Luxracines on Tour in Belgium and France

Luxracines, my genealogy society in Luxembourg, organized a field trip to the State Archives in Arlon, Belgium, and the archives of the Cercle Généalogique du Pays de Longwy in Mont-Saint-Martin, France, yesterday.

We departed from Luxembourg by bus for the Archives de l’État in Arlon in the Province of Luxembourg, Belgium. Greeted by the director of the archives, Mr. Michel TRIGALET, we were served coffee and cookies while he gave us an overview.

Luxracines members having coffee while Mr. Michel TRIGALET explains the workings of the archives of Arlon

He explained how the archives were busy preparing to move the 18 kilometers of documents found in the present building as well as more kept in storage in different locations for a move into the new annex they are building. They have a small team of five persons and part-time personnel will be coming in to help. After completion of the new building, all collections will be moved there. They will have about 32 kilometers of archives in one place. The present home of the archives will be renovated to allow for better storage and preservation of the archives.

Conference by Mr. TRIGALET was held in the reading room.

Following our short coffee break, Mr. TRIGALET took us to the reading room where he held a conference on the separation of the two Luxembourg(s). Instead of a slide presentation, Mr. TRIGALET had pulled records from the archives, laid them out on the two large tables, using them to supplement his presentation while explaining the intricacies of the historical period and showing us documents and maps relating to the subject.

By Spanish_Inquisition (LuxembourgPartitionsMap_english.jpg), via Wikimedia Commons

Over time the borders of the Luxembourg went through various changes as seen in the above map. Although familiar with the events of the times, I did not know the effect it had on the countries involved or the people and the records they produced. Have you wondered why records are found in a specific archive and not where you would assume them to be?

The archives have records which pertain to Luxembourg but are kept in Arlon as they are included in collections which could not be separated. The history of Luxembourg explains the reason for this.

The Duchy of Luxembourg was annexed to France as a part of the département of Forêts (Forest Department) in 1795 during the French Revolution.

Luxembourg was liberated from French rule under the Treaty of Paris in 1814, following the defeat of Napoleon. The dark green area on the map (above), a part of the Duchy of Luxembourg, went to Prussia. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the Duchy became a Grand Duchy. The House of Orange received all of the Low Countries: Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was made up of the dark pink and the blue area on the map and came under the rule of Guillaume I (William I) of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Following the Belgian Revolution of September 1830, most of the area was administered by the Belgian authorities while the capital, Luxembourg City, remained under Dutch control. A large part of the area around today’s western border of Luxembourg was administered by the two governments during the period 1831-1839. In 1833 a convention was concluded which simplified the lives of the people under the double rule.

Following the Treaty of London in 1839 which recognized the independence of the Kingdom of Belgium and Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the partition between the two countries was established using mainly two criteria: linguistics and military reasons. All French-speaking territories went to Belgium. The Arlon region although German-speaking was given to neutral Belgium to remove the Athus-Arlon road which joined the road leading to Brussels from Arlon from the influence of the German Confederation.

Ledger with the entries for the border markers

The boundaries were vague and more precise limitations were set in 1843. Landmarks were set and the inventory of these can be found in the archives in Arlon.

Entry for marker No. 168 which mentions the road to Arlon

These historical events led to inventories being made of the archives of Luxembourg and Belgium in preparation for moving them to the country of origin. The archivists worked on the inventories from 1840 to 1847 with the Luxembourg side taking more time as 1. the main archives of the times had been kept in Luxembourg and in Maastricht and 2. the number of archivists had decreased with the partition of the two countries.

The repatriation of archives was made more difficult by the fact that the collections of some institutions could not be separated as entries had been made in chronological order instead of by place (for ex. military and mortgage). This is one of the reasons Luxembourg researchers should consult the State Archives in Arlon when searching for information on their ancestors who were in the military or owned land during the time period before this final partition of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Register of men who served in the military
Register with entries of land owned by Jean Limpach, a farmer from Bascharage, and Jean-Pierre Michel, a mason from Pétange

Repatriation continues even today as archivists are finding documents in their vast collections and return them to their country of origin. One example is this book of atlases for the Canton of Arlon from 1808. It was in such a bad condition that it had to be completely taken apart and restored. The double-sided cadastre plans now fill a box instead of being in book form (see box on back table in group photo below).

Members of Luxracines examining the material used during the conference

Following the conference, Mr. Trigalet took us into the area not normally open to the public.

The area of the archives which is normally off limits to the public. Packing boxes and containers are being filled in preparation for the move to the new premises.

He proudly showed us the oldest document in the archives, a charter of the Orval Abbey from 1163.

Opening up the charter of the Orval Abbey from 1163.
Charter of the Orval Abbey from 1163.

After a wonderful lunch at De Bouches à Oreilles Restaurant, we were back on the bus for a very short ride to the archives of the Cercle Généalogique du Pays de Longwy in Mont-Saint-Martin, France. We were received by their president Bernard BARTHELEMY and vice-president Aimé TARNUS, as well as, a few members eager to serve us. They have published an amazing amount of family books for the towns in the Longwy district which Luxracines has acquired for its library in Walferdange.

Members of Luxracines who participated in the field trip with several members of the Cercle Généalogique du Pays de Longwy including their president Bernard BARTHELEMY and vice-president Aimé TARNUS.

Our little trip which took us through three European countries was very enjoyable. It was a fascinating day with other genealogists, persons interested in the two Luxembourg(s) as it concerns their family and/or town histories.

I would like to thank Rob Deltgen, president of Luxracines, for sharing his photos and allowing me to use them.

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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I Hit the Jackpot with Four Births and a Death!

or How to use the (online) Municipal Archives in Metz, France

Things have been a lot busier than normal for me since the New Year. I haven’t had the time to go to my WordPress Reader and read the blogs I usually follow. Luckily most of my favorite bloggers use Facebook, Google, and Twitter and I see them as I go through my feeds. A few days ago I had a bit of time and began reading the most recent (unread) posts on my Reader.

I follow Laura Aanenson’s where2look4ancestors. In her post Catherine Brun; My 6th Great-Grandmother she mentioned her favorite French website to go to and wrote:

Then a funny thing happened.

The Moselle Departmental web site was completely revamped!

This is a site I’ve used and it’s bookmarked on my Firefox toolbar as 57, the number the department is known by. Less than two months ago I consulted the site when working on  52 Ancestors: #47 The SCHLOESSER-CONSBRÜCK Family. I wrote:

It wasn’t very sporting of my 3rd great-grandfather Johann Joseph SCHLOESSER to spend the last years of his life in Metz, France. It’s not fair he chose to work, live, marry, have children, and die in Metz. You ask why?

While most French departmental archives I’ve consulted have civil records online, at this time, the Archives départementales de la Moselle doesn’t. They have the Tables décennales from 1792 to 1952 (10 years lists of births, marriages, deaths) and the pre-1792 parish records online but no vital records.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel as an article I found online suggests they were to go online before 2015. On the Archives de la Moselle homepage there is a message which translates: Gradually, the microfilms of vital records will be unavailable from 17 November 2015. Users are advised to inquire before planning a trip to the archives. None online and may not be available in the archives? Hopefully this means they are pulling the microfilms to make digital copies for the internet. I’ve subscribed to their newsletter so I won’t miss the big announcement when they go online. I promise to be a good sport until they do!

So far I haven’t received any newsletters but thanks to Laura’s post I went to the site for a quick look around. I clicked on: Recherches > Archives en Ligne > Registres Parroissiaux > Concernant Metz et ses nombreuses paroisses. I was surprised to find a notice about the municipal and departmental archives being complementary and only the images of the departmental archives were on the 57 site.

For the municipal archives of the city of Metz I followed their link which took me to the Ville de Metz – Archives Municipals. I had to jump through more than a few hoops before I got to the page which took me to the records I was interested in. The site is entirely in French (I did not find a Translate button) so I’d like to share with you how I found my way to the records.

