Guest Post - a Grand Genealogy Fair in the South of France

Mauguio 1

We could not get to the south of France for this wonderful genealogy event, much as we longed to be there, so we are very pleased and grateful to be able to give you a full and complete report on it from Marie-Luce Lauer.

 

 

Mauguio - 23-24. March 2019

Spring seems to be a good season for genealogy events. This weekend the Journées Généalogiques et Historiques de Mauguio took place for the 18th time in the Espace Morastel : not an official building but something very typical of the southern wine-producing Languedoc, the old, converted winegrower’s cooperative. Initiated in 2002 by 2 members of the substantial Cercle Généalogique de Languedoc (CGL - created in 1978 and now with about 1000 members) and a passionate Cultural Attaché of the municipality, this fair cannot be missed by the genealogists and local historians.

 

Mauguio 2

Friday is children's day: the local schools organize with the CGL a reflexion about family and roots and the results can be seen in the very creative family trees on display during the Salon.

 

Mauguio 3


Saturday 9 AM, the exhibitors are almost ready: of course all the southern associations have answered the call, coffee and some cakes are kindly waiting for them at the refreshment bar and local radios or TV channels start interviewing the organizers.

Mauguio 4

Outside, no sign of the crowd as you could see in Paris one week ago… OK, the weather was suddenly summery (20°C at 9 AM) and people hesitated between a day on the beach (6 kilometers from the exhibition) and a picnic in the fragrant pine forests. But on Sunday afternoon a lot of them realized that they no longer had time left and hurried to Mauguio,

Inside, the Cercle Généalogique de Languedoc occupy an important space, divided between their local sections of Montpellier, Haute Garonne, Gard and Paris, their databank, their thematic space and their local history research section.

More than 40 other exhibitors are present. Most of them stand for a well-defined region, and most of them are old acquaintances, sometimes also even old friends, meeting in all genealogical exhibitions and with friendly cooperation in their common passion, genealogy… Really? Yes, would you like an example? Last year, the Cercle Généalogique du Pays Cannois came to us Généalogie Algérie Maroc Tunisie, and explained that it would be possible to select in their data bank all people who were related to those in our data bank and asked if we would be interested; as we left, we had got three files kindly offered by them.

 

Mauguio 5

It could be the touchstone for the difference between two Salons that are so close in the calendar and so dissimilar in their nature: the commercial aspect here is not so significant. As a proof, the great flagships of the French genealogy world are not to be found here. Of course Archives et Culture are present, with all their new publications: where else could you have the possibility to verify if a new book will help you in your research and to decide to buy it or not? But you can walk along all of the aisles, and you cannot find the commercial genealogy companies of FILAE, Geneanet or even Heredis, the “local hero”;  they are notable by their absence.

This familiar aspect can also be noticed in the apéritif dinatoire that takes place on Saturday evening: the exhibitors don’t escape; they all stay for this convivial moment (admittedly, it’s easier here than in the capital city). After the welcome speeches of the CGL, the Mayor and the cultural attaché reaffirmed their support of the Salon. In this nice atmosphere we all shared the specialities brought by all the members.

Mauguio 6

Another important point to pick up. The Archives Départementales de l’Hérault take a very active part in this Salon. Some five people from the archives attended the Salon the whole weekend, including their Director. If you ask her about their motivation for coming to the Salon for what is now the eighth time, she says "There’s no better occasion for us to meet and know our “clients”". Of the four talks, two were given by the Archives Départementales. One related to their current work, their projects or improvements, and the other one to a specifically genealogical theme: this year “How to find the history of a house through time”.

It’s not impossible that the people at the Salon de la Généalogie Paris 15° who answered you “It’s Paris” would comment about Mauguio that “It’s the provinces” with a slightly disdainful tone, but do they forget that almost all the Parisians were, not so long ago, provincials themselves?

