As a kid, I was always sticking my nose into closets, looking for old photographs. I couldn't help myself but thinking of who they were, what was their life like ? Like my grand-father, whom I didn't know. He's been killed in WWII, 1940, June 12th. My father couldn't tell me much about him, as he was six when his father died. Of course, he had memories of his father, he didn't know anything about his story but one thing. His father had been abandoned by his own father when he was six. His mother asked to have him back. Civil services refused her to have his son back, as she was too poor. She died few years later.
My grand-father used to say only one thing about this day, that he was wearing a blue flannel belt, and he refused to take him back while he was taken to shower.
Many years later, in 1994, we discovered at my grandma's house, the livret de famille1 of my grand-father's parents. Of he was abandoned when he was six, how could he have this document?
This question, and the researches I did, trying to answer it, was the beginning of a never ending adventure, named genealogy.
One year later, I had the answer, wrote my grandfather's biography, and many more ancestors in my family tree!
On my mother's side, I have ancestors who never left Brittany. You would think it made it easier, but no. Trust me! When they all are named Pierre, their wife Marie, it can be a long and tedious work to know who's who.
On my father's side, well, they are coming from a lot of places, and used to divorce, a lot.
To keep on track with my researches, I developed my own organisation techniques. Until 2010, I used to work as Planning / Scheduling / Supply Manager, so organizing things is like a second nature to me. I started to share my ideas on my blog. Two years later, in 2012, I started my own genealogical business. I conduct genealogical research on commission, sometimes for Anglo-Saxon clients, give lectures, teach beginners, schoolchildren, and publishes in magazines.
In France, we are lucky to have incredible archival fonds. Of course, one Commune and two world war later, some archives are m.i.a., but we still have so many documents to look for, and for free. Having so many documents is a chance, but can be a problem for beginners as they feel lost among this wealth. Where to search? How to read those documents?
That's why when I've been asked to write a column for In Depth Genealogist, I said yes ! I would like to help you find your French ancestors, discover who they were, how they lived, through, sometimes surprising, various documents.
I'm looking forward to getting feedback. If there are specific topics you would like to see covered, let me know!
It contains the marriage certificate of the couple and the birth certificates of their children, as well as a certificate of divorce if one exists. ↩