Methodolgy

Is It a Surname or a Place?

French names

Rural France abounds with villages (villages), hamlets (hameaux),  and properties (lieux-dits) that have charming or peculiar names, as the case may be. Most were attached to a parish before the French Revolution, then to a commune afterward. They are notoriously difficult for the researcher to locate. Some, such as La Bachellerie, occur all over France. Some, such as Bleigeat, seem to occur nowhere except in the imagination of an immigrant in Louisiana who gave it as his place of birth (though it really does exist).

We have discussed how to use the Cassini maps and the hundreds of online Napoleonic era maps to find some of them. We have shared Professeur B.'s lecture on micro-geography and lieux-dits. We have also given an example of the case of a tricky place name found on a Natchitoches document that required help from French archivists for clarification. There are numerous websites that attempt to list all such names in France that you could try.

What to do when these place names turn up as part of a surname? We are not referring to surnames that are also place names, such as Bourges, or Paris, or Loire. Nor are we referring to "dit names", which are nicknames that, over time, became family names, such as Le Bon, or Le Sage, or Le Grand. ("Dit names" exist in France but are found much more often in Québec.) We also are not discussing here aristocratic names that are compilations of titles and locations. We are referring to the recording of a place name near to a surname in a register and the confusion that it can cause the researcher.

For example, a child whose name appears to be Léonard Farge du Piager was born in Saint-Martial-de-Gimel in Corrèze in 1813.

Du PiagerArchives départementales de la Corrèze, http://www.archives.cg19.fr/recherche/archiveenligne/

 

His parents are Jean Farge and Marie Puyrobert. Is his surname Farge du Piager, and the officer simply shortened his father's version of the name, or is his surname simply Farge and he is of a place called Piager, (which must be within the boundaries of Saint-Martial-de-Gimel to appear in this birth register)? In the search for that ever elusive comfort, certainty, you might try reading a few pages of the register. In this example, you will find that the name of each child has such an extension and the words are different. This suggests that the officer is indicating in their names where they were born, as the form offers no way to do so. Seeing this practice, you could then check one of the many lists of Corrèze's lieu-dit names for the village to verify that this is what the officer is doing.

In another town, in the same department, Espagnac, the recording officer tried to solve the problem of indicating the place, La Rivière, by putting it in the margin in the birth register.

La RivièreArchives départementales de la Corrèze, http://www.archives.cg19.fr/recherche/archiveenligne/

 

This would only cause confusion to the researcher when initially reading down the margin, assuming that the place names were surnames, as those are usually what one finds in the margin. Eventually, the penny would drop and one would see that these are not surnames of a few remarkably prolific families but place names of scattered communities.

Again in Espagnac, a different approach was tried a bit later. Here, the officer put both the surname and the place name in the margin of the birth register. In this case, it is immediately clear that the children are not all with grand monikers as the name in the registration is different from that in the margin. In the margin, the child's name appears to be Antoine Borie du Coudert, but in the registration, it is simply Antoine Borie.

Borie du Couderc

Archives départementales de la Corrèze, http://www.archives.cg19.fr/recherche/archiveenligne/

To verify that the surname is not Borie du Coudert, you could check the table annuelle at the end of the register for the year. It shows that the name is Antoine Borie, tout simple.

Espagnac naissances 1818Archives départementales de la Corrèze, http://www.archives.cg19.fr/recherche/archiveenligne/

To verify that it is a place name, you would have to check maps and lists of place names for Espagnac, as well as read through more of the register to determine the officer's procedures.

We hope that this brings no disappointment, that none of you are having to let go of a name that seemed grand but is more plain and honest. If so, try to remember that some of these place names bring no glory. Du Marais, for example, means "from the swamp".

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


A French Stumbling Block on Your GPS Road

Paris-Vienne 1902

A few years ago, we attended the excellent online study session run by "Dear Myrtle" on the book "Mastering Genealogical Proof" by Thomas W. Jones. We published our own little booklet on trying to align French documentation with the Genealogical Proof Standard. After the second session, we wrote:

      • Civil, as opposed to parish or religious, documentation in America went from almost nothing in the earlier years to documents with an increasing amount of information. In many places, birth, marriage and death records were not kept until the mid-nineteenth century. Remoter places without churches or other religious establishments had no parish records either. In France, in spite of a few revolutions, there has been a steady recording of births or baptisms, marriages and deaths or burials since the sixteenth century.
      • In America, each state, once it decided to record information about individuals, determined what to record and how. There can be at least fifty different types of birth registration, and many more when the differences at the county level are taken into consideration. In France, the department is merely an administrative division, not a separate state with its own rights that is part of a federation. France is a republic with one and only one government, directed from Paris and the directives carried out at the departmental, arrondissement and communal levels throughout the country. Thus, all civil registrations at any one time follow the same format. Historically and still today, that format for a civil registration generally contains a great deal more information than a civil registration does in America.

This means that a researcher in America has to deal with a lack of civil registration that must be supplemented with other types of documentation (such as tax records, court records, etc.) and that much of the documentation, especially if it were created in a remote area with little administration,  may not be trustworthy.  Thus, much of the emphasis of the Genealogical Proof Standard is on the quality of the source and the source of the information. In France, however, civil and legal documentation tends to be more trustworthy for the simple reason that one always has had to show a document to make a document, e.g. to show an authenticated and official copy of one's birth registration or baptism registration (or now, one's identity card) to enroll in the army or to marry.

Primary, Secondary and Indeterminable Information

This requirement enhances the trustworthiness of French documentation -- by the criteria under discussion -- significantly. One panellist, Kathryn Lake Hogan, recounted a tale of a man who, on applying for a marriage license, gave an incorrect name for his parent. This would be unimaginable in France as both of the couple must present official copies of their birth registrations in order to marry, and those birth registrations give their parents' full names.

Perhaps in that last paragraph we were a bit blithe. In the past couple of years, our research has taken us down some tiny paths into the documentation of small communities and baffling families and we have come across an odd phenomenon that would seem to be rooted in some sort of grief or madness or obsession or serious cerebral limitation. What we have encountered is, essentially, a child assuming (or having forced upon it) the identity of a deceased older sibling. The procedure seems to follow something like this:

  • A child, say Antoine, is born in 1820 and dies in 1822.
  • Another child, say Léonard, is born to the same parents in 1825. He has no middle names.
  • No other male child is born to this couple.
  • Throughout his life, Léonard gives his name as Antoine but his date of birth as in 1825. He also gives his parents' names, birth dates, marriage date and death dates correctly.
  • On the census returns, Léonard appears with his family as Antoine, with his age corresponding to his birth year of 1825.

We have just come across our fifth example of this form of resurrection (of the dead child) or soul murder (of the living child) and find it quite remarkably unusual in the way that it is outside of the pattern of love of conformity that is the hallmark of the French civil servant's mind. While it may be fascinating to wonder about what was happening in those peoples' lives to drive them to this, as genealogists, this poses a serious problem with normally reliable French documentation.

It really does seem likely that Léonard born in 1825 is using the name Antoine; and we will want to assume that when Léonard marries using the name Antoine and gives his birth in 1825 and we find the birth registration in the name of Léonard, we can use it. Only we cannot, if we are going to adhere to the Genealogical Proof Standard, because we have nothing, absolutely no documentation, to say that Léonard called himself Antoine. What we must do is build a case with a great deal more research.

  • Every census return must be examined to see all possible children
  • The research must be extended to siblings and cousins of the parents to see if, actually, this may not be a cousin Antoine with the same date of birth and with parents of the same names (not at all a rarity) and, actually, that Léonard died in a different commune.
  • The saint's day for Antoine and for Léonard must be identified for the year 1825 and for 1820 to see if any logical use of the names can be discovered.
  • Church records will have to be pursued, not an easy task for post-1792 records, as they are not in archives or public records but belong to the Church. Copies of the baptisms of both children and of the burial record of the first Antoine must be requested from the local diocesan archives to see hnow the names appear.
  • The wills and death inventories of the parents of Antoine and Léonard should be requested, to see clearly the names of their surviving children.

Certainty of identification will probably be denied the researcher. In a case such as this, we suspect that a probable identification will be the best that one can achieve.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Improve Your French Genealogy Vocabulary With YouTube

Vocabulary

 

Many of you, Dear Readers, are keen to learn more French, and we applaud your ambition. Yet, few classes in French concentrate specifically on the vocabulary necessary for genealogical research. Our own glossary lists words found in the documents, records and archives that you will discover, but what about the vocabulary necessary to discuss your research and to develop your research skills? As you progress, you will want to communicate about your genealogical research in French with archivists, or fellow researchers or even cousins. 

We propose that you listen to the pithy little lectures on the YouTube channel of Archives et Cultures. There are now one hundred and seventeen of these small lessons in genealogy. Most are about two and a half minutes long; the longest reaches all the way to four minutes. An uncredited presenter of some charm discusses all manner of genealogical and historical subjects, with good enunciation. About half are on subjects relating to daily life of long ago, discussing such delights as the washer, the iron, wooden shoes, soft toys, Father Christmas, and so on. The other half covers solid topics in genealogy, such as censuses, ten-year indices, military records, cemeteries, archives, etc.

When next you are feeling sluggish and discouraged with your French genealogy, do try one of these snippets that should both divert and educate.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

We received this lovely comment with interesting suggestions by e-mail from Mme. E.:  Bonjour, Anne,
As we are in the throes of Mardi Gras, I have not had time to listen to one of those "pithy little lectures" to which you refer in the latest post. But I would like to recommend that those who want to learn the catch-phrases and vocabulary of French genealogy, subscribe to a French society list and just lurk, reading all the questions, réponses, and discussions. It is also a good lesson in French internet etiquette. My free subscription to the GHC-Liste these past decades has been worth it's weight in 'ti sou. Of course the spoken word adds another dimension. And then there the are genealogy publications...
I look forward to every one of your blog posts and devour them with great delight. Thank you!


Correspondance Consulaire et Commerciale - an Excellent Resource

CCC-New York
The proper name for this series in the Archives diplomatiques is Correspondance consulaire et commerciale (1793-1901) (CCC) and we have recently discovered that, in some cases, it is a dandy resource for researching French in foreign lands, especially:

  • Bonapartists, after 1815
  • Deserters from French naval vessels after 1815
  • Refugees from Saint Domingue

The reason for the first two is that, after the fall of Napoleon and the First Empire, the restored royal rulers pursued Bonapartists and deserters with vindictive enthusiasm. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued orders to all consuls around the world to keep an eye on any Bonapartists and other French exiles and to attempt to note the names of sailors who jumped ship, deserting from the French navy. Consuls also noted the names of some of the refugees from Saint Domingue arriving in their cities and, later, helped them with the documentation necessary to apply for compensation for their losses from the French government.

The volumes of the CCC are full of dispatches from consuls to the Minister in Paris containing lists of names and surveillance reports. These could be of help in identifying the moment of arrival of your French ancestor and in finding more detail about his or her origins. The consuls varied in their competence and efficiency. That in New York, d'Espinville, was a diligent and enthusiastic reporter. He wrote a valuable list of sixty Saint Domingue refugees who voyaged from New York to France on the Normande in 1820. Most do not appear in the lists of colonists who received compensation, so this may be the only source connecting them to New York or to Saint Domingue, or naming them at all.

SD refugees

A number of sailors deserted from the Normande and D'Espinville made more than one list of their names:

Deserters

Such ordinary and not at all illustrious people as these sailors are often quite hard to trace. A list such as this, giving the place of birth, could significantly advance one's genealogical research.

D'Espinville, an aristocrat who lost all in the Revolution, was especially keen at surveillance of Bonapartists, not all of whom were well-known and have Wikipedia articles about them.

Surveillance New York

But beware, not all consuls were as industrious or conscientious as D'Espinville. The consul at Baltimore for the same period, the early nineteenth century, wrote no consular correspondence at all from 1803 to 1838. Prior to that, he wrote a great deal about the refugees from Saint Domingue generally but almost nothing specifically. His only list is one naming the refugees who had died.

Refugee death list Baltimore

 

The CCC is partially microfilmed but, to our knowledge is not at all available online. One must visit the Archives diplomatiques in La Courneuve and use the old but very reliable finding aid.

CCC

Then, one must really hope that the consul for the city researched did his job!

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


More and More Online - But You Have to Separate and Regroup the Sources

Strands to separate

A brief update on crucial indexing resources becoming available to you Dear Readers, albeit in the most chaotic way imaginable. Recall that we have explained many times that France's birth, marriage and death registrations, whether parish or civil, are created locally, in a commune or parish. When they reach a certain age, they are stored a little less locally, in Departmental Archives. The hold parish registrations up to 1792 and civil registrations from 1792 onward. To research your ancestor, you must know the commune or parish where the event was recorded so that you can know in which Departmental Archives the event has been stored so that you can research on that Departmental Archives' website. The trick for many, of course, is finding that parish or commune in the first place.

As we have reported here before, the race has been on between commercial genealogy websites, genealogy associations (or cercles) and a few Departmental Archives to index as many parish and civil registrations as possible in order to be seen as the best and most centralized database of French registrations and thus to win the prize of lost of paying subscribers. No one website has an nation-wide index to all registrations, but the main  contenders are:

  • Geneanet
  • Filae
  • Ancestry France (back in the game after a long snooze)
  • Bigenet (which is scheduled to shut down next month)
  • Geneabank

Where does this leave the hapless researcher? It can be very easy to search an ancestor on a website, find nothing and wrongly believe that there is nothing. They certainly will not tell you that they have indexed only a few departments' registrations and that you should also try their competitors. Once you have tried them all, how do you know that you have researched all the locations that you wanted to do? Well, the best thing to do is to check their source list before you start. Here's how:

On Geneanet, click on "Search" and, in the drop down menu, on "Genealogy Society Indexes"

Geneanet 1That takes you to a page with another drop down menu that lists all of the Genealogy Societies whose indices they present.

Geneanet 2

 

 

On Filae, scroll to the bottom of the page to "Ressources Généalogiques":Filae 1

 

If you click on "Archives départementales" you do NOT get a list of departmental archives represented on Filae, somewhat misleadingly to our mind. What you get is a page of information about each departmental archives, with the address, a link to the website and then, the names of any associations whose indices are on Filae, identified as "partenaires" (partners). Here is the page for the department of Bas-Rhin:

 

Filae 2

Going back and clicking on "Associations de généalogie" will take you to the same pages for each department as in the example above. Filae certainly seems to have the most agreements with the many departmental archives and even have managed to snag the Municipal Archives of Bordeaux ever so recently. However, the images that they show online seem to be almost exclusively civil registrations. They do have associations' indices of some parish registrations but check the page for the department to see if they have indices for the area of your research.

On Ancestry, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "partenaires",  (they do not make it easy)

 

Ancestry France

 This brings a small but not insignificant list of associations lending their work to Ancestry:

Ancestry 2

 

On Bigenet, you have both a map and a list showing the departments covered:

 

Bigenet 1

To know what associations' indices they have, click on "associations généalogiques" at the top of the page:

 

Bigenet 2


This takes you to a complete list of all the associations having indices on Bigenet:

 

Bigenet 3
 

 Lastly, on Geneabank, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "la page des associations":

 

Geneabank 1

This takes you to their complete list of associations:

 

Geneabank 2

 

N.B. Nearly all of these lists are in numerical order by the number assigned to the department. Use the list in the left-hand column on this page to know the numbers of the departments.

In each case, if the region or department in which you are researching is not in that website's list, neither will your ancestor result in a search on that website. Save yourself confusion, frustration and time wasted. Verify that the website covers your department or region of interest before you start researching their database.

Forewarned is forearmed.

©2018 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.


Join Our Online Course - First Steps in French Genealogy

VIGR

Our most recent long silence is due to our refining and perfecting the lectures we will be giving online via the VIGR, entitled First Steps in French Genealogy. We will explain in detail over four lectures how to begin your research into your French ancestry and how to use online resources. This is aimed at the beginning researcher but as we will have the luxury of time, we will be able to include many hints and details that will help even the most advanced researcher the better to interpret and use the registrations. Please do sign up now and join us!


Guest Post - Researching a French Ancestor of Berlin

Sad lady

We have received a wonderful guest post from Loyal FGB Reader, Monsieur C, detailing his research of French ancestors in Berlin and Mainz.

