Us Seniors

Elder et Soeur Arn & Jody

Friday, November 7


Our work at the Protestant Archives necessitated a 1.5 hour commute each way. We were staying in Torcy, which is the outlaying area around Paris - just a short distance from Disneyland France. We would drive the car to the mall, park there, walk about 5 blocks to the gare (train station), take the train into Paris, transfer to the Metro, travel to our destination in downtown Paris, and then walk another 4 blocks to the Archives. The Archives were only open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., so out days were pretty filled with the trip to and from and work at the Archives. There was not much time left to do anything but some indexing when we got back to the Crucys.
Paris itself is a very pretty city. It seems much cleaner and more picturesque than Bordeaux. Where the Archives are located it is a very ritzy shopping area. The clothes stores all have things in the window starting at about 1,000 Euros for a dress. The people around there are mostly very well dressed and it is fun to watch the fashion show.
We started out working on the main floor of the Protestant Archives. We sat at the tables in the center, hooked up our computer and began to inspect the books and documents that were stored on this floor. Our job was to go through all of their collection that contained any genealogical information and discern whether they would be beneficial to microfilm, whether they were within acceptable dates (we could not film anything less than 100 years old), and whether the archives had the rights to the documents and books so that they could give us permission. We then made an excel program with a listing of the documents, where they could be found, their condition, and their size so that the camera operator would be able to easily find what he needed to film.
Many of the books were locked up behind these rolling doors. We had to unlock one set of doors and then push the others over to access all of the documents. There were all sizes and shapes of books that we looked at. One was actually written on real sheep skin. Some books were tiny and some were too big for one person to lift.
The work on the main floor was very pleasant. There was enough light and it was not too cold. The only problem was that we were "shushed" several times for being too rowdy.
The main archivist met us the first day and then she began her maternity leave. She was in her late 30s or early 40s. Her replacement was this young girl named Sophie. She was very nice to us most of the time until she saw us looking at documents that she thought we were not supposed to be going through. Our supervisor told us to check these and make an inventory so that they could decide if it was worth trying to get a further contract to film them. Sophie, in her zeal to do a good job in her superior's absence, was not happy with us and made us leave for the day. We got it straigthened out and were again welcomed back.
The French do not have central heating anywhere. They just heat each room if they are in that room. It seems like it is cold everywhere all the time. The Archives are not too bad on the main floor. However, for a great deal of the time we had to work upstairs in a room with a door that is about 6 inches thick. It is usually kept locked so the cold stays in there. JoAnn has had to type with gloves on some days. We both wore our "woobies" nearly all the time.
Most of the documents were fairly accessible except in that upper room where we had to climb a ladder to get those on the very top shelves.
We also had to work in the basement. It is very dirty, cold and scary down there. The first day, after working there a few hours, we needed something upstairs, but couldn't find the way out through the maze. There were a few panicky minutes before we found the exit. We could get lost down there and no one would ever find us or hear us if we cried for help. Luckily, we only had to work down there for one day. This teeny, tiny, very rickety elevator took us to the top floor and to the basement when needed. They always had it stacked with books and carts so only one of us at a time could use it.These vaults were also in the basement. They are rolling shelves. You turn the handle and then the shelves move until there is an opening large enough to enter and inspect the books.


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