Until recently, my first encounter with French ancestors was in the 1600’s. Unfortunately, most of them were born at or near ‘the edge of paper records’ meaning that there aren’t records that support their existence beyond their names on their children’s birth records.
With the new ancestral discovery, my French ties have moved closer to us in time to the late 1700’s.
Wow! Now I can search for French ancestors with a fairly good possibility that their records exist.
Does that mean I have to learn to read French? Yes, it does, but as we all know, that doesn’t mean that I have to learn to read a new language in its entirety — at least initially..
My first stop in finding French to English word charts that focus on dates, parents, children and siblings name equivalents was on the Research Wiki on FamilySearch.
I entered “France” in the search frame and was immediately presented with 1705 research help articles including the conversion charts I needed. Of course, the results page also listed the names, links and content summaries of hundreds of related resources.
FamilySearch Wiki has long been my friend. After the relationship developed in my current French quest, I think we are engaged now. My wife isn’t jealous. There are no French postcards on the site, but there are a LOT of links and research documents that have had me spending a lot of time with it.
As a result of knowledge gained on the Wiki, I now spend most evenings and a inordinately large portion of the dark hours of the day reading baptismal, marriage and death records on French web sites.
In this case, my research results have been phenomenally successful thanks to church records created near or before the time of the French Revolution. The folks who recorded the original entries wrote very legibly and incredibly, they even created indexes!
I wish I could shake their hands and tell them how much I appreciate their efforts.
In this French research adventure, my newly discovered ancestors lived in or near Verdun, Meuse, France.
Many of the records I’m transcribing are found on this Meuse Archives site.
Others have been found on the Val d’Oise Archives site.
After weeks of methodically working through the records on these sites and capturing images of the records that show ancestral events for source documentation, an audible “BONG” sounded in my mind concurrent to the light that came on in my obviously miniscule thought process.
“What About Looking on FamilySearch for these records?”
Yeah, you know the answer to my patently dumb flub. Of course FamilySearch has many of the records I needed in the Collections that have been transcribed by volunteers like you and I.
I was so excited about finding my new ancestral line (and it was a spectacular find), and focused on the need to learn French and reading French Records, my other cognitive abilities apparently switched off.
I’ve seen the same thing happen on Christmas mornings when our children or grandchildren have opened a present that so enthralled them, they totally forgot or ignored their other presents under the tree.
Hopefully, my ability to similarly set the rest of the world aside like they do is a witness to the fact that my brain hasn’t become completely calcified. Or in other words, I’m not as old as my 4-year-old granddaughter observed this week.
Moral of the story,: Never, never forget to look for your ancestors on FamilySearch. Its record collections are ever expanding with frequent seven to nine digit increment jumps — Unless of course, your brain is calcified or you too are ‘intellectually or cognitively challenged’.Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2011-09-17 14:11:00
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