 

My success story for today: I have an ancestor Peter Franz Nicolas Bello (1743-1821), who lived in Berlin, married twice, had eight children, and died, all in Berlin.  But, his origins were not known.  No baptism could be found for him in Berlin.  His marriage records did not mention his parents’ names.   A few of his records, including his burial, used French forms of his names, Pierre or Francois, so I suspected he might have been French. 

Another cousin and I have been working on this problem for nearly 50 years.  We both hired separate researchers in Berlin, but no one could find anything.  Most of the French in Germany at that time seem to be Huguenots, but most of them arrived closer to 1685, so his baptism should be in Germany, right?  What to think or do?

I don’t usually subscribe to ancestry.com at the International level, as for so long they were so limited for the extra money.  But, every few years I get tempted to try again, to see if anything new turns up which is of value in my research.  

Subscribing anew, I saw that Ancestry now has a lot of pertinent Berlin records to this case, so I thought I would try to find them all and look them over for any possible clues which might point to new research.  

After successfully finding the records for his two marriages, baptisms for his eight children and his burial, one thing among them drew my attention: in the 1802 baptism for his eighth child, there was a witness, Catherine Mathee, born Bello.  Aha!  Perhaps an aunt or a sister.  Another witness was Joseph Mathee of Mainz.  Perhaps her husband or son?  Perhaps researching Catherine might reveal new information. 

1802 baptism

Searching ancestry.com for Catherine Mathee in Mainz, I was pleasantly surprised to find an 1806 Mainz death record for Catherine Matheo.  Better, it was linked to the actual record.  Better yet, the record was in French (Napoleon’s France controlled Mainz from 1795-1814, which they called Mayence), so I could mostly read it. 

1806 death

It said she was 65 (so born about 1740/41, so probably Pierre’s sister), she was born in Metz, Dept. of Moselle, and that her parents were Francois Bello and Catherine ___. 

Finally, I had a new place to look for Pierre’s baptism, records were available on-line, and possible parents’ names.  OK, maybe they weren’t Huguenots, but they were French.

Metz had 15 parishes, and it took me more than a week of paging through 1740-1743 records, looking for Pierre and Catherine, and I finally found Pierre’s baptism in the 14th parish, Saint Simplice (his mother’s name was not Catherine, though it turns out that was his paternal grandmother’s name).   

It is so pleasing to finally know his name as baptized was Pierre Nicolas François Bello, to know his birthplace of Metz, his birthdate of Dec. 8, 1743, and his parents’ names: Nicolas François Bello and Elisabeth Evrard. 

1743 baptism

After a concerted effort, I also found sister Catherine Bello’s baptism in 1741, born Jan. 7, even though it had eluded me and a later-discovered previously-published work on archive.org because the extracted “margin” name was wrong (Catherine Francois instead of Catherine Bello).  It would have saved me a many hours if I had had this reference before.  I also found via filae.com that there were also two later children not mentioned, Joseph and Pierre, who were baptized some distance from Metz. 

1741 Baptism

This case also included an interesting scenario where Pierre’s father Nicolas Francois also had a 13-years younger brother with the same name, Nicolas Francois. I have found that usually when another child in a family is given a name previously used, it is because the earlier child died. But, this is my second case where an elder child was given the responsibility of being the godparent, so the new infant received the same name.  Luckily, his younger brother had a different profession, and married three times with the record always giving either his age or his previous wife’s name, so I could distinguish them. 

I also found that Pierre’s father, Nicolas Francois Bello the elder, referenced in Catherine Bello’s death record above, also died in Mainz in 1801.  I am still working on what happened to his mother Elisabeth Evrard.  Maybe the entire family left France, perhaps during the French Revolution, I don’t know.

I used both archives.metz.fr and archives57.com, especially the former with mostly original registers and it being a little easier for me to navigate.  Lovely that they have color images of originals, and not scanned poor b/w microfilm images.  Image resolution on archives.metz.fr is limited but quality is still usually OK. 

I have since spent many more hours paging through some of the Metz registers and the 2 Protestant registers, with occasional help from filae.com indexes, I have managed to build his tree back another 4 to 6 generations, with more work that can be done. 

Once again, patience and persistence paid off.  Fifty years of. 

This break-through in this story is another example of why I like to see actual records myself, to see if maybe someone else misread or ignored something which might turn out to be important.

