Saturday, August 5, 2017

Genealogy Rewards Often Aren't Huge

No, I haven't found the parents of my great-grandmother, Kunigunda Boser Stenglein. And I haven't learned what happened to my Rüttger branch after they came to America in 1846. (Yet!) But I recently received two great emails from readers, so I feel like I hit the lottery last month. An email isn't a huge deal, but sometimes genealogy rewards come in small packages.

Mitchell asked for guidance on searching for a 1882 birth record from Marseille, France. He had the exact birth date and wanted to know the most direct way to locate the record. French records have been scanned and are available online for free, but they aren't searchable and there's no central website. There's a separate archive for each "department" in France.

If Mitchell's question had referenced a smaller village/commune, he could have gone directly to the civil registrations for 1882 and browsed. In my experience, though, dates can be off by a year or two and, more importantly, the location can be wrong. An ancestor may have said his birth was in Marseille when it actually took place on the outskirts of the city. That's why I suggest first browsing the Tables Decennales, basically ten-year indexes, to confirm that the date and location are accurate. Otherwise you may be paging through hundreds of scanned handwritten records and never find the one you need.

I also heard from a previously unknown fifth cousin of my husband. I wrote about his grandmother in "Cousin Zerelda of Indiana," and he emailed to say he didn't know her photo had appeared in Ladies Home Journal until reading my blog post. The great thing is that he found and bought that 1904 issue on eBay, which is a piece of family memorabilia that belongs with him.

Genealogy is a solitary activity most of the time, so it's great to get the chance to interact with others. Keep those emails and comments coming!

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Do you have a genealogy problem or need guidance on where to search next? Send me a message if you'd like me to help!