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The FGB
Paris
I am a librarian and professional genealogist from California living in France.
Recent Activity
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Two or three of you, Dear Readers, have written to ask about a piece of paper of your ancestor's in your possession, the Medal of Honour for Agriculture -- Médaille d'Honneur Agricole -- and wish to know more about it.... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The French Genealogy Blog
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We have never encountered this type of folder but then, we were probably too busy looking elsewhere for other things.The good and tidy clerks of the Brive-la-Gaillard Town Hall seem to have saved everything that came in the post, and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
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This month, we celebrate five years of writing The French Genealogy Blog and of having encountered via the electronic postal system so many wonderful Dear Readers. As a token of our gratitude, we offer a gift for you to download:... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
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Further to our last on the Municipal Archives of Brive-la-Gaillarde, we report today on another treasure found therein: le certificat de bonne vie et moeurs, a certificate confirming that a person is of good morals and behaviour. This is, essentially,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
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We have been on a little jaunt to Brive-la-Gaillarde, in the south west. We were keen to visit the Archives municipales which, though they have an excellent website (parish and civil registrations, post cards, etc.), have some rather interesting documents... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
We are pleased to read of cuckoos in Britain. It was a Guardian weekly article read some years back that lead us astray.
Toggle Commented Mar 26, 2014 on Germinal at The French Genealogy Blog
From Monsieur R. via e-mail: "Dear Anne - May I respectfully correct a misconception about we Brits and what we have in our beautiful country! I can assure you that we can, and do frequently hear the calls of the cuckoo here in the Chiltern Hills, some 50 Km. from the source of that other group of cuckoos that reside in the Houses of Parliament. Seriously, we do still have many cuckoos. It is a tiny bit early for them just now, but we did hear the calls of the owls last night, and we have a rapidly growing number of the magnificent Red Kites."
Toggle Commented Mar 26, 2014 on Germinal at The French Genealogy Blog
Stéphane, Thank you for the dictionary link! Annick, How is Jacquou coming along?
Toggle Commented Mar 26, 2014 on Germinal at The French Genealogy Blog
From Madame A. via e-mail: "Bonjour Anne, The year XIV (fourteen) is the last year of the French Republican Calendar. Although one often reads that the calendar ends in December 1805, the year XIV covers part of 1806. The month Nivose of the year XIV is January of 1806. There are many different types of documents from 1806 with the date written according to the French Republican Calendar, including letters written by Napoleon I."
Toggle Commented Mar 26, 2014 on Germinal at The French Genealogy Blog
From Monsieur D. by e-mail: "I find my opinion differs from yours with respect to one rather large point: the nature of history. On a scale much larger than genealogy it is pretty much factual: by all appearances there actually was a Roman Empire and a First World War. As the scale diminishes, however, history gradually becomes little more than gossip. This is not to say it's therefore inaccurate. Some wiser man than I once remarked that one thing that's never wrong is village opinion, and having lived in a village for a while I find I must agree. However that opinion derives from gossip filtered by already received opinions of those who deliver it, and thus becomes history. "The process is no different in academic circles, where I've also spent more time than wisdom would have merited. The value of one's opinions, published or otherwise, reflects precisely the opinions other members of that egotistical cockfight have contrived about your value. Your remark about the "much respected" editors of an editorial goes a little way towards enforcing my point. That history is not fact is amply demonstrated by the constant revision it never ceases to undergo. πr2 seems as close to an actual, unchangeable fact as we're ever going to get, aside from G_d, whom we invent exactly for the purpose of having something that doesn't change. Unpredictability is scary. "Finally, five more words of anonymous wisdom: History Belongs to the Victors."
From Monsieur DuB. , by e-mail: "...You wrote rather unequivocally that history consists of facts. I think this puts the case somewhat too narrowly. It seems to me that history, like science, makes generous use of hypothesis in its search for facts. This is central to my approach to genealogy, or whatever pale imitation it is that I do. I am continually testing and revising my online trees, trying to be sure that I am not perpetuating misinformation. I read others' postings, even census tracts, with a skeptical eye. However, I do post what I think is true, at least partly in hopes that this marketplace of information will be, at least to some extent, self-correcting. I am also mindful of being potentially part of the problem rather than part of the solution...... "Based on some compelling circumstantial evidence, I have identified an expatriate French royalist in the U.S. between 1793 and 1814 as a putative father and have picked up the documentary record of his life in France before and after his American hiatus. I have, in the spirit of hypothesis, added him to my tree as a potential ancestor. I may be wrong, but I believe this is a valid use of the Internet as a research tool. I am still searching for birth, marriage or other records. "The lawyer in me thinks that the circumstantial evidence is sufficient to make a prima facie case of parentage sufficient to support a jury verdict in my favor. Ultimately, history will be the jury. In the meantime, I continue to build my case. Others may judge what they like. I am comfortable that no one will go to the guillotine on the strength of my evidence."
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The French Republican Calendar was in effect from September, 1793, beginning with year two, to the end of December, 1805. We have written about it before and that post is given in Our Book. We explained the twelve months of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
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Many apologies for the lateness of this post. We were out gardening a few days ago and fell down a hole. The period of recuperation has brought us an interesting discovery: one of those websites created for love or obsession... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
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March being Women's History Month (in the United States) and yesterday having been International Women's Day (most countries), we have been reading others' blogs about researching female ancestors with, forgive us, a trace of smugness. The subject is nearly always... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
Jean-Michel, Indeed, you are correct that no civil registrations are written in dialects. However, if a family have no civil registrations but only postcards, letters, notes on the backs of photographs, etc. it is these that might have been written in the dialect. Finding out which dialect could lead to the place and finding the place could lead to the civil registrations. Anne
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For those of you who were upset by a recent television advertisement for a soft drink, which was played during a broadcast of an annual, rumbustious, sporting match and which depicted scenes of life in America while a beloved song... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
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The French have affectionate nicknames for their soldiers of various conflicts. Those who fought in the First World War are known as poilus, which means shaggy. Those who were veterans of Napoleon's Old Guard are known as grognards, or grumblers.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
James, You are not the only one to write about this and you are right. The point of the "Dream State" post is that, in order for a family tree to be shared, it has to have value to others and the only way it can have value is if it can be believed, hence the emphasis on fact. Verifiable and documented facts or events are preferred simply because it means that they can be checked by others and confirmed. Of course, it is true that facts are found in many sources and not solely in documents. Oral traditions, photographs, medals, paintings, DNA and so much more all can contain some truth about a person or family. On this blog have also been mentioned knitted or weaving patterns that are unique to a region or even village and can help to identify a family's origins. This multitude of different types of sources is why the Genealogical Proof Standard is so important. It trains us to gather all possible evidence from many sources, and then to examine it very thoroughly. Evaluating sources and analysing the evidence that they provide, and resolving cases of conflicting evidence, enables us -- ideally -- to reach a well-reasoned conclusion about a person or family. Oral traditions are very much among the sources to be considered in this process.
Oh, Annick, what a pity! Is it possible to view the short extracts from www.legrandtour.fr?
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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... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
Thomas, Thank you so much for this thoughtful reply to the post. The concept of personal privacy may be a bit older than you say, but in the history of humanity, the difference is negligible. The first American article on "The Right to Privacy" was published in the Harvard Law Review in 1890. The Mazzini affair in Britain in the 1840s sparked public outrage at the violation of privacy on the part of the postal service - thus people had enough of a sense of it then to be outraged. Long before that, it was enough of an issue that Congress felt the need to ensure postal confidentiality in 1780. So, shall we give the concept of a right to privacy an age of a couple of hundred years, at least? While our Puritan ancestors may be admired for their courage in the face of hardship, they were also, as you point out, meddlesome, as well as intolerant, slave-owning people who -- at their lowest ebb -- executed twenty innocent people as witches on the evidence of a group of hysterical children. Much as we revere them for their role in the history of our country, they cannot be used as role models for the twenty-first century. Truly, the issues of privacy and the right to personal data about living individuals merit more open and, dare we say, public discussion. Perhaps there should be clearer definitions and/or redefinitions. It is a problem being addressed by many. Here in Europe, Data Protection, the term used to apply to the protection of privacy where it is threatened because personal data is stored electronically, is being debated at the EU level. In France, personal privacy of living individuals is protected more vigorously than in the US, with birth, marriage and death records not available for public view for at least 75 years. Yet, here as well, government surveillance of the Internet is rampant, with the French government actually collecting and storing even more than the NSA admits to doing! It would seem that the eventual result, in Europe anyway, may turn out to be that the governments may do as they wish with personal data, but the world of commerce may not. In America, it may end up that all personal data is available to all, governments, commerce, and the general population. Is it a good thing or not? Should individuals have the right to correct mistakes in personal data made public? To remove such data? Genealogy is great fun, to be sure, but what to do in the case where one person puts on the Internet a family tree full of malicious gossip and factual error? Should the living people named in that tree have the right to have it corrected or removed? What of the person who makes an application to a lineage society, naming a spouse, children, siblings, parents, all of whom are living; when the society decides to sell copies of that application online, should those who are named have the right to have their personal data removed? Using your example, should hospital admission records be public when the patients are still alive? Or, if sixteen of my cousins put their DNA test results online, then by default, my DNA will also be largely revealed, but without my consent. Have I no right to request that those parts of the results that are revelatory about me be removed? (Is that even possible?!) We are at a time of a conflict of rights: the right of those who wish to do so to publicise their personal data clashing with the right to privacy of those who do not wish to have their personal lives known by all. Essentially, where do we draw the line of what is personal, e.g. are the details of my sister's life her personal data or part of mine? And, once having done so, where do we draw the lines of protection? The preferences of the big genealogy companies, whether Ancestry or NotreFamille or MyHeritage, should not take precedence over the legitimate needs of individuals for privacy. Nor should the excesses of governments be allowed to continue. We do need to reevaluate or we are at risk of creating a very unpleasant society, one fears.
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Goodness! The many, varied, and quite passionate replies and comments which we have received concerning the previous post are quite a surprise. To our mind, there seems to be some conflation, particularly as to identity and genealogy, hence, some definitions... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
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"Just consider this. Is not the dream state, whether the man is asleep or awake, just this -- the mistaking of resemblance for identity?" A.J. Jacobs is a glib and witty writer. We do not know the man but the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog
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Oh, Dear Readers, we have been away too long! We had forgotten what it is like to be in America and to witness the impressions that visitors have of it. Usually: "It's so BIG!" then: "People are so friendly (but... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2014 at The French Genealogy Blog