Web/Tech

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


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

 

 

 


Bye-Bye Bigenet

No more BIgenet

Sad to report, Dear Readers, that the drab but very useful website, Bigenet, is no more. Recall that this was a website with indexing to some seventy million parish and civil registrations done by enthusiastic volunteers of nearly sixty genealogy groups across France. In November, its death throes amidst squabbles were reported by Guillaume de Morant in a way that annoyed the president of the Fédération Française de Généalogie,  who denied any squabble, implying that their meetings over what to do to save Bigenet were civil discussions. In short, the site made no money and the FFG decided not to put money into it, and that is that.

The economic struggles of genealogy associations in the face of the rapid expansion of the commercial genealogy companies, such as Filae and Geneanet were described here a couple of years ago. It is one of the many ways that the Internet is changing the economy, it seems. One can only hope that the various genealogy associations that were selling access to their work can do a good deal with Filae or Geneanet, or even Ancestry, so that they will receive enough money for their associations to survive. The real loss would be if they were to disappear.

©2019 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


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!


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


Researching Ancestors From Côtes-d'Armor?

CG22

Well, Dear Readers, following on from our last post, Les Bleus, as the French national football team is known, have won the World Cup. The final match was rather thrilling and, as one would expect, the country was delirious. Parades on the Champs Elysées, Legion of Honour medals for the team and, in front of every home, the French flag proudly flying in a fashion that one normally sees only in America. Great fun. We have always appreciated the way that a nation's participation in the World Cup can, if for a few days only, unite a country in a non-combative form of pride and competition. During our childhood in California, we saw how the World Series or the Super Bowl could unite citizens of a town in shared enthusiasm, but the entire nation? For a sport? No, we never saw that.

Pulling a nation together is hard, to be sure. Currently, there is much discussion of an American broadcast personality and his comments on the racial identity of many members of the French team, which brought him a letter from the French ambassador to the United States. We watched the video of him reading it aloud and disputing it and we groaned at the layers of misunderstanding on both sides. To our mind, the misunderstanding hinges on how the two societies think about equality and how they try to ensure it for their citizens. In America, individuals celebrate their racial, ethnic and religious identities above their Americanness. In France, equality is ensured through every citizen's Frenchness. Differences and individuality are celebrated (and the team's racial and religious diversity was much vaunted in the French press, by the way) but one is always French first. Thus, in France, to say, as the personality proposed, that someone could be both "French and African", would be to dilute his or her equality.

Like America, France has a past of glory mixed with shame, including a horrific civil war. The War in the Vendée was fought in 1793 and, as with all civil wars, it was vicious and at times barbaric. Thousands were killed and generations remained bitter. Less known was the Chouannerie, a guerrilla war that lasted from 1792 to 1800, in the west of France. (In both, les bleus referred to the Republican Army and les blancs to the Royalists. Thus, calling the French football team les bleus carries a greater connotation and more historical context than merely the colour of their uniform; they represent the Republic.) The department of the Côtes-d'Armor was in the thick of it and, with defeat, suffered greatly and for long afterward. For those of you with ancestors from Côtes-d'Armor, know that issues of inclusion and euqlity have been thorny subjects for a couple of hundred years or more.

Yet, researching their genealogical lineage is easier, thanks to the excellent website of the Cercle Généalogique des Côtes d'Armor. It has taken the French genealogy associations a while to let go of Minitel and its software, to find new software that would accommodate all of their data, and to create new websites to present it on the Internet. They are achieving their goals and the resulting websites are quite helpful. One of the best, to our mind, is that for the Côtes-d'Armor, particularly as it links to the website of the Departmental Archives and serves as a quick index to images there. It goes well beyond just the search for birth, marriage and death records. It also has:

  • Links to archival lists of notaires, with their locations and dates
  • Links to collaborative indexing pages for the parish and civil registrations
  • Links to an in-progress index of names in wills
  • A list of property place names known as lieu-dits
  • A growing list of property owners, linked to a map
  • Family trees that can be searched for connections to your own line
  • Transcriptions of such hard to find information as marriages in Pondichéry, sailors from a certain town who died at sea, natives of the department who died in a hospice in Nantes
  • Links to a number of pages about military service and World War One
  • A wonderfully searchable extract of the entire 1906 census

 A more generous organisation than many of its kind, this has many pages that may be used by anyone, member or not, while others do require membership. If your answers be there, join, for Heaven's sake!  Plenty to work on, here and, as the next World Cup is not until 2022, plenty of time to research.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Tahitian Soldiers in World War I

Poilus tahitiens

We do love some of the labours of love on the part of amateur historians and genealogists that achieve a level of true expertise, as with our case in point today. Occasionally, someone writes a comment on a FGB post of such interest and erudition that we ask them to tell us more. A couple of weeks ago, we had such a comment from a gentleman, pointing us to his remarkable work.

Thus, we present the website of Jean-Christophe Shigetomi, dedicated to the Tahitian soldiers of World War I, Les Poilus tahitiens. By 1916, we learned, when the First World War had been going for two years, so many Frenchmen had died that army recruitment extended to the colonies of Tahiti, New Hebrides and New Caledonia. These recruits and others formed the racially segregated Bataillon mixte du Pacifique. While a fair number of websites can be found about the battalion, only that of Monsieur Shigetomi is exclusively about the Tahitians. 

Monsieur Shigetomi retired after a career in civil aviation and has since indulged his passion for the history of Tahitians in the wars of the twentieth century. For the poilus, what he has done is to take the military service records of each man and put their photographs and details on the website. Using the information from the files, he has also written histories of the Tahitian action, primarily the Battle of Vesles-et-Caumont, and individual's activities during the war, giving a very personalized account of events. Much of this is presented on the website and a kindle edition of his entire book may be found here

For genealogical researchers, use the drop-down menu on the site entitled Unités, meaning "units". Under each unit is the category fiches signalétiques, meaning identification cards or data cards, which leads to a list of names. Click on a name to see the man's full name, photograph, details of birth and death, along with notes as to his service. Once you are certain of the spelling of the name, you can find all mentions of the man via the Recherche, or search, option. As Monsieur Shigetomi points out, this website may be the only way that researchers will have access to this data and, especially, to a photograph of the soldier.

This may be an excellent resource for those researching Tahitian ancestry or World War One.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


Researchers of Families From Ardèche Take Note

A for Ardèche

There are so many unsung, rarely noticed and even more rarely praised yet stellar contributors to genealogical research. Sandrine Jumas is one of them. Many have uploaded onto the Internet and indexed extracts of the documents that they have found in their research but few have done so in such a clear fashion as Mme. Jumas has done on her site Relevés Ardéchois

It is small but a treasure and something that one finds increasingly. Some French family historians who have been working for years on their family genealogies then take all of the original documentation that they have found (in this case parish and civil registrations, along with some notarial records) and present that in a way that is helpful to others. We find this to be astonishingly generous and believe that all like Mme. Jumas deserve thanks.

Relevés Ardéchois is strongest on marriage registrations, (which can be sorted by the groom's name or the bride's name or the date) but includes also birth or baptism and death or burial registrations (many of which link directly to the image on the website of the Departmental Archives of Ardèche). The towns concerned are: 

  • Châmes
  • Gras
  • Labastide de Virac
  • Lagorce
  • Salavas
  • St. Maurice d'Ibie
  • Vallon

The families on which she has been working are:

  • Ollier
  • Peschaire
  • Sabatier

She also presents two massive lists of notarial records she has indexed. The first is of marriage contracts and the second of other notarial records. Both give a significant amount of information, allowing a researcher to know exactly which document to request to be copied by the archives.

If you are lucky enough to be researching ancestors from one of the towns listed above, do have a look at this website. If your research takes you elsewhere, look hard for you may find something similar by an equally generous soul who has been working on your area of interest. Look also on the arbres généalogiques on Geneanet.org where, increasingly, volunteers are entering data, taken from parish and civil registrations, for entire towns, showing the family relationships and giving the source documents. 

Add this type of website and "town tree" to your arsenal for research.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy