2015 Poitiers french genealogical congress is over!

And it’s back in the office for Histoires de Familles! What a nice congress it was! The only downfall was the weather but let’s put that on the nice intention of not feeling homesick for a second 😉

A interested audience attended the congress, cruising the booths in search of that FH Society that will welcome them and their growing tree. There were a bunch of nice talks as well and nice workshops including some on how to hold a good genealogy blog. It was the only special event I could attend as I was so busy making contacts, possible clients with fascinating stories and catching up with old friends or making new ones. Talks with software ( Geneanet  genealogie.com and new comer Famicity and publications leaders ( Revue Française de Généalogie , Archives et Culture and Votre généalogie ) were really productive.  I was also particulary happy to meet the The French Genealogist and glad that she got to see the nice city of Poitiers as I only stayed in the congress area. I still got to manage a small visit to the Futuroscope. The rides seemed nice but I was more interested in the very modern architecture (usually not my kind of buildings but I must admit it fitted really nice in the scenery) and the beautiful nocturne show on the lake!

A very nice event thanks to a great organisation! I’m looking forward to the FH Show in Paris in 2016!

Here’s some pics of the congress! Enjoy!

Congres de Généalogie-Poitiers-2015-20151003_164448 (17) Congres de Généalogie-Poitiers-2015-20151003_164448 (18)

Congres de Généalogie-Poitiers-2015-20151003_164448 (32)

Next Congress’ll take place in Le Havre and sure will be as interesting and lively as this one!


Let’s go to Poitiers!

Bags are packed, full of what needed plus those « In case of » emergency pair of everything 😉 , I’m heading to Poitiers for the Genealogical Congress of the Fédération Française de Généalogie, taking place from friday to sunday in Charente.

If you are attending the congress and have british, american or australian ancestors, I’ll be more than happy to hear about it and who knows? help you with your research. The same with ancestors from Belgium, France and The Netherlands. And if you’re not attending the congress but wanna know more about those french ancestors of yours, do contact me and I’ll too do my best to help you connect with your french side!

Poitiers, Here I come!

All about the congress is to be found on http://www.poitiersgenealogie2015.fr/

8th of August 1956

« Tutti Cadaveri » . It’s with those italian words ( all corpses) that the rescuers came back from the Bois du Cazier Mine on the 23d of August 1956 following a a cascade of technical failures in  the Mine. 232 miners from 12 countries were killed, injured and only 13 workers survived the ordeal.


There had been a long history of fatal accidents in Belgium mines before but the importance of this one, the number of foreign death ( 136 of were italian, 8 Polish, Six were Greeks, One British, One German, One Dutch,One Russian and One Ukranian for 95 Belgian) combined with the fact that the victims weren’t found immediately and the extended coverage by newspapers and television contributed to make it an international drama. The events are pretty well explained in this link  ( Flash Player Required) http://www.leboisducazier.be/lg_fr/esp_8aout/play.htm

An official commission investigated on the case to come to the conclusion that a combination of material as well as human failures were the sad causes of the explosion that led to the loss of lives of so many*.

The Bois du Cazier s now a memorial, important to remember but also very interesting to learn more about what happened on that fateful day and what could have been done in the mining world at the time to extend safety measures that weren’t then and that could have saved lives. Do you have any relatives who witnessed or lost a loved one in the catastrophe? Do you have other mining stories in your family history? If so,I’ll be really happy to hear from you!

Image result for bois du casier


  • The list of names and nationalities of the victims is to be found here http://www.charleroi-decouverte.be/index.php?id=301

A new and unique coin for Belgium!

You’ll perhaps have heard it already for there  were quite a few french hiccups when it was decided to create a commemoration coin for the bicentenary of the battle of Waterloo. Only a normal thing you’d say.  Just as for any other Mint issues, Europe had to give the green light for Belgium to create a new coin. Those administrative things usually are just for the record and normally going smoothly. Only this time, France put a veto on the issue of the coin commemorating the 200th year of the battle of Waterloo. Yes, you’ve read it right and I had to check on that day if we weren’t on April the 1st! We weren’t and after much talk and discussions, and 175.000 coins already issued and with even french representatives criticized the veto, it was decided to work on a new coin. A new project that wouldn’t offense anybody, let me just state here that there are souvenir-coins issues and sold by a french company on the site of the battlefield itself with Napoleon on it…)  and a 2, 50 euros coins will be issued, with the first one out today. This should make everybody happy this  time and especially the numismatists for that coin has a value of 2,5 euros which normally doesn’t exist in the Eurozone. Yes, you’ve read it right. The coin will be a first and almost certainly…a last!

The coin that was rejected by France
The coin that was rejected by France


June 1815-June 2015 !

Here we are! This is the month where 200th ago, men fought around Ligny, Quatre-Bras, Braine-L’-Alleud and of course Waterloo !  I will try throughout the time up to the commemoration to bring infos, enlight known and lesser known facts, talk about the new memorial and events to come ! To all those visiting Waterloo this month I wish a hearty welcome ! Learn, discover, feel the ground and try to figure what those days must have represented for the soldiers but never ever forget that history keeps on going even after milestones events!

lion of waterloo

30 years from now, the Heysel/Heizel disaster….

Heyzel drama (c) -Reuter


Another sad commemoration this week is the one of the Heyzel disaster of 1985 where 39 people died, many were wounded and thousand were shocked.  The important match opponing Liverpool FC and the Juventus of Turin who took place at the Heyzel stadium in Brussels was classed at risk long before it took place but nobody expected this to happened. A general fight broke out in tribune Z, normally used for neutral supporters but full of italian supporters. People were tramped, crushed and pushed. Journalists on the scene talked of « war theatre ». Those of the public trying to flee the scene,often fathers with children,were literally walking on bodies. A good part of the stadium was too far to see what was going on in fatal tribune Z and were totally unaware of the drama unfolding. Even with such events going on, the game was played as there were fears of more dangers if the match was cancelled and the stadium fully evacuated. Most shocking to many was the joyful reaction of Michel Platini as he scored in such terrible circumstances.

Just like the Innovation disaster in 1967 for shops, this drama has totally changed the way football matches and crowd managing was organised in Belgium. The name of the stadium was changed in 1995 to Roi Baudouin/Koning Boudewijn but a commemoration plaque unveiled to never forget.

30 years from now, the disaster is still in all memories, especially the British community in Belgium. For the commemoration of the 25th year, Liverpool FC chaplain, Bill Bygrove, made this address to the representant of Juve and it’s so well written that I can’t resist copying it here from Liverpool FC website :

« We can’t change our history or dry up all our tears. We cannot solve the mysteries still unanswered down these years. But we can, for all our children’s sake and for the 39, build a monument of friendship that will stand the test of time. It is estimated the average person can live 40 days without food, five days without water, eight minutes without air, but only one second without hope. The anthem of this club is ‘walk on with hope in your heart’. We would ask you to express to those who continue to walk many miles with sorrow that they should walk on with hope in their heart. And from this club, to your club, to our friends in Italy, please say ‘You do not stand alone, you do not grieve alone and you do not walk alone. »

A Belgian TV video is to see at http://www.sonuma.be/archive/le-drame-du-heysel

And if the sports archives is of interest to you and your family history, the place to go to consult Belgian sport archives is the Sportimonium in Hofstade even if the Royal Library also have a huge collection of books and informations on clubs and championships of all kind. Newspapers collection also to consult at the Royal Library or more and more online is a good source too for matches reports and teams compositions, even at a less important leveL Several years ago, the States Archives of Belgium did set up « Gooaal! » , a exhibtion on Belgian Football, the archives of the Belgian Football Association are kept at the Archives, and this exhibition is still to see online at http://goaaal.arch.be/index.php?l=fr.


Memorial Day in Belgium too!

Today, the USA remembers the fallen soldiers of past and present conflicts in an annual Memorial Day. Belgium, of course, has been a battlefield twice in the 20th century and many young american men lost their lives to save ours. One casualty is one too many but to cite some numbers, let’s mention that 5328 soldiers are buried in Neuville-en-Condroz,7992 in Aubel-Hombourg cemetery and 368 in Waregem Cemetery where a ceremonies took place over the week end. Sad and terrible numbers…
Lest we forget!



Do you have ancestors buried in one of the cemeteries or in any other US Cemetery in Belgium? We’d love to hear their stories!