 

Photo credits : * Michel Manilève - Cercle Généalogique de Languedoc

Guest post author: ◊ Marie-Luce Lauer - Généalogie Algérie Maroc Tunisie

 


Guest Post - Preserving and Restoring Your Old Photographs

Photograph restoration

We were contacted by people from a company in Germany called InstaRestoration, asking if they might submit a guest post. Normally, we refuse all such promotional efforts, but this submission does give some useful advice, so we decided to accept it. Please be aware that we do not know any of the company's employees and have never used its services but that we do think that the advice given below might help you, Dear Readers, to preserve your photographs (by not, for example, spilling  pasta sauce all over such treasures, as we once did).

 

I am Peter Rosenkranz from InstaRestoration.com a professional online photo restoration service with instant quotes. We are able to repair all kinds of damages such as watermarks, scratches, cracks or even photos torn into pieces. The image above was sent to us by a French Lady. She found the photo in an old box after her mother had passed away. Although she is not certain who that man is, she strongly believes this could be her father, who she has never met or seen before. We digitally restored the only photograph of her parents to its original state.

About 80% of all our restoration works are old family photos. An estimate of 60% of these photographs have suffered severe damage because of improper storing or displaying. In this tutorial, I would like to explain to you how to properly archive your old photographs and thereby save your family history.

First of all, you have to understand that the process of deterioration is very very slow. Most things that harm your photograph won't become visible today or tomorrow but eventually, they will. Keep in mind that the way you store your prints affects them day by day, year by year.

Here are some simple guidelines you should apply to guarantee proper archiving of your family photos.

1. Use acid free and bleach free materials.
When buying boxes or archiving sleeves to store your prints make sure that they are approved for archiving. Although paper sounds pretty natural it's often produced by using acid and bleach.

2. Temperature and humidity
This one is the most important one. Make sure that your photographs are stored in a dry and cool place. Most people store them either on the attic, which is too hot, or in the basement, which is too humid. High humidity causes mold and fungus and high temperatures bleach your photographs.

3. Photos only!
We literally have seen it hundreds of times. People storing their photos in boxes full of stuff that doesn't belong there. Every time you move the box the objects inside scratch the sensitive surface of the photographs, slowly worsening the damages. Put photographs in a photograph only box. No necklaces, no rings or any keepsakes. If you want to make things as safe as possible put each photograph in a single archive sleeve.

4. Ultraviolet light
The number one reason for faded and bleached out photographs. As much as sunlight hurts our skin it hurts photographs. Always try to hide your family photos form direct sunlight. If you display them in your living room or office make sure to use frames with UV blocking glass. The safest way is to only display a copy of the photo and store the original.

5. Adhesives
Most of us are guilty of this one. They might come in handy and are easy to use but those sticky strips and other adhesives often include chemicals that will slowly deteriorate the quality of your prints. Never use those things on one of your original photos.

6. Air pollutants
This one might sound silly but don't store your photos next to paint thinners or aggressive cleaning agents. What makes you dizzy makes your photographs dizzy as well.

7. Framing
When framing your images make sure to buy good quality frames. Quite often humidity and temperature cause your photograph to stick to the frame's glass. This is pretty much the worst thing to happen. To prevent that from happening buy either frames with a distance between picture and glass or use a special transparent plastic sheet in between glass and print.

8. Create digital copies
Always create digital copies of your images.

Apply these simple steps and you're good to go.
If any of your images are already damaged and you'd love to get them repaired check out our website.

 

 

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Was Your Ancestor a French Magistrate?

Judge

The most interesting talk that we attended at the Salon de la généalogie was that given by historian, author, researcher, and an editor of Criminocorpus (about which we have written here), Dr. Jean-Claude Farcy, on the database that he created, Annuaire rétrospectif de la magistrature XIXe-XXe siècles, ("Retrospective Directory of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries"). The result of fifteen years of research and unfortunately presented on a drab, clumsy and awkward website (how is it that the country that gives us UbiSoft at the same time is notorious for rubbish websites?) this is yet a brilliant gathering of information on hundreds of France's magistrates.

The intention in creating the website was not so much genealogical as to historical, looking at each court or judgeship. Thus, the search es are designed to show a judgeship or position through time, listing all of the people who held the position and the dates when they did so. Yet, searches by surname are possible, so the site can be used to research a particular person. All of the search pages have the annoying quirk of requiring that a date be given, and in the required format. If no date be given, the form reverts to blank fields, with no explanation as to why. Another annoying point is that to search for Paris, one must recall that for most of the nineteenth century it was in the department of Seine, so one must put that as the location.

The results of any search are, however, impressive. Especially useful is that all sources, bibliographic and archival, for the information are provided. The details of these sources are given in full, ensuring not only that a user can trust but also can verify the information found here.

Included also are magistrates in Algeria, Guadeloupe, Martinique and other ex-colonies and overseas territories and departments. Genealogical research for these areas can be quite difficult and this website may offer an alternative route for tracing an ancestor.

Dr. Farcy is the author of the guide to research in French judicial records, Guide des Archives Judiciaires at Pénitentiaires, 1800-1958, which can be downloaded free of charge here, or viewed as a scanned book on Gallica here, or purchased as a new and slightly reworked version here.

More on the superb work of Dr. Farcy in future posts.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Salon de la généalogie Paris 15e

Salon entrance

We have intended for some time to attend this annual event but the fates colluded with one another and conspired against our innocent plan. Until now, the fifth year that it has taken place, when we have at last succeeded in attending, twice. It was most impressive.

The "Grand salon de la généalogie" takes place in the Town Hall, or Mairie, of the fifteenth arrondissement of Paris, in two rooms on two floors of that imposing building. The rooms were far too small for the crowd that was there on a Thursday afternoon, much more comfortable for the slightly smaller crowd that showed up on Saturday, when we were able to attend with Madame O. It seems obvious that new accommodation will be required sooner rather than later.

There are moments when, in our intrepid reporting for you, Dear Readers, we feel that intense scrutiny may not be the best approach. We then take another approach to studying a situation, of standing aside and observing said situation (or, room, in this case) in its entirety. We found a spot up a few stairs, giving us an excellent view. What we observed at this salon was a presence of the same exhibitors of local genealogy societies or cercles, the same offensively oversized publicity posters of the commercial genealogy companies, the same professional genealogists at their tables as are always present at the Congrès national de généalogie we have described to you so often.

Salon

Yet, here, in this salon, there was more vibrant interest, more keen participation than, sad to say, we have ever seen at the Congrès event. As we continued our observation, it became apparent to us that one individual seemed to be moving everywhere, at times with the speed of a cockroach on amphetamines, speaking to everyone, instructing those at the very long table selling the publications of Archives & Culture (the sponsor of the salon, by the way), adjusting signs, seating, and anything else that was not perfect. We have never met Marie-Odile Mergnac, doyenne of genealogy publishing and author of about half of the books produced by her company, that selfsame Archives & Culture, but there was no mistaking the fact that this dynamo could be no other than she.

Salon Archives et Culture

We were awed as we watched her manipulate and manage the presenters and salespeople, all those with stands, with a quick and quiet efficiency. It would appear that she is also able to do this with consideration and finesse for we looked closely at the faces of those she instructed to see their reactions after she walked away and saw nary a negative one. Can the obvious success of this salon, seemingly so superior to the increasingly sad Congrès national de généalogie, really be down to the impressive skills of one woman? May we dare to add that the salon's success may also have been due to an element of that impetus so despised and reviled by the French: seeking to make a profit? As a large percentage of the exhibitors were also authors of books published by Archives & Culture, this is not an unreasonable supposition.

We decided to speak to some of the people we know who had stands there in order to test our theory. "How do you find this event in comparison with the Congrès?" we asked each. A disdainful "Pfffft!" was the general reply, meaning "No comparison," accompanied by just the slightest hint of that famed, French shrug. We then asked our key question: "Why do you think this event is so much livelier and better attended?" We expected some comment about the organizer or about business versus voluntary activity, which would support our theory, but no. Each gave us the same quizzical look, as if do say "Do you really need to ask?" Then they blurted the obvious for this poor foreigner: "C'est Paris!" ("It's Paris!")

Paris, Dear Readers, depending upon what kind of French person you may be, is either the heart and soul of France, or no part of France at all. In either case, the city seems to be able to add a frisson to all that takes place within her walls.

Paris

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Seeking a Sailor in the French Navy in World War II

French Navy

Because of legal restrictions to access, it is rather difficult to research the men and women who fought in the Second World War in France. For those who fought in the Resistance or secretly, it is even more difficult, as documents were destroyed, or may exist only under an unknown nom de guerre, or never were created in the first place. As the participants age and leave this world, memories and secrets are lost forever. Many have established associations or organizations to preserve camaraderie and their memories. Unfortunately,  their websites and their use of social media are not always the most sophisticated, so their laudable work often is missed.

For those of you seeking a parent or grandparent who served in the French Navy during World War Two, a bit of understanding of history is most necessary. Essentially, France was conquered and divided. Neither half was free. Occupied France was under Nazi rule and Vichy France was neutral and independent, but only so long as it complied with Nazi instructions. The French Navy's history during the war reflects this division. Part of it followed De Gaulle and part of it remained with Vichy France. It cannot have been an easy choice. (Should you wish to know more, we suggest that you read an extremely detailed defense of their positions by Rear Admiral Paul Auphan and Jacques Mordal, The French Navy in World War II.) 

Once you have done your homework and understand the French Navy at that time, you will then be better equipped to research the website of ALAMER, of primitive design and much valuable information. It is dedicated to preserving the memories of all those who were at sea between 1939 and 1945, with a recent addition of information on World War One. It is not an official site of the Marine française but one created by those who were there and, more recently, by those researching them. Here, you will find:

But the website is more than lists and ALAMER does more than just create those lists. There are photographs, of individuals and of vessels, and there are PDF versions of all issues of their publication, Faisons le point.

Excellent resource.

Other posts on naval research: 

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Napoleon Called Them "My Soldiers"

Napoleon 1

Whatever else may be said of the man, Napoleon cared deeply for his soldiers. He rode with them, fought with them, spoke to them from the heart, planted shade trees for them along the roads they had to march. Perhaps that loyalty that he felt for them was felt just as deeply on their side for him, and that may be why so many of you, Dear Readers, generations later, still write of your ancestor having been in "Napoleon's Army", of having "fought with Napoleon", and why you are so determined to prove that service. It is getting a great deal easier.

One really must praise the role that Geneanet is assuming in French genealogical research. If FamilySearch remains utterly bogged down in nothing more than French parish and civil registrations and Filae is at the forefront in increasing access to other French records such as census returns, the Bulletin des Lois and numerous collections that have already been indexed or extracted in some way, Geneanet is staking out the territory of deeper research, new scans of documents and collaborative indexing. The more interesting work can be found by clicking on "Projets" in the menu, then on "Autres projets" (Other projects).

Geneanet menu

There, you can find Matricules Napoléoniens 1802-1815, the astonishingly ambitious project of indexing the entirety of the registres matricules (muster rolls) of the Imperial Guard and the infantry of the line from 1802 to 1815. The muster rolls have been available for some time on the website Mémoire des Hommes, as we explained here, but they are not indexed on that site. One must know the regiment of the person sought and then trawl through the many, many pages of muster rolls. The only other way to find this information  has been to visit the relevant Departmental Archives and search through any surviving First Empire conscription lists.

This indexing project, which has already indexed over 600,000 names and is headed by the rather intimidating Alain Brugeat, will transform Napoleonic military research, for it will break through the barrier of Departmental Archives isolation, (the research equivalent of a virus breaching the blood-brain barrier). Once complete, it will, in effect, provide an index that will link to images of the national, military, regimental muster rolls (on Mémoire des Hommes) as well as, in some cases, to the Departmental Archives' First Empire conscription lists (images digitized and held on Geneanet). 

Now, Geneanet just needs to upgrade its capacity for searching these muster rolls. At the moment, they can be searched by name only. For genealogists to be able to exploit this new resource fully, a much more sophisticated search must be possible.

Kudos all round for this.

©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!


Geneanet's New Palaeography "Tool"

Palaeography

Well, Dear Readers, we have finished our course on French notarial records and wish to thank heartily all of you who attended. As is always the case, a teacher learns a great deal from her pupils. Your questions and comments, along with your impressive assignment work, taught us a great deal and took us down new paths of discovery.

One of those paths, after a student's asking for more help with those older and very difficult to read notarial records, took us to Geneanet's boast of a terrific new aid in deciphering documents. In its "Projets-Registres" menu, once a country (say, France) a department (say, Ille-et-Vilaine) and a location (say, Gévezé) and document (say, the notarial Minutes Hardouin) have been selected, the tool bar on the left contains a new icon that looks something like a scroll in a cartoon.

Palaeography tool

Click on that and a nice little sample of letters pops up.

Palaegraphy aid

You still have to wade through the document on your own. Our own personal dream of a palaeography expert robot we can yell at has not yet been invented. Our belovèd offspring assured us that the free open source OCR tool was the next best thing. (How adorable is the faith in technology of the young.) We tried the above paragraph and were rewarded with the following transcription:

° = ? , ; “ k | .
gout Bu FRE Ge aitu 19 Sets |
Guañ (ve (y f Ps 7 1249 2OAT À etoh?) à? {y Fpue Ji !
: . / - .
Laururcais D De vusrl Ho fo fr Arha 24f f'ute: t
SF 2e pré 94 Conhosr' A? dec 2 aputr els %:
ctogrud HN Poulpatite) rl Y ricite gg» pue
Ponutn faut) duuf/r. YÆOHSOUATS y |

So, Geneanet's images for comparison (one can hardly call them a tool), along with your own brain power, are certainly better than that.

While Geneanet's new aid for palaeography is only mildly interesting, the ever increasing number of documents uploaded onto the Projets-Registres section is very interesting, indeed. So much has been added by volunteers, and from such diverse archives, that it is now worth adding this section to the checklist of places to search when beginning a project.

Do have a look.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

 

 


Labour of Love - Listing Isolated Soldiers' Graves

U - WWI Brothers

The standard place to look to find the grave of an ancestor who died fighting for France is the War Graves page, Sépultures de Guerres, on the Mémoire des Hommes website run by the Ministry for Defense. For the names of many who died in World War I, but not their burial places, one can resort to the listing of names from Monuments aux Morts on Mémorial GenWeb. What, however, to do if your ancestor died for France but not in a great battle and was not buried in a military cemetery? Thousands of such men and women are buried in town cemeteries all over France and the Ministry for Defense has not listed them.

A gentleman named Jacques Seynaeve is attempting to redress that failing with his own website of a most long-winded name: SÉPULTURES COMMUNALES INDIVIDUELLES DE MILITAIRES DE TOUTES ÉPOQUES ET DE MORTS POUR LA FRANCE (hors nécropoles nationales, cimetières et carrés militaires). He now has over eight thousand names and photographs of graves. Hundreds have been contributed by people from all over France (and a few other countries) and continue to be added.

Usefully, he also has a section of "Noms Associés" that is, names of spouses and relatives of a deceased person, which may help in location and identification. Would that Mémoire des Hommes would do something like that! You may be able to find your ancestor's grave via this website and we do hope so but hurry; these pages personnelles on Orange tend to disappear without warning and without a trace.

Bonne chance!

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Interviews With the Last of the Paris Communards on RetroNews

Communards

 

Mostly, as French genealogy researchers, we tend to revile the Communards for having burnt the Paris town hall and destroyed hundreds of years' worth of parish and civil registrations. We tend to forget that they were the desperate poor. We tend to forget that they had endured a siege so long, so horrific and in such cold that Parisians were eating dogs, cats and rats, when they could find any still alive. We tend to forget that France had just been invaded and lost the Franco-Prussian War and was saddled with a very heavy bill to be paid to the victor.

The Communards saw themselves as freedom fighters driven by desperation, hunger and poverty to create a new order by smashing the old. Whether we agree with their ideals or not, we cannot help but sympathize with their sufferings and this may help us to understand. (Who among us has not lost judgement when forced to desperation by whatever unendurable suffering life has thrown at us?)

These memories recounted to the press by some of the last survivors of the Paris Commune are fascinating. If your ancestor were among them, it may open your eyes to more of their world.