How to get from A to B on the City of Metz’s Archives Municipals Site

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Click 1
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Click 2
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Click 3
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Click 4
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Click 5 to open parish & civil records and ten years lists.
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Click 6 to open the registers of the civil records.
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Click 7 to choose the civil records for Metz.
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Click 8: scroll down to correct year and click Etat-civil 1840-1842.
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Click 9 until….

This is where it starts getting interesting. Metz was divided into 5 sections so there are 5 batches of birth, marriage and death records for each year. I was searching for Jean Joseph SCHLOESSER’s death record. I knew from the 10 years lists (Tables Décennale) that he died on 24 November 1841 in Metz but not which part of Metz. We can leave out a few clicks here (I checked section 1, then section 2 and would have continued through 5).

Note: If at this point you realize you are not in the right time period and you use your back button or their Page précédente button to go back to the Plan de classement des Registres you will have to repeat clicks 5 through 8 as the list collapses when you go back.

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Click 10 to see the death register for section 2 of Metz for the year 1841.
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Click 11 and 12

Click 11: Most registers have an index at the end. The site is not slow but it’s faster to click on 1 (see image above) and choose the last or second to last image to get to the end of the book. Click 12: After choosing the image number you have to click on 2 (see image), an “eye” to view the image.

metz12smThis is a screenshot of the the 2nd to last page (zoomed and pixelated*) in the register of deaths for 1841. The index shows my 3rd great-grandfather’s death record is number 194. Since he died the end of November I chose a page I thought would be in the area and then went forward/backwards until I found record number 194. This is similar to using images on FamilySearch (before their new feature was added) where you had to “play the numbers” to get to the page you were looking for.

*Due to the terms and conditions of the archives a license (free) must be obtained for non-commercial online use of images. I have pixelated parts of the index page to be on the safe side since I have not applied for a license.

After finding my 3rd great-grandfather’s death record I went on to search for the birth records of his four daughters who were born in section 2 of Metz in 1836, 1838, 1840, and 1841.

Now the work begins. I’ve picked out the most important items in the records (to be sure they are for the correct individuals) but a full transcriptions of each might turn up some little known clue. On item I found very interesting was the name of the street the family lived on was mentioned in each record. I’ve already taken a virtual visit of the street, rue Saulnerie in Metz, courtesy of a French blogger, Marc de Metz.

Un grand merci à Laura Aanenson for mentioning her favorite French website where I found the information about the Municipal Archives of Metz!

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

A Visit to the Landeshauptarchiv in Koblenz

logo_klengLast Thursday I participated in another interesting visit organized by my genealogy society Luxracines. This time we went to Koblenz, Germany, and visited the Rhineland Archives (Landeshauptarchivs).

signOur group of 23 genealogists was divided into two groups for a guided tour of the premises. Currently the Landeshauptarchivs preserves 56 kilometers of documents. The tour began in an area normally not accessible to non-authorized persons.

Archives

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The new addition to the archives, at right, allows very little daylight to enter the area where the archives are kept.
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Entrance to the CO2 storeroom.

Our group was first shown the storeroom with the most precious books and documents. It is climate controlled and equipped with a CO2 extinguishing system. Old documents and books have several enemies. As light accelerates the aging of parchment, vellum, and paper, the building in which the archives reside has only very small windows. The storeroom is kept at a constant temperature as changing temperatures and humidity can also cause damage. The precious treasures in the storeroom are preserved in archival safe boxes or bindings. Anyone who has ever experienced flooding or fire knows water and books do not mix.  If a fire should break out, the storeroom is flooded with CO2 which, by displacing oxygen, smothers the fire.

To protect document surfaces from marks made by oily or sweaty hands our guide used thin cotton gloves while showing us several objects.

She removed a vellum document from the 12th century from its protective sleeve, unfolded it and allowed us to examine the seal hanging from it on a ribbon and make a guess about the purpose of the document and who may have had it drawn up. Usually seals are made of wax – this one was made of lead. It was a lead papal bull on a document drawn up by a pope.

She also showed us the Codex Balduini Trevirensis, a book made in 1341 telling of Henry VII’s expedition to Italy from 1310 to 1313 to obtain a papal imperial coronation. The Codex is best known for the illustrations once found in the front of the book and removed due to their historical importance. Blank pages were added in place of the illustrations which were on exhibition in the Landesarchiv in 2000.

Document Restoration and Bookbinding Department

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Dry sponges and soft brush

I found this part of the tour the most interesting. It began with the first steps in cleaning up paper material. Dry sponges are used like erasers to remove dirt and grime, a soft brush is used to remove dislodged materials before the object is placed in a dusting unit where air is circulated and dust is removed by a suction system.

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Damaged (upper) and restored (lower) documents

Once a document has been cleaned the damage caused over the years needs to be brought to a halt. In the background of the above photo is a document with ragged edges. In the foreground is document that has been filled in where areas where missing. On the damaged document at the top, what looks like dark smears (see arrow on right), are scraps of very lightweight Japanese papers.  They are made from long, strong, flexible fibers that produce a lasting repair. Japanese paper does not discolor or become brittle and is translucent making it suitable to repair text areas in documents.

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Miniature screen

The technique used to repair missing areas on paper documents is similar to paper making. The damaged paper is placed on a screen (miniature at left used for explanation) and lowered into a water bath of the leaf casting machine. Paper or fiber scraps of similar color to the item being repaired are mixed in a blender with water and pumped over the screen. The suction is turned on and the water level recedes and the holes are filled with pulp. The sheet is then slid off of the screen onto a draining area. Covered with a blotter sheet the paper is flipped and covered with another blotter sheet and dried under pressure in a paper press. Blotter sheets are replaced on a daily basis until the document is completely dry. To stiffen and protect the paper it is then treated with a glutenous paste which is applied with a wide short-bristled brush similar to those use when wallpapering.

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Draining area with sheets in process of restoration covered with blotter

Seals attached to documents with ribbons are also restored in this department. After cleaning, they fill the cracked areas with same colored wax, molding it to blend in but without reproducing the missing design. It sounds very simple but from the looks of the work space it is a slow process. Colors need to be matched and seals are hung to dry during each step before continuing the miniscule work.

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Manual bookbinding equipment
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Sample of a bound book with wooden cover

A short demonstration on how books are bound was given. I had recently watched a video on the subject but seeing it in person is even more fascinating, especially for a book lover.

Reading Room

Our next stop was the reading room where patrons are allowed to view the material they are interested in. Everything you bring into the building has to be locked up in a locker near the reception area. Laptops are allowed in the reading room as well as pencil and paper for taking notes. Images of documents can be saved to a flash drive purchased in the reading room.

The documents in the archives are open to persons with a legitimate interest in, for example, academic research of the past or for genealogical and private research. However you cannot drop in and request to see records. If you plan to do research in Koblenz please check out the Rheinland Archives’ very informative website which is unfortunately only in German.  Any document collection you want to view needs to be requested per email at least two weeks in advance. 

Lunch and Afternoon Activities

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Historiensäule

Following our visit to the archives we took a short walk to the Josef-Görres Square (Josef-Görres Platz) which is noted for its 13 meter high history column, Historiensäule, that tells the history of Koblenz.

DSCN2402We had lunch at a restaurant on the square before once again dividing up into two groups. The largest group went on a sightseeing tour of the city fortifications. I joined the group of five who went back to the archives to do research.

We were taken to the back room of the reading room where the microfilm readers are located. All records requested were brought in on a cart and were soon spread out on the table. I had requested birth, marriage, and death records for the towns of Ernzen and Ferschweiler. For the period I was interested in there are no civil records and the church records are housed in Trier in the Catholic archives.

As I couldn’t do research I helped one of the others in my group. He had ordered marriage records from 1900 to 1910 for Welschbillig. It was fun to see his reaction when he found a record he was searching for. As he was not familiar with the handwriting I read the important facts from the documents: names, dates and places of birth, parents’ names and residences, date of marriage, while he inputted them into his computer. The more experienced researcher (in me) cringed at his entering the data without citing the source of each fact. He did note the number of the marriage document and I hope he takes time to add a full citation.

While I was busy helping my new friend, an archive employee reviewed the list of requested material and made a note of microfilm with ten-years lists of births, marriages, and deaths for Ernzen and Ferschweiler and other material that could be ordered in advance if and when I plan on going back.

Our time ran out too soon and we had to meet our bus for the return trip home. As always the trip was well organized and everyone enjoyed a wonderful day of sightseeing and/or research.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

 

A Visit to the Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V.

logo_klengYesterday I participated in another interesting visit organized by my genealogy society Luxracines. This time we went to Saarlouis in Germany and visited the Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V.

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Kreisarchiv im Landratsamt built in 1894-95

Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V., an association formed in 1958, deals with genealogy and history in the district of Saarlouis and surrounding areas. They have several rooms at their disposal in the building of the Kreisarchiv im Landratsamt built in 1894-95.

With a little over 800 members, the association has been publishing a quarterly newsletter “Unsere Heimat” (Our Homeland) since 1976. Members work in groups on general history, archaeology, family history, and new medias with the largest group being that of the genealogists. They correspond and exchange publications with over 60 clubs, archives and libraries at home and abroad (including in France, Luxembourg and USA). Their rich family and local history library, a center for family research in Saarland and beyond, is open to the public during the work week (except Wednesdays) from 2 to 5 in the afternoons.

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Photo used courtesy of Rob Deltgen
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Photo used courtesy of Rob Deltgen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hans Peter KLAUCK and Helmut GREIM welcomed our group of genealogists, gave us an overview of the history of their association, and explanations of the club’s collections and publications.

More than 2500 family books of towns in Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz, a huge selection of Ortfamilienbücher (family books) of the Banat, and numerous books on local history of the area and beyond are available in the library –  a collection of 15,000 publications. Everything that a genealogist needs for researching and writing about family history.

We were able to spent about an hour browsing through the library, pulling family books of interesting, taking notes or photographing entries of interest in this or that family book.

Our hour of research was quickly over and we were then taken on a guided tour of the city of Saarlouis by Hans Peter KLAUCK. Saarlouis was built as a fortress in 1680 by the French King Louis XIV.

Hans Peter KLAUCK was a fantastic guide with great knowledge and passion for the history of the fortress city constructed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, France’s famous military engineer.

At noon we took a break from our guided tour for lunch in the restaurantKartoffelhaus” (Potato House“) where specialities of the region were found on the menu card.

After lunch we continued our tour of the city by first visiting the Städtischen Museum (local history museum) where Mr. KLAUCK explained the military importance and functions of the buildings in Vauban’s fortress using the 1726 model of Saarlouis (scaled at 1:625 and built in 1980).

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Model of the Saarlouis Fortress ca. 1726 (Scaled at 1:625) in the Städtischen Museum.

Following our museum visit we continued our tour of the city across the Great Market, passing the Saint Louis Church.

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The Ludwigskirche (Saint Louis Church) on the Great Market

It was a coincidence that Roland HENZ, Oberbürgermeister der Kreisstadt Saarlouis, was on the market place as Saarlouis’ volunteer fire department, one of the oldest in Germany, were having their yearly exercise in fire fighting. Mayor HENZ took a moment to greet our group and welcome us to Saarlouis.

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Roland HENZ, Oberbürgermeister der Kreisstadt Saarlouis (left) and our guide Hans Peter HAUCK (right)

We continued our walk through the Old Town, along the Casemates,

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Kasematten (The Casemates)
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Kasematten (The Casemates)

through the German Gate,

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Deutsches Tor (German Gate)

along the Saar River,

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Saar Schleusenbrücke (water gates)

passing the “Ravelin V” park that is currently under construction

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“Ravelin V” park (under construction) with the Protestant Church in the background.

before we were back to our point of departure.

The general concensus of the Luxracines participants regarding our visit with the Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V. and tour of the City of Saarlouis was  ~~ Et war e flotten dag!” It was a great day!

Frenn vum Luxracines, et gif mech freen wan dir mir a klengen Kommentar geift hannerlossen. Merci.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey