Genealica 

Agnès Bertrand

Blog 2020


Retracing the history of his (im)migrant ancestors 



It is important to place the immigration of a country's inhabitants in its historical, economic and social context.

Different waves of immigration have followed one another for the same geographical destination without the same family reasons.

They may be based on forced obligations or religious, political, judicial or military choices, for employment or simply for the hope of a better life.

It is also interesting to place this immigration in a given time and in a welcoming and caring community in the new country.

Often people of the same nationality were grouped together in the same neighbourhood, as was the case with the Neapolitan Italians in "Le Panier" for Marseilles at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.

On this subject, I invite you to read the very nice article of the journalist Jacques Lucchesi (sorry, in french) :

http://www.toutma.fr/40341/limmigration-italienne-a-marseille/

https://francearchives.fr/fr/article/91524841

The population census registers for these periods, which can be consulted in the archives of Marseille, give an excellent idea.

These sources, for example, can help a person to find and target the place and living environment unknown to their ancestors.

Finding ancestors who were "travellers" is a real personal challenge with strong identity repercussions for the person who makes the journey.

Here is a good link to try by yourself as a beginner: see this LEGACY Tree post


The difficulties encountered are numerous and one must be aware of the limits of one's search in order not to become discouraged:

Missing or destroyed archives, documents in a foreign language or illegible manuscripts, dealing with cultural or traditional differences...

On the other hand, knowing and targeting the time of the movement of his ancestors leads to an interest in the means of transportation then existing.

Did they leave by sea, land or, more recently, by air?

Did they live near a port, a railway station...?

What could this long journey in the family history represent, how did it take place and how did it end?

Thus fascinating documentary sources such as the period press (local newspapers) or ship's movement registers can be moving discoveries and bring some surprises too!

The French archival origins, although fragile by their conservation and subject to the vagaries of time (fires, wars, loss of data ...) are fortunately rich and decisive to create a link with this past and understand the local or global geographical history.

Handwritten letters of correspondence, postcards, old yellowed photos, family documents stored in a corner of the attic or cellar already constitute "Archives" in the noble sense. They have been passed down through generations, are precious and unique. We are already talking about private archives.

Bringing in genealogical evidence not only helps to substantiate one's family genealogy but also to bring veracity to well-established family legends.

A naturalization record, for example, is precious and should not be neglected when it exists for an individual in his family tree.

It represents a citizen's pass allowing the (im)migrant ancestor and his (your) family to register and integrate into a new country.

Whatever the reasons, it has shaped the lives of your ancestors and has reached you today.

Genealica accompanies you in this exciting research, do not hesitate to contact us to guide you in your genealogical research.


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