 Other: without any good indexes yet (filae has an extremely limited number for Metz from CG Moselle), the register scanning process (which I have done in about 12 French cities now), usually seems to involve some degree of looking at the same register pages repeatedly as one learns of more family names to keep track of, it becoming necessary to repeat the review process to find the records which were not noted during the first pass.  Many times, I have been tempted to try to make some sort index of all names in order to greatly facilitate locating any of them again, though I haven’t thought of an efficient method which might turn out to be worth the effort.  Thoughts welcome! :-)

I have also thought of trying to organize the various parish registers in a city (and nearby) by years, maybe in a spreadsheet or table, with links, but again, I see no clear elegant path, especially as some registers are B only, some are BM, some are BMS, some are MS, some are S only.  As it is, I gradually compile pages of cheat sheets as to what vue (image) number each year begins for each parish or the rare yearly index, which often turn out to be very handy in saving time later, here and there.

 

Monsieur C has shared with us a good example of cluster research, (what Elizabeth Shown Mills calls the FAN club principle) here and we are most indebted. Read the comments below to see that we are not alone in saying :Merci!

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Make a Suggestion for Our Course

Hard at work

Dear Readers, we have been hard at work on our planned course with the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research entitled "First Steps in French Genealogy". Things are coming along nicely but we thought we might ask you if there are any additional points that you would like to see covered. Please do have a look at the course outline at the link above and, if there is anything more that you would like to see included, tell us in a comment on this page or in an e-mail and we will do our best to fit it in.

Many thanks!

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


A Parisian Artisan Among Your Ancestors? - Try Eclat de Bois


Cabinet
 

It has been a difficult summer so far. A week of insanely high temperatures has left the garden parched, even after the relief of rain. The garden was then invaded by rats, vile creatures, harbingers of disease, detested. Using no poisons, or traps, ever, we are finding the battle against them a losing one. We have encouraged stone martens and snakes, but if they make a dent at all, it is a small one. How we wish we could encourage the rats to move on to the hedges and woods, but we do not seem to be able to do so and are discouraged.

Our low mood of discouragement was much lifted and transformed by using the wonderful website Eclat de Bois. The magical part of Paris known as the Faubourg Saint Antoine has a rich history as the centre for cabinetry and exquisitely made furniture and furnishings. For any of you with an artisan ancestor in Paris, especially a carpenter, weaver, cabinet-maker, gilder, or expert in any of the other skills needed to beautify a home, he or she may well have lived in the Faubourg Saint Antoine.

Yet, as many of you already know, researching Parisian ancestors was made difficult by the city's resistance to census-taking until the 1930s and the fire that destroyed the parish and civil registrations of the city's people. Researching this particular group has been much improved by the availability of the Fichier Laborde, but that covers mostly just the eighteenth century. Georges Claude Lebrun, the descendant of a cabinet-maker, has created the website, Eclat de Bois, that will help you to take your research to a new level.

This is no simple list of names but a full, and ever growing, biographical dictionary. There are limits:

  • The area covered is the Faubourg Saint Antoine and the eastern part of Paris, where all such workers tended to live
  • The time period covered is up to 1860, the year before which all parish and civil registrations were lost, this is also the year that Paris expanded from twelve to twenty boroughs (arrondissements), redrawing the boundaries of them all. The year 1860 forms a natural delineation between old and new Paris.

The true value of the research presented in the website is the variety of sources that are used and their cross-referencing, in order to give as much information as possible about a person and/or business. The astonishing list of sources includes names from:

  • Revolutionary courts
  • Electoral rolls
  • Escaped prisoner lists
  • Various lists of political prisoners and insurgents
  • The saved or reconstructed parish and civil registrations
  • Lists of victims of coup attempts
  • Lists of anarchists
  • Freemasons directories
  • The catalogue of Parisian bankruptcies
  • Those who exhibited their works at trade fairs
  • Cases taken before the Tribunal de Commerce (Commercial Court)
  • Those sent to penal colonies

In all, the site now has some 242,000 names and continues to grow. The search page is simple; just type in a surname and all those with the name as well as variations of the name are in the results. One is limited to twelve searches if not registered. Since registration is free, why not sign up and use this site to its fullest and thus discover so much more about your artisan ancestor in Paris?

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy