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:
- Ancestry France (back in the game after a long snooze)
- Bigenet (which is scheduled to shut down next month)
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"
That takes you to a page with another drop down menu that lists all of the Genealogy Societies whose indices they present.
On Filae, scroll to the bottom of the page to "Ressources Généalogiques":
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:
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)
This brings a small but not insignificant list of associations lending their work to Ancestry:
On Bigenet, you have both a map and a list showing the departments covered:
To know what associations' indices they have, click on "associations généalogiques" at the top of the page:
This takes you to a complete list of all the associations having indices on Bigenet:
Lastly, on Geneabank, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "la page des associations":
This takes you to their complete list of associations:
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