When people begin their genealogical research, the aim is usually to ‘go back in time’ rapidly, to find the name of a great grandfather, the date he was married, where he died: in a word, to fill in the names and dates on the family tree. There is another way of finding out about your ancestry that consists of ‘fleshing out’ the tree, this means completing it with the help of other archives such as parish registers and public records.
Thanks to my training and knowledge of the archives, I can rapidly find the old documents likely to help in completing your family tree.
Here are a few examples:
• Military Records:
The conscription started in 1798 has left very complete registration lists in the archives. The regimental number card means you can discover the civil status of your grandfather, his various abodes, level of instruction, physical appearance and military career. This document is essential when carrying out research at the ‘Service des Armées’ (Vincennes). In the archives, I can also find the requests for deferment or discharge and exemption sought by conscripts who were supporting families, the pension files for War Veterans, decorations, etc.
• Notarial Archives:
Our ancestors went to notaries and solicitors much more frequently than we do today: for marriage contracts, leases, the purchase and sale of land, etc. Notarial archives are generally well conserved. The task of the ‘Tabellions’ (the forerunners of public notaries in France), in existence in major towns from 1696, was to record the minutes of all the notaries drawing up leases and to write up engrossments. In the Nord Department, for example, the ‘Tabellion’ of the towns and ‘châtellenies’ in Lille, very well conserved since the XVIth century (equipped with an alphabetical index) is very important for people with ancestors originating in Lille and the surrounding area. The ‘Tabellions’ in Douai, Bouchain, Cambrai and Du Quesnoy also have very complete archives.
The inheritance declaration is an important document as it enables you to find out about the recognized children of a deceased person, his wife or wives, estate (whether considerable or otherwise), civil status and other details likely to yield information on his family.
Themarriage contract, common practice for our ancestors even if they had very few possessions, is a mine of information. It gives the full name of both parents, the property brought to the marriage with a description of the trousseau, the furniture and buildings, giving a good indication of the social position. As the witnesses are often brothers, brothers-in-law or cousins, it also provides other knowledge of the family.
Censuses mean you can discover the composition of a family, the places of birth and how each person is related, as well as the name of the employer in some censuses.
• Legal archives:
If your ancestors took a matter to court, it is possible to find the court decisions: guardianship, legal recognition, emancipation, change of name, recognition of paternity, desertion, civil sentencing and divorce are all court decisions that, among others, can be found (within the limits of the periods of communication)
Consulting newspapers from the period means you can recollect a fact, put yourself in the context of the time and sometimes obtain details about an event.
To satisfy your curiosity or to help you in your research, I am willing to put my skill and expertise regarding genealogical and historical research at your disposal. If you are expecting quality work, you can ask for my services.