Radio and Television

Wallis-et-Futuna, a DOM-TOM Research Example

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These tiny islands turn out to be quite dynamic when it comes to helping people with their genealogical research. There is a quite determined effort to protect and to preserve the history of the country's families and to help people to know more about their families. 

In 2018, France TV reported that two women from the cultural service (under which come the archives) of Futuna set out to gather oral and genealogical histories from every family on the island. They discovered that most people interviewed did not know generations further back than their own grandparents. Using this primary information, one of the researchers began tracing each family through the baptismal records of the Catholic mission, which began in 1842. This is a good fifty years earlier than the civil registrations that can be viewed on the website of the Archives nationales d'outre-mer (ANOM), the starting point for any DOM-TOM research.

The following year, after all the research was digitized, the results of the genealogical research began to be promoted and the research extended to requesting living people to send in copies of their own and their family's documentation in order to complete the goal of researching and documenting the genealogy of every family of Futuna. The cultural and archives service's own website has an excellent graphic explaining the procedure by which one may request aid from and contribute to the genealogy service:


Wallis and Futuna genealogy service

There is a form to download (télécharger) and complete for joining the project. It asks for genealogical information, such as it may be known, and the reason for the request.


There is also a list of documentation to provide that can be downloaded. Documents required are the livret de famille and copies of as many civil registrations as possible. 


Note that this is somewhat different from researching one's more distant ancestors. French law protects the privacy of individuals much more so than in many other countries. If requesting information about people still alive or about whom the documentation is less than seventy-five years old, one will have to prove the familial relationship. Additionally, the documents provided with the request will become part of the collection on Futuna families. According to the fine graphic of steps in the procedure, the service will then verify the documentation, perhaps ask for more, and then be in contact.

A very fine project, we opine.

©2020 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


A Very Witty Gamers' "As You Like It"

As You Like It Made At Home

Lockdown and confinement may be lifting for some, but not yet for the creative industries. Theatres are not opening, concerts are not happening and films are not filming, leaving actors, musicians and many, many others out of work and, in most countries, left off the lists of categories of workers receiving support. Here, in France, some of the most famous have written an open letter to the Prime Minister pointing out that the economic aid packages have completely ignored the arts and demanding that this fault be corrected. A similar letter was sent by British actors, artists and musicians to their government. One of them said: “Artists are creating so much content online that people can experience in their homes. They have not stopped producing and it would be a crime as a society to not support them through this crisis as they are nourishing us.” Yet, though the aid to creative people still has not materialized, they continue to create, and we want to share with you one of the very best of online entertainment creations during this pandemic, and one close to our heart.

Rachel Waring has directed a truly delightful production of "As You Like It" during and including the reality of lockdown. All of the actors perform from their places of isolation around the world, yet they achieve an incredible sense of ensemble theatre. Waring has placed the play in the world of online gaming; it is something of which we know nothing at all, yet was easy for a non-gamer to understand and to appreciate, even to the humour. More, by having the characters live and communicate via games, the life online that we all have been living during lockdown is brought into the play. The level of acting is superb (naturally, we are partial to Sid Phoenix as Orlando) and we hope that you will watch it and get as many others as you can to do so as well.

 "As You Like It" (YouTube link) - the play begins at about four hours, so move the curser up the timeline to this point:

As You Like It - Sid Phoenix copy

Should you wish to support their work with a Patreon donation, you may do so here.

Many thanks, Dear Readers, and enjoy!


Listen to a Radio Programme About Genealogy in Poitou

Poitou ladies

As many of our Dear Readers have ancestors who hailed from Poitou, we think you may enjoy listening to this radio programme on France Bleu about  genealogy there. 

Read our older posts about Poitou:


©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy



Add a Swiss Radio Appearance to Your Travel Plans

Travel to France

For those of you planning a voyage across the Atlantic to discover the ancestral homeland, the following from Judith Chetrit may be of interest:

I'm a French radio journalist based in Paris. I'm currently producing a radio documentary for Swiss public radio show "Détours" (the radio is called RTS) on genealogy tourism, Québécois coming to France to further their research on their ancestors.

I'm looking for people/families visiting France (Normandy and Poitou are the most common regions) in the upcoming weeks/months.

We suggest contacting Ms. Chetrit even if you are not from Quebec, as your story could be interesting to he. She may be reached at: judith (dot) chetrit ( at) gmail (dot) com.

This could be a good way to advertise your search and to discover some cousins!

©2015 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy




Origines - Review

 UPDATE: Origines ran for two seasons but was not renewed for a third. The marketers at the television channel, France 3, thought that numbers of viewers over two and a half million per episode were not high enough to warrant continuing with the show.

Origines 2

The world of French genealogy has been in a tizzy about the second season of the France 3 genealogy detective television series, Origines.  So much so that the second episode was given a special viewing at this year's  genealogy fair at the Archives nationales in Paris. 

We have now watched two episodes of Origines and feel a readiness to report on it. This readiness is tempered by a rather dreary hesitancy. We are reminded of a story told about Katharine Hepburn. It relates that she had been sent a script by a very successful director, who wanted her to play the lead. She read it. She sat at her desk and began to write her response. She made many beginnings, along the lines of :

"Dear John, Thank you very much for sending this interesting script....."

"My friend, I have always admired your work, but this......"

"How the blazes could you send me this tripe?!"


"If only...."


And so on. After each failure, she tore up the page and began anew. Finally, unable to manage any response that was both polite and expressed her true opinion, she gathered all of the torn pages, jammed them into an envelope and sent them to the director.

To spare you our false beginnings: Origines has worn and oft-recycled plots, leaden dialogue, execrable background music, and precious little genealogy. However, it does contain some small elements of interest. The interior shots are curious, most of the actors are attractive, people eat almost as many pastries as do the title characters in the film Cousin, Cousine, the street shots of Angoulême are rather pretty, there are presentations of nuggets of French history, such as the cynical chicanery of the government's Bumidom (le Bureau pour le développement des Migrations intéressant les Départements d'Outre-mer) through which it lied to people to trick them to come to France as cheap labour.

We would have liked to have been able to suggest this series were it to have offered the opportunity to observe some genealogical research that could have been of use. The only skills that could remotely be considered genealogical that we have noted so far have been:

  • Rifling through a dead person's private papers without a relative's permission
  • Checking a dead woman's DNA against that of her living father without his permission
  • Accessing the immigration file held by a Ministry on a living person without her knowledge 
  • Searching on the Internet
  • Checking names and faces on a facebook group page

The first three may be possible for the police, but not for you, Dear Readers. The last two are not worthy of comment. Sad to say, we cannot recommend Origines.

Click on these links to the blog, CHRONIQUES D'ANTAN ET D'AILLEURS, for a much longer discussion of the first and second episodes. 


©2014 Anne Morddel

French genealogy


Genealogy Detectives on French Television


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The television station, France 3, will be offering a new show from the twentieth of September that is sure to become a secret pleasure for all French genealogists. Origines is a crime drama in which a snooty, cold, privileged and young police detective (played by Julien Baumgartner) regularly relies on the help of a brilliant expert in genealogy, languages and paleography (played by Micky Sébastian) who is twenty years older.

The publicity blurb is, perhaps, less than enlightening but certainly entertaining:

What is there that connects the first steps of Armstrong on the moon and a crime of passion? The death of a homeless person and the French Indochina War? Three parakeets and [an organization to encourage immigration that was nicknamed] Bumidom?  These are the kinds of puzzles to be solved by the people in Origines, a new series that combines a novel-like quality with fantasy and emotion....Criminal investigations involve a scrutiny of peoples' lives and a unconventional genealogist who is passionate about history and an obsessive young policeman. Crimes reveal the truths about families and their pasts.

We have paraphrased.

The website about the show has many videos (and there is at least one video to see on YouTube) which we hope you may be able to view from your countries.  We would recommend it for it will be a fun lesson in a few research skills in French genealogy. (Well, we assume they would get it right.)

Clearly, genealogy in France is as popular as it is elsewhere!

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Psychogénéalogie and French Family Photos


Young Family Group


The popularity of genealogy in France continues to grow and, along with it, the rather new field of transgenerational psychotherapy or psychogénéalogie. A fairly well-known name among the practitioners is that of Christine Ulivucci, who has recently published a book entitled "Ces Photos Qui Nous Parlent : une Relecture de la Mémoire Familiale" ("Photos That Speak to Us : a Rereading of Family Memory" - click on the cover image in the column to the right to buy). She describes the book in an interview:



During the interview, a short film is shown of an example. Aurélie, aged thirty-seven, wanted to know if there may not have been some transgenerational reason as to why she had not yet found matrimonial bliss. A study of a few family photos revealed bad marriages on both the paternal and maternal side. No further along the road to marriage, Aurélie at least had found an explanation as to why.

Dear Readers, beware of adding this type of analysis of minimal amounts of data to your family histories! Were this sort of conclusion to be subjected to the Genealogical Proof Standard, it would fall far short of the rigorous research and standards required. Photography long ago was expensive and used only for the most formal occasions. Later, only the rich could afford to take snapshots at every family event. Now, of course, everyone's computer and phone is flooded with digital images. Analyzing a family using hundreds of photos today might be possible, but we question very severely the validity of conclusions based on five or six formal, posed photos from a hundred years ago.

Had Aurélie wished to use that conclusion as a part of her family's genealogy, she would have  had to confirm the assumption of those bad marriages with further documentation. Barring the convenient discovery of a photo showing one spouse in the process of strangling the other, she would have had to find some sort of documentation, such as:

  • a string of births of children mothered or fathered by someone outside the marriage
  • a will detailing with vitriol why the spouse would inherit the minimum allowed by law
  • documented proof of crimes by one spouse against the other
  • etc.

We jest in part but the point is no joke: in genealogy, assumptions based on limited and/or vague sources are unacceptable. This is not only because it would be sloppy work but because the bad results would be interminable: one weak assumption would lead to another and another, unendingly. We all know how easily it happens: a guess that a marriage was bad becomes and assumption, the a certainty. It then is perpetuated in print and on the Internet and further conclusions about people, based on that "certainly bad" marriage appear, until there is an entire family history that is pure fiction.

We wish Aurélie no harm, nor do we wish to disparage Madame Ulivucci's work, which surely has its value when used correctly, but we do wish to warn against the invention of a life's "truths" based on limited sources.

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


How the French See Their Ex-Colonies in North America


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Just now, on France 3, the show Le Grand Tour, presented by Patrick de Carolis, is airing an episode entitled "When America Was French" (Quand l'Amérique était française), with visits from Quebec to Louisiana. For those of you with French ancestors, it is an interesting opportunity to discover how your distant cousins see you and your history. 

There are discussions of Cartier, Champlain, whaling, the Iroquois, les Filles du Roy, genealogical research, the sale of Louisiana, jazz, fishing, etc. The way French is spoken in Quebec is explained; the way it is spoken in Louisiana requires subtitles. The music, very cloying, is most intrusive. The entire episode may be seen for a fee here. Short extracts may be seen here (some of you report that this does work in North America). One by one, sections of it may be seen on YouTube here.

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Read the comments to this post by clicking here.

Psychogénéalogie at Genco 2012

Psychogénéalogie (transgenerational psychotherapy in English) is fairly new as a field of study and work. It was founded in France by Anne Ancelin Schützenberger, a psychotherapist with a background in psychodrama and group therapy, in the 1970s. Essentially, the theory is that a trauma that occurred in a family long ago could be felt still in the descendants, causing them suffering even when they may not know of the trauma. Suffering that is untreated passes from one generation to the next. This is described at length in her book, The Ancestor Syndrome.
At the Genco 2012 forum, psycho-généalogiste Liliane Vaschalde had a stand with leaflets. She explained her process, which is not dissimilar to that of other practitioners. It entails researching one's genealogy back, ideally, five generations and, crucially, filling in as much history and cultural understanding as possible. A génosociogramme, or genogram, is constructed, providing the framework for the therapy sessions. These sessions cover family secrets and inexplicable coincidences, such as people dying on the anniversary of an ancestor's death, or the passing of psychological traits -- such as rage -- down through the generations.
We have neither undergone such treatment nor studied it in any depth, and so we cannot in any way vouch for it; but we can affirm that, for some, the need to understand often leads to genealogy. We have been asked on occasion to research a lineage purely because someone hoped to find an explanation for a parent's or grandparent's behaviour. In one case, we were able to locate a case file from the late nineteenth century which went a long way toward such an explanation. It would have made a psycho-généalogiste beam exultantly.
The following videos are from a France 2 presentation on psychogénéalogie, from

La psychogénéalogie 1 par apocalyptique00.



La psychogénéalogie 2 par apocalyptique00 .

La psychogénéalogie 3 par apocalyptique00


©2012 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

The Continuing Debate On Privatisation of the Archives



We have written a fair amount on this before. Now, France Culture has interviewed genealogists at the Bibliothèque nationale de France on the subject. The first half of the podcast linked below is an interview with Pierre-Valèry Archassal, professor of paleography and a member of the International Academy for Genealogy. The second half moves on to a different story: new developments in philosophy.


"Questions d'époque" Podcast 2 December, 2010