Dear fellow French SIG Members,
Here is a brief report about our goings-on at the Boston conference.
- At Sunday's SHARE Fair we had a number of attendees that came up to
ask questions about locating records and family in France. We were happy
to have helpful input >from the two members of the Cercle de Genealogie
Juive in Paris, the President, Bruno Bloch and member Sylvie Gsell!
- Our SIG meeting on Monday was very poorly attended I am sorry to
say, though those who did attend had some good questions. With nearly
800 members we had hoped for a better turn out!
However, we did learn the exciting news that for the very first time the
Cercle has agreed to share with us the cemetery records that they have,
for us to place on JewishGen's JOWBR site! They have already sent the
first installment for cemeteries in the Moselle, which the authors of
the book documenting these cemeteries have graciously allowed us to
have! In addition, we are anticipating records >from another large, old
cemetery >from Alsace! The only caveat is that,according to the French
law, we cannot put online any personal information, including burial
records, that are less than 120 years old. Still, that brings us up to
1892 at present, and we have the ability to add later ones as the years
move on, and provides family information previously unavailable! We also
have some small amount of records >from a cemetery in Luxembourg to work
on. A first >from that country!
However, in order to get these projects going we MUST have volunteers
who would be willing to become Project Coordinators for these
cemeteries, as well as others to do data entry! The Coordinators would
be responsible to sending out records to the volunteers for doing the
data entry in JewishGen format, and generally keeping the records, etc.
for each project. We even have an experienced Project Coordinator >from
another SIG who would be happy to do the necessary training for such a
job! We did get two volunteers to help with the any projects, however,
but the more we have the easier and faster the work!
Another matter discussed with the CGJ was that of redoing the now very
out-of-date information on doing research in France, for the JewishGen
InfoFiles! We will begin to work on that, section by section, after
the High Holidays.
Our guest Speaker, Ward Adriaens, >from the Holocasut Memorial and
Museum, in Mechelem, Belgium was charming, and shared with us
fascinating information about the amazing files that they hold,
including the very touching thousands of photos of those who were
interred there in the Kazerne Dossin - many >from all over Europe,
including a large number >from Eastern Europe (Poland, etc.). This was an
unknown resource to many, not aware of the wide diversity of records
there, not just Belgians! The most moving moments were the photos that
he showed during his second session. As one attendee noted, this very
grippingly revealed the humanity behind the names and facts on the forms.
Ward Adriaens had been called in to reorganize the mess of records
left behind after the war. He told of finding dirty boxes of records,
containing old pigeon nests and droppings, and others stored up
underneath the roof tiles! It was shocking to hear. All is now so well
organized and it is hoped that funds can be found to digitize all of
this data and place it on the web.
Another moving image was of a train, the last one there, which is placed
alongside a street, and is completely covered with copies of those
pictures, now nearly 23,000 of the original 25,000. Both startling and
moving! It can bring cars to a complete stop upon seeing it!
So, two very moving and interesting talks. Hopefully they will be
available in Avotaynu!
All of this proposed activity should be an inspiration to others
among you to come forward to give us a hand! It is time that the
FrenchSIG, with 800 members, made its presence known! >from the
questions asked of us it is obvious that the time is now!