[1] Séguy, Les Assemblées, pp.15-19.


The Departmental Archives of Haut-Rhin

AD-HR

 

Oh, this is a tough one, Dear Readers, a very tough one, indeed, and through no fault of the expert archivists and their extremely busy staff. It is merely that the collections held here are from such a jumbled history of different languages and traditions, different provenance, and different administrative structures that they are difficult for anyone to sort out and use.

Certainly, they are the toughest that we have ever yet attempted. It took us a day to manage to find our way just a bit through the finding aids, which are only the first step. This, though the archives have produced numerous explanations as to how to use them. In some case, one must use four different finding aids, each referring to another, to find the code for a carton. This is because archives must be stored in the sense in which they were created; only a fool would rearrange them according to his or her modern idea of order. (We have witnessed such chaos but, thankfully, not here.)

The staff were generous with their time in helping all users to find their way, but it was often difficult for them too. In one instance, we had managed to use the finding aids successfully and had a list of codes for cartons to request, yet we could not get the system to accept those codes. We asked for help. It took the archivist, asking all the others present thirty minutes of trying various possibilities before he had success. This is not incompetence, we assure you; this is extreme complexity. Later, in conversation with other users, all agreed that the finding aids and the archives were the most complex and difficult that we had ever encountered.
 

ADHR

The interior is modern and very accommodating. The exterior needs a bit of work, shall we say. There are oddities that indicate an amateur architect did the new inside: a glass door to the Reading Room that bangs loudly, motion sensors for lights that are placed incorrectly.  These are minor details.

Instead of proper lockers, there are small, open cubicles for one's belongings, such as we called "cubbies" all those years ago in kindergarden. In fact, there is a general air of authoritarianism and elementary school about the structure. Outrageously loud buzzers go off fifteen minutes before closing time; failing that, an assistant bellows that we must prepare to leave. The entire service closes for an hour at lunch time. This is the only Departmental Archives where we have encountered this closure, and it is a significant loss of research time.

We think we may have come across the cause of the hysteria found in the municipal archives about photographs.

 

Booklet

Key articles in this document state that one must request permission to take photographs of documents (this is the same as in most archives). However, the permission to photograph is not permission to publish.

 

Reutilisation

The sentence in bold makes it very clear that the permission to photograph is not permission to publish. Additionally:

 

And more

It does not in any way grant the photographer copyright of the contents of the image. Presumably, similar rulings, with similar draconian wording,  apply in the Municipal Archives of Colmar.

In such a difficult situation, this is where you see the value of the tremendous volunteer work done by genealogy associations. There are, on shelves, dozens of bound volumes of extracts of parish and civil registrations, sorted by town and then type and name. In this case, they are those done by the Association Généalogique et héraldique du Val de Lièpvre et Environs  but they contain more than is on the website or that has been put on Filae by the same. They are a wonderful aid, though they do not exist for every single town yet.

The archivists here deserve medals for heroism and expertise. They seem to be understaffed and yet are constantly available to answer the innumerable questions necessary. We really are very grateful to them and extend our thanks here.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy