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:

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!