Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tackling OLD records.

As I was looking through my Favorite links to share with you I saw one many English speaker probably don't know about but which leads to an amazing site, that of Andre Comeliau's Genealogies au Pays de Herve.
It is not a fancy site by any means but does it ever contain amazing things!
I don't know how good you are at using notarial records, but those are the records you need to use once you have run out of parish records. They should probably be used in combination with these parish (church) records to help confirm what is guessed from them as they can be filled with names and not necessarily relationships.
They can be almost impossible to use if you already have a hard reading the newer records' handwriting.
A Paleography course would probably be useful and there are several available for free online.
Paleography is the art of analyzing and reading handwriting. Some have called it a science but it is better described as 'an art with some scientific props'.
It boils down to decoding texts for which the handwriting is no longer familiar.
Someone who has indexed records will know exactly what I'm talking about as even more recent handwritings are difficult to decipher. So we look for familiar words and determine what each letter looks like and thus learn to read these old texts.
Most researchers don't take this much further but some do and what luck it is for the rest of us!
One such person is Andre Comeliau. Others have followed in his footsteps and the results of their work is available online FOR FREE.
The original records are, for the most part, available at your local Family History Center, through the use of the FamilySearch catalog. The centers can order the microfilms for you, which you can then view there for a period of time.
Handwriting also changes with the language spoken.
One wonderful site you will want to try is "Medieval Writings" where you will have your choice between English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish tutorials.

I have ancestors in Petit Rechain and will show you here that these church records dating back to the 1700s are already hard to read although the letters are easier to make out.

All this to try and explain how valuable these internet pages are to the researcher who has little or no experience reading these old records.

Andre Comeliau's page starts with a complete listing of all the surnames found on his site, which contains about 18,000 couples from the Herve region (Herve, Charneux, Thimister, Battice, Clermont etc) from 1500 to 1730.
Select the surname that interests you and click on it
This will take you to a more detailed listing from which you will choose the family that has your attention.
By clicking on the family you will be able to access a complete extraction of the record(s) found on them on the site

Here is an example

Notice that the husband is on the left and the wife on the right
The asterisk in the back of each spouses's name will redirect you to the respective individual alphabetical listing.
Notice that the wife's parents are listed under her name. If one or both parents are in blue, you will be able to click to go up a generation.
Children born to the couple are listed further down.
In this case, you see that Marguerite Joseph Largefeuille was christened on 20/09/1759 - or the 20th of September 1759 - her parents' names follow and her godparents are listed as well (Susceptores)
A notarial record is also completely transcribed here along with references.

Notice too the "21" on the right.. If you click on it you will be redirected to the complete source listing and more precisely to the one pertaining to the record you are looking at.

More of these notarial records can be found at Source et Archives dans les anciens Duche du Limbourg et Comte de Dalhem.

The records there are used following a similar pattern.
Click on the name of the locality that interests you, then on the right, notice you have a choice between different types of documents.

I clicked on Mortier and only have one type of documents available, the "Cour de Justice, Oeuvres". The left side tells you how many volumes have been transcribed but if you try clicking on there nothing happens
Click on "Cour de justice" on the right
At the top of the next page you will have to click on the pull-down menu to select which register you want to look at

and the whole book will be revealed before you, all typewritten!

That site will take you to several others that are similar in their contents:
- My Barthelemy Ancestors (click on Entrez to enter the site)
- Samuel Defauwes' Geneadef which also contains valuable transcriptions

including a link that can trace this lineage back to Adam, yes Adam!
(As you know anyone who can trace their ancestry back to Charlemagne should be able to link to this line)

His transcriptions are found under "Copie d'actes" and represent several volumes of notarial records from Aubel (1568 to 1644), Charneux, Clermont-sur-Berwinne (1435-1711), Herve (1523-1549), for an impressive total number of extracted records of 12124!

Another link takes you to the Netherlands: the Digital Bronbewerkingen Nederland in Belgie
which contains Belgian records as well (and is accessible in English)

Just click in the left column on "internet" under the province of your choice, then look on the right for things you can use.
There is also a link to a WONDERFUL mailing list - mostly in French but there are English and Dutch speakers there too - HerveGeneNet, where members have also uploaded records they have shared freely. You only have to subscribe to the group (free).

I hope this has given you a new idea of where you can find records.
Don't be afraid of exploring and use these resources to help you tackle your own notarial records if none have been transcribed which can help you in your research.
And once you have found them, help someone else by sharing your knowledge!
Happy Hunting!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Online History Books

This morning my attention was redirected to a very interesting site.
Granted its content may make it difficult for the non-French speaker but it is worth a look if you have family in the provinces of West Flanders and of Hainaut.
The borders between Belgium and France were often crossed back and forth and you may find the information of great value: NordNum.

This site holds the work of a regional cooperative effort of digitization.
1. the Bibliotheque Centrale brings collections of rare local histories while
2. the Bibliotheque of the Centre de Recherche en Histoire de l'Europe du Nord-Ouest (CRHENO) specializes in regional history and collects all works published on the Nord/Pas-de-Calais, Picardy, Belgium and the Netherlands. This includes rare technical books on the mining industry, the textile industry, gas, electricity and transportation.
There is a dual purpose in creating this site. The local educators had requested access to these texts but since many of them are brittle, it was therefore unwise to handle them manually. The digitization process will enable access to them by a greater number of people.
This project is connected with the Libris project, database of local historical images
Their aim is to make 100 titles a year available online while maintaining high standards.
Since 2003, when they began this work, they have been able to digitize over 250 publications. At present they offer 370 searchable books.

Now, you ask, HOW do we see what's on there???
On the left side of the page, you have the choice between browsing through the catalog or doing a search.
Click on "Recherche" to do a search or even an "Advanced search" (Boolean) by clicking on "avancee". I never recommend a narrow search unless you know exactly what you are looking for. I always cast a wide net with a computer search then narrow down the search a little at a time. The buttons "Titres" (titles), "Auteurs" (authors) and "Sujets" (subjects) will enable you to narrow down your search.
Click "Rechercher" to start the search or "Reinitialiser" to clear it.

Click on "Catalogue" to browse and whether you browse or search, when you get a title you want to look at closer, just click on the results and either read the book online or download it (telecharger) completely at no charge.

Click in the left margin to go to a specific chapter or page or simply turn the page by clicking on the arrow at the top of the page.

The christening records of Ypres are shown here

If you want to explore a little more click under "Partenaires".
I was particularly taken with the IRHiS site which offers the download of their newsletters, "Cahiers de l'IRHiS"
Click in the middle of the page to enter the site, then scroll down and find the icon to continue. and you will will all the issues (2006-current) they have published, downloadable into pdf files.
I have downloaded several issues and intend to read them as soon as I get off here.
Till next week!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Family Histories and Index on a Variety of Personal sites

In my early internet days I had the opportunity to meet a great many interesting people thanks to the Belgium-Roots mailing list that Georges Picavet created.
One such person was Jozef Smits.  He was a scientist besides having a great interest in history and genealogy and we more or less locked horns on a technical word I had used in a post on Belgium Roots. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/belgium-roots/1998-10/0909229315
Luckily we made it past this silliness and were able to forge a good relationship.

Jos had a "sidekick" with a real knack for getting into trouble with his English translation: Jose Schoovaert, a comic book artist, painter, historian.
Jos Smits left us suddenly in 2007 but his son recently reopened his webpage, translated into English for the most part: http://www.drsmits.be/translation.html
Jos wrote several histories on his family:
* - "De Familie SMITS in 't Land van Rijen", Edegem 1977.
* - "De Familie FAES uit 't Land van Rijen", I, Berchem-Edegem 1983.
* - "De Familie FAES uit 't Land van Rijen", II, Berchem-Edegem 1984.
* - "De Familie VAN DER KE(I)LEN", I, Edegem 1992.
* - "De Familie VAN DER KE(I)LEN", II, Edegem 1997.
* - "De Familie OLIVIERS, Edegem 2001.
* - “De Familie LIPPENS, Edegem 2006.* - "De aloude Heerlijkheid Wommelgem", Wommelgem 1989.
They are all made available at his web site - under "Boeken" - in Dutch for the most part but these are being translated into English.

Guy just created a new page on our site to accommodate the upload of such histories.
On the right side, just click on Family Histories.
We have just uploaded the first one:
The story of Fons DeRoeck and Josephine Debot (Letters from Wausaukee to Antwerp 1887 - 1937) :
written for the Gazette van Detroit
by Dominique Van Rentergem, Antwerp, Belgium

I hope we can also link Andre Bodart's site (in French) shortly.
His tree can be found on Geneanet at http://gw5.geneanet.org/index.php3?b=socrate5

If you too want to share your stories, please contact us and we will make room for your text or a link to your personal page, whichever is most agreeable with you.

Jose Schoovaert built some sites where to share his knowledge, his art and his love for the Walloon language, which was still spoken fluently by our friends in Wisconsin and in Pennsylvania.

We partner with several genealogical associations in Belgium, and this one, the Association Genealogique du Hainaut Belge, also provides links to its members' personal pages or to their online genealogies:http://www.aghb.org/index.php?page=memblinks
- You can email the members if you click in the first box.
- You can be redirected to private pages by chosing a name from the second pull-down menu, like "Debaudrenghien", where you will find an extensive history of the Hainaut Province and 8 centuries of the family's history, with coats of arms etc. - Only drawback is that it's not in English but don't let this deter you.  Just make use of the online translation software.  even though you won't get a perfect translation, it will at least give you the main idea.
- Or you can click on a name from the third pull-down box to access genealogies.
Don't dismiss the "News" section on that site either as they give you links to their new projects. One such project is Philippe Capron's, on Paturages: //sites.google.com/site/paturagesenborinage/Home
This site not only contains local history information but also genealogical data about famous people who have lived in Paturages as well as many other families for whom research data is available: Abrassart, Attenelle, Audin, Ballez, Bertiaux, Blairon, Bouillon, Capiau, Dangre, Delattre, Delhaye, Demarez, Demoustier, Denis, Ducobu, Francois, Gerot, Grandmont, Juste, Lan, Lenglois, Louis, Masse, Maton, Prouveur, Robert, Simon, Tillier, Warenghien.
There are comments on how some names change from one town to another although the families are the same.  Good insight to have into the research.

This is also where I found Daniel Duprez' "Ancestralement Votre" site
with further information on the Berlemont, Capron, Duprez, Grumiaux families as well as a Search option through indexes for the towns of Dour, Quaregnon and Wasmuel.

Total of indexed records -combined births, marriages and deaths:
Dour: 11,982; Quaregnon: 9,038; Wasmuel: 10,495
and a call to help there as well.

Clicking on the links I also found a searchable index of 262, 353 17th and 18th Liege Province marriages and 70,720 Luxemburg Province marriages. The actual content of this site requires membership in the society that offers it: The Service de Centralisation des Etudes Genealogiques de Demographiques de Belgique http://www.scgd.net/index.php

I never tire of finding new sites but find the process tedious when confronted with languages I don't speak or understand inadequately.  Wouldn't it be nice to gather them all in one place?

I'm sure I have barely scratched the surface, please feel free to contact us to add more such wonderful places.