Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tapping Local Knowledge: Yahoogroups

This morning I received an email from th Verviers_bonne-ville Yahoogoup announce the upload of yet another treasure provided by the dedication of Christine Smolders.  A few years ago she set out to make available indexes to Belgian Civil Registers for the Verviers area of Belgium.

She has had some help but has done most of the work on her own.
Here is a list of the towns for which you will find indexes in their Files folder online:
- Basse Bodeux
- Dison
- Ensival
- Heusy
- Hodimont
- Jalhay
- LaGleize
- Lambermont
- Malmedy
- Montzen
- Moresnet
- Neufchateau (Dalhem)
- Nockin
- Olne
- Polleur
- Petit-Rechain
- Rahier
- Sart-lez-Spa
- Spa
- Stembert
- Stoumont
- Theux
There are also other files uploaded among which images of area registers submitted by Marie-Josee Deroanne and maps by Pierre Nisin.

This morning the message announced the upload of a file on births recorded between 1813 and 1822 in Sart-lez-Spa.  The message is in French as it is the main language used by that group but as we have talked about before, don't let that deter you from checking it out.  Google Translate  will give you a basic understanding of the message even though it is not likely going to be perfect.  There are other translating sites online such as World Lingo, Free Translation, Yahoo Babel Fish, not necessarily in this order.  Of late I have used Google Translate more but I want to make sure to reiterate that if you plan to use these translation programs, you need to make sure the person you are trying to communicate with  knows how you are doing so.

Anyway, back to this morning's email.
Because I subscribe to the Verviers_bonne_ville Yahoogroup, and have linked my email address to a Yahoo ID, all I need to do is click on the link in the message below to access the file.

From: Verviers_bonne_ville@yahoogroupes.fr
Subject: [Verviers_bonne_ville] Nouveau fichier sur Verviers_bonne_ville
To: Verviers_bonne_ville@yahoogroupes.fr
Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 12:04 AM
Veuillez noter qu'un fichier a été envoyé au groupe Verviers_bonne_ville.
En voici les caractéristiques :
Fichier : /SART-lez-SPA Naissances 1813-1822.pdf
Envoyé par : chsmolders <fachg-hurlet@scarlet.be>
Description :
Pour accéder à ce fichier, allez sur :

Linking your email address to a Yahoo ID is common to ALL Yahoogroups.
It works the same way to access our group's files or photo albums or archived messages.
It is easy and safe, and very much self-explanatory but requires your following their steps nonetheless.
Most if all it is usually well worth your trouble.  This Verviers_bonne_ville group has a lot of information available to their group members and it is the case with most groups.

Sometimes it is not easy to find the groups however so we have begun a list under LINKS on our webpage: 

You will find that there are groups for every Province of Belgium but also some for specific professions and interests such as the following: 

Plagues and Daily Life of our Ancestors:  


About POWs and otherwise deported people:

About Military History and records:

About Traveling people like Circus people, singers, and all sorts of other professions:

Remember that these groups offer free help or at least an opportunity for free advice.
Although there is always a chance you will find a professional genealogist that may give you his price, most of the help offered here is offered in good will and although nobody ever requires thanks, these are always welcomed and usually ensure that other researchers who follow you will also be helped.
Because of this, offering your help in return is appreciated all the more.
You might not be able to render service to group where you found help but you would definitely be able to help with a group local to you.

Till next time!  Have fun!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

French Archives: Civil Registers Images Online

 Emigration is nothing new.  As long as people have been trying to better their circumstances, or been adventurous, there has population movement across continents and across oceans.  Belgians have left their mark all across Europe and the World at large.
At the end of the 19th century, the movement between France and Belgium was also a relatively common one. 
Miners, farmers, glass workers commonly moved across the borders back and forth, so you might very well find births, marriages and deaths in the French Archives that are online today.
The following map shows you what Departements have already uploaded their registers.

Migrating back and forth was common along the borders and Belgians have been found in the registers of border counties in France, Germany, Holland and Luxemburg.
Today I would like to talk about those who moved to Northern France.  
Miners, glass and steel workers have been found in the NORD Department (59) (Aniche, Berlaimont,...)
Thanks to a discussion group "Ancêtres en Avesnois" and Daniel Blondel, we have been able to find answers for researchers or direct them to the right place anyway.
The Cercle Historique et Généalogique de Berlaimont hosts a site similar to that of GeneDinant and NetraDyle where record index can be accessed up to the date: http://www.chgb.org/

Membership in their Genealogical Society is required to access the details.
There you will find information on people living in the "Arrondissement" of  Avesnes Sur Helpe and its neighboring town, also called the "Avesnois": Avesnes-Sur-Helpe Nord, Avesnes-Sur –Helpe Sud, Bavay, Berlaimont, Hautmont, Landrecies, Maubeuge Nord, Maubeuge Sud, Le Quesnoy Est, le Quesnoy Ouest, Solre-Le-Château, Trélon.

If you click on "connexion" or "Conditions d'Acces" at the bottom of the Research Block on the left side of the page you will be directed to this page, containing a direct link to the archives of  the Departement du Nord site

which will bring you here:

In the Orange box on the Left side of the page, you will see:
Etat Civil = Civil Register
Cadastre = Land Record Office
Recensements = Census
Matricules Militaires = Military registrations
Iconographie = Images

The Civil Register contains two groups of records:
- ten-year tables (tables decennales)
- records (actes)
It might be helpful - especially if you don't know when the person you are looking for might be found - to use the ten-year tables first as they contain alphabetical listings that will also list a date.  You can then go back to the 'Actes" and look for the date.
Hopefully you know the name of the town because you will need to pick one from the menu before having a choice of registers to look at.  The earlier indexes may be very helpful for this purpose.

I recently looked for a Belgian named HOYAUX in "Berlaimont" and since many Belgians emigrated there, it might be a great example to use. I left it on "Tous" for "All types of records", and clicked on the orange "Rechercher" (Search) button.

Click on the name of the town "Berlaimont" for the Tables available and find
You will not see the results as above as I clicked on the + button next to each type of record.
Naissances = Births
Mariages = Marriages
Deces = Deaths

Click on one of the new + buttons next to one set of records and see the digital images available

Click on the image to view the table images.  You will have to either thumb through the images or guess according to the alphabet where to find the letter - in my case H, for HOYAUX.

You will also be able to zoom in and out. Just try the different buttons above and below to see how they work.  You won't hurt anything.

Once you have found your date, go back to the "Archives en Ligne" page and click on "Etat Civil" again, and choose "Actes" for "Berlaimont", and add the type of record you are looking for.

and find

Click on the time frame you want and access the images.

You will get to the first page so be prepared to thumb through to the date you are looking for.

Let's go back to the beginning...
Under Cadastre you will find two sets of maps.
- the land register called du "Consulat"
- the land register "napoléonien"
These first maps cover the beginning of the 19th century while the second maps cover a larger time frame going into the beginning of the20th century for certain towns.
If you speak French (if not try, google translate to get the main idea) - go to this page for detailed explanation of what the differences between them are.
Just remember to click in the left column to access the maps

Under Recensements, you will find the 1906 census as it is the most thorough.  Lille was not submitted so it is missing at this time.

Under Matricules Militaires:

You will have two choices again: 
- Tables des matricules: this option will help you find information about young men who registered for military duty when 20 years old, in one of the Conscription offices of the Departement du Nord.
Here you will find the tools you need to access the correct registration papers:  the volume number and the registration number (Matricule)

- Fiches matricules (registration cards): or military file are organized:
     - by age group (ie the year during which a conscripted individual turned 20y old, the legal age for military service),
     - by registration office  (5 or 6 depending on the year),
     - then by registration number. Each register counts about 500 cards, in numerical order.

This really is an awesome tool.
There are rules and regulations of course but as long as you do not use these for any other purpose than personal use, you will have no problem.

If you are interested in other departements you may find slight differences in the formatting and you might even find some other types of records.  Don't be afraid to try.  You can't hurt anything!
Have fun!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bibliotheca Andana

On March 28, 2012, a new site was officially announced which enables researchers to access at present about 75,000 beautifully digitized records for the most part presented for the fist time, from private collections, from the Museum, the Library or the Archives of the city of Andenne.

The site is the product of many years of hard work supported by the Echevinat de la Culture and the city of Andenne, Belgium.  I introduce to you Bibliotheca Andana

Among the images you will find
post cards,  books, old local newspapers, funeral cards and notices, and last but by far not least, the images of Civil Registers for the towns of
Andenne, Bonneville, Coutisse, Landenne, Maizeret, Namêche, Sclayn, Seilles (work still in progress), Thon-Samson, Vezin

Also Passports of two kinds: some used for travel within the country, some used to travel abroad.  These  also provide a physical description of the bearer, like the WWI Draft Registration Cards in the US.

I will attempt to translate pertinent information here below:

Civil Register Records
Today the Civil Registry is now made up of records of birth, marriage and death kept pursuant to the "Civil Code".
It is into the hands of the College of Aldermen that section 125 of the New Law expressly commends the duty of keeping such records.  The Mayor acts as the officer of the Civil Register and is "specifically instructed to observe all that concerns the records and record keeping."
The New Municipal Act succeeded the Municipal Law of March 30, 1836, from which Article 93 derived similar provisions.  Article 131 ordered the city council to account annually for the cost of maintaining the Civil Registry, as outlined in Article L 01/01/1321 ° of the code of local democracy and decentralization.
The Municipal Law of 30 March 1836 confirmed, with respect to the registrar of civil status, a principle enshrined in Article 109 of the Belgian Constitution of February 7, 1831 as currently in section 164 of the revised Constitution February 17, 1994: "The drafting of civil register records and record keeping are exclusively within the competence of municipal authorities."
The Belgian Constitution and Municipal Law of 30 March 1836 thus secularized the Civil Registry born out of the French decree of 20 September 1792, applied in Belgium by the Executive Directory decree of 29 Prairial, Year IV (17 June 1796), Belgium having been annexed to France by the decree of 9 Vendémiaire IV (October 1, 1795).
This marks the moment when local secular authorities really began to take charge of the Civil Registry.
The decree of September 20, 1792 is basic: it determines the mode of recognition of the civil status of citizens, mode of observation which was previously in the hands of ecclesiastics.
The separation of Belgium from France, brought by the treaty of May 31, 1814, did not significantly change things except for changing the words for Mayor to Burgmeister and the Deputy Mayor became known as the alderman or the assessor.  The matter was settled, during the short lived Dutch period, by Article 59 of Regulation of 19 January 1824 for the administration of cities and by Articles 77 and 95 of the Regulation of 23 July 1825 for the administration of "low country" (rural municipalities).

To access the images of the available registers, go to  http://www.bibliotheca-andana.be/
In the black Menu Bar, hover over "Etat Civil" then choose a town among those available:

Click on the town's name of your choice. I picked Maizeret:

Choose between the type of record you want to examine:
Naissances = Births
Mariages = Marriages
Décès = Deaths
Tables annuelles = annual indexes
Tables décennales = 10y tables = indexes of names

Let's say I want to look at the births
I click on "Naissances" and a list of years available comes up on the next page, like this:
Click on the year of your choice and you will come to the record images which you will have to open one at a time.  They are in pdf format so make sure your computer has Adobe Reader.  If you need to download it, go to www.adobe.com and download the free Adobe Reader.

 To view the record image, click on the red link "Telechargez ..."

At the bottom of the page the zoom in and out option that come in pdf format will enable you to better look at the record and save it too.

Under the other headings you will find local postcards, photos as the titles indicate.
Under "Documents" you will find
- posters of different types, advertisements, etc
- business cards, and other business letterhead items
- bills issued from a variety of businesses for various items
- promotional items, catalogs
- maps and blueprints
- envelopes
- funeral announcements/cards

Under "Livres" you will find a variety of local history books in review.  They are not downloadable unfortunately.

Under "Journaux" you will find 9 old local newspapers that you can read online or save.

Under "Registres" hides a series of decisions and minutes from local authorities' meetings.

Under "Dossiers" expect an amalgam of papers pertaining to a particular topic.

More explanations on how records were kept:

Parish Registers
The decree of September 20, 1792 provides that "municipalities will receive and retain from here on, records intended to witness births, marriages and deaths"; it treats, under Title VI, the fate of the old parish registers:
"... Within a week after the publication of this decree, the mayor or a municipal officer ... shall be required ... to go to clerks of the Parish churches, presbyteries and deposit records of all religions, where they will develop an inventory of all existing records in the hands of priests and other stakeholders. Current records will be closed and approved by the mayor or municipal officer ";
    under Article 2, "all books, both old and new, will be taken to and deposited at the town hall";
    Finally, under section 4: "... Within two months from the publication of this decree, an inventory of all registers of baptisms, marriages and burials existing in the court registries will be created.  Within one month after that, records and inventory will be entrusted to the  attorney generals ...for transport and deposit in the department’s archives "
While the Civil Registry (Births, Marriages, Deaths) has been kept by the secular administration since 1792, Parish Registers were kept by clergymen who recorded baptisms, marriages and burials. These church records, at the time, carried as much legal weight as the Civil Registry, which is no longer the case.
The keeping of these church records originated with legislation in part secular and in part religious in origin, which can easily be traced back to the Ordinance of Villers-Coterets, and is actually older.
The order, which was enacted by Francois I, King of France, on August 25, 1539, is the work of Chancellor William POYET, hence the name of Guillelmine or Guillemine that it was sometimes given. it covers the registrers of burials (Article 50) and baptisms (Article 51). Section 53 requires the Chapters, convents and cures to file annually with the registry records of the headquarters of "bailiff" or "royal seneschal" for preservation and to use it when needed.

Other texts of interest
-    The proceedings of the Council of Trent (24th session of November 11, 1563), by which Parish priests were ordered to record the names of godparents in the baptismal register. These annotations were based on purely religious grounds, indeed, at the time, the spiritual relationship created at baptism, translated into marriage impediments.  The Council of Trent circumscribed it so as to avoid the disadvantages arising from the multiplicity of spiritual alliances, contracted only by godparents.
-    The order called "of Blois", work of Chancellor Hurault Cheverny, which dated back to May 1579. Under Article 40, we can not marry without "prior proclamations made by three different holidays, with appropriate intervals" and, in order to show that proper form was observed for these weddings, at least four trustworthy people will, attend, which will be written into the record.
 -   The order called "Saint-Germain-en-Laye" also called "Code Louis," of April 1667. This ordinance standardizes the preparation of records. It requires signature of the godparents on baptismal records; of spouses and witnesses on marriage records; of both parents, or friends present on burial records, confirming what was already done in many areas.
-    A royal decree of Louis XV dated April 9, 1736: there will be kept in every Parish in the kingdom two copies of registers, both considered authentic before the courts, to record baptisms, marriages and burials which would be used through the course of year.  These registers would be provided at the expense of the Fabrique. All records of baptism, marriage and burial would be kept in these registers, chronologically with no blanks, and would be signed by those who must.  Both registers would have to be signed by the officiator, contracting parties and witnesses.
-    The order and perpetual edict of sovereign princes and archdukes of July 12, 1611: given the frequent difficulty in proving one’s age "when getting married or at someone’s death, magistrates and other legal representatives, for towns as well as villages, are directed to collect an authentic copy of the registers of baptism, marriages, and burials that every priest has held in his parish. This duplicate register should be sent to the clerks of the City Registry… for preservation.

What a wonderful site for  us to use!
If you have a minute, click on "remerciements" to discover those who made the site possible for us!
And share with your friends on Facebook!  And at the bottom right of the page, sign up for updates. ("S'inscrire au flux RSS")

Have fun!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1940 US Census Indexing Project


World War II European Theater Army Records on Fold3.com

Caught a tweet this morning, from Dear Myrtle and had to check it out.  I looked for a message from Fold3.com in my mail box but never found one... no tweet either so I hope Dear Myrtle won't mind my recopying some of it here.

When I was a little girl, I turned my eyes and cringed every time one of my elders would bring up the war (WWII) as they were alive when it happened and they remembered first hand what they had gone through.

My father was five years old when the German armies marched through his little village of Dalhem in early May 1940.   I am fuzzy about the exact chronology but I know my grandfather was deported to Germany shortly after the invasion. How he ended up in a military POW camp, I am not sure about either but that is where he was.  We have a handful of letters he wrote the family but they never quite satisfied my curiosity.
They first had him in Stalag VA in Ludwigsburg, then moved him to Stalag VB in Villingen. He was put in the service of a woman whose husband was fighting/had fought in Hitler's armies: Widow HEFELE at Illerbachen - hamlet of Berckheim- D- 88450.

In his own correspondence with me, my father says that he still recalls vividly the few hours of 'emptiness' between the time the German soldiers left and the American soldiers arrived... "like the calm after the storm".  He painted a US flag and a UK flag on two white sheets...  I often think about the soldiers who came marching down the street that day... Did they notice him? Not that it matters really but there was so much emotion involved in making those flags... I can picture him waving them with all his arms from the top of his 10 years.  Which army delivered them, anyway?

I recently transcribed letters that my husband's uncle wrote while he served as a medic in Europe. He was in Liege, and in Maestricht...  did he ever walk through the streets of Dalhem?  He never mentions it by name although he does talk of the welcoming committee they found everywhere they went.  Stanley was assigned to the US Ninth Army...

SO as I discovered this morning that Fold3.com (formerly FootNote.com) had released WWII European Theater Army Records, I could not resist.
 "War is waged primarily in battle, yet made possible by operations beyond the battlefield as revealed in the WWII European Theater Army Records, a collection of administrative documents compiled by the U.S. Army's Historical Division, 1941 through 1946. These records, originally marked secret and confidential, are now available on Fold3.", as the message sent to Dear Myrtle explains.

We do tend to think of combat when we think of war battles, but would the troops do without their supporting cast in charge of:
- supplies
- engineers
- medical
to name but a few...

Transcribing Stanley Safford's letters made me see with new eyes the building of pontoon bridges and the plight of soldiers dealing with mud and debris... 
After reading the sample document included in the article I knew I had to share these with you.

IMAGE: Details of air transport evacuation of 30,000 Allied prisoners of war. *

*IMAGE SOURCE: U.S. Army, U.S. Forces, European Theater, Historical Division: Records, 1941-1946 . National Archives Records Administration. Record Group 498, File 261 page 407. Viewed 3/14/2012 at www.Fold3.com. "These records cover operations of the European Theater during World War II, as collected, maintained, and organized by the Army's historical division staff."

I too got a chuckle out of the comments made by Captain James Stewart as he transported the former POWs from Belgium and other places to 'his' fort.

It struck me funny how people who had been deprived for years would think twice about taking a cigarette from the soldiers who were offering them for fear the soldiers would not have enough for themselves...  and it brought me back to my grandfather...  When he returned he too was not much more than skin and bones and obviously changed by the years in captivity.  As my father said: "after he came home he was more like a godfather than a father".

You may wonder how to access these records?
Go to www.fold3.com
You can benefit from a 7 day free trial if you have never registered with FootNote
They are having a special right now, so might be worth your time to subscribe.
Or you can go to a library that has access to the database, like a Family History Center for example.
Some other libraries give access to their patrons, either at the library or remote access.  You might want to ask your local librarian.

That's all for today...  Happy Hunting!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Namur, Wisconsin - Extrait - RTBF Vidéo

Namur, Wisconsin - Extrait - RTBF Vidéo

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Researching on the Belgian Archives site

I find this article published in Belgian Laces Vol#30-116 still applicable and since FamilySearch was once again asked to remove the images from access on www.familysearch.org, at least here are some directions as to how to use the Belgian Archives site to do some research.  Good luck!

The Belgian Royal Archives have made available many names online also.
Go to: http://arch.arch.be/  and choose your language of preference: Dutch or French only for search formats, which is why I have taken the time to translate below to help take you through the steps of a Person Search on this site.
If you chose the English setting for the site, the search menu will be in Dutch.
(see Advanced Search)
Person Search
1. What can you find under “Person Search”?
A large number of researchers at the Archives facilities are interested in information about their ancestors, … Therefore a large part of the research in the reading room sis geared to genealogy.  In the past, analyses on often used documents have been done in collaboration with volunteers and that is what has produced the ‘analytical inventories’.
The results of these volunteer projects can be found under  Person Search.
We have chosen to set up one large database from which all information can be retrieved.

2. What information is available?
The information starting point is the archival record.  At the top of the screen, you have the information about the document and the link to the database where it is found in the archives, then, a description of the record.
Each record is linked to the names of persons found in it.  The roles these people play in the record are also explained. 
The availability of the records first depends on the source but also on the project definition.  The analysis provides the starting point that will require that the researcher view the original record for him/herself.  Here is a description of different projects:
- Marriage records from Eastern Flanders : 1,337,339 names
- Birth records from Western Flanders: 160,785 names
- Death Records from Eastern Flanders: 130,389 names
- Notarial records from Nivelles (Notaire Paradis): 41,076 names
- Marriage records from Flemish Brabant: 12,525 names (test)
- Notarial records from Antwerp: 290,888 (to validate)

3.Searching in “Person Search”
3.1. Simple Search

 the site in Dutch/French:
Gelijk aan/égale = exact match
Begint met/commence par = begins with
Eindigt op/termine par = ends with
Bevat/contient – contains

Type in a first name and/or surname and set a time frame for your search.
To be more efficient, you might choose specific documents to search in, or be more flexible with the name by changing from “exact match” to “starts with” or “ends with”, or “contains” specific letters.
For example :
« Comprend ‘Jan’ » will give Pieter Jan, Jan Pieter, …

For the date, you also have several choices. You can use an exact date, or choose a time frame between specific dates or years, or before or after a certain date or year.
And you can limit your search to a specific record: birth, death or marriage, assuming the records are available

3.2. Advanced Search - See first picture above
Allows you a wider variety of searches:

3.3. Search results

Results will be limited to 1,000 hits. If you receive this message, it is advised that you narrow down your search.

You will get a list containing the names matching what you were looking for.  In the 1st column you will find the type of record abbreviation.  By hovering over it with your mouse you should get a complete description of the record.
The 2nd column gives the record date, then the name, place and role played by the person whose you found in the record.
Click on a names to see all the information.

The information contains misspellings sue to the fact that it is transcribed AS IS. The researcher must be flexible enough in his/her research to look for all possible spellings of a name.

This information is online thanks to the efforts of the DemoGen indexers. For more information: http://demogen.arch.be/
I did a search for a last name only "DROSSART"
The search resulted in 64 hits:

I clicked on the first name in the listed to obtain the following:

In this case, Servais DROSSART is the father of the deceased.  I know, no images but it's still a pretty awesome way to find your ancestors...  Happy Hunting!


There was an error in this gadget