For the past few weeks I’ve been busy indexing records posted online by the Service Départemental d’Archives de la Moselle. I dearly love Microsoft Excel and as the self-appointed indexer of these records, I’m in spreadsheet heaven. But how, you may ask, will this help my genealogical research?
My project began as an attempt to more systematically search for my 5th great-grandmother and her family in Léning, Moselle, Lorraine, France. Marie Elizabeth Houpert was born 02 Nov 1753, the daughter of Nicolas Houpert and Ann Marie Hellering.
Most of the French records in my genealogical collection contain references to family members of the record’s subject; i.e. the mother of the bride lives in such-and-such town, the paternal uncle of the same village etc. It’s easy to find new branches. It’s equally easy to get lost among all the names and places.
So I started a penciled list on a legal pad. It didn’t take long to realize I would want to sort my rapidly growing list in multiple ways, so a spreadsheet was born:
To be considered for a line in my spreadsheet, the record need only contain a surname currently in my family tree. The name doesn’t have to belong to the subject, it could refer to a relative or even a witness.
Houpert is spelled multiple ways, so I’m also tracking what appears to be its evolution over time. More interesting however are the Houpert connections to my Gros, Gury, and Schmitt families. Patterns are forming, relationships are becoming more clear, and I’ve gained a better understanding of who belongs to which branch of this extended family.
Is it time-consuming? To a certain extent. But it’s also saving me oodles of time. I now have a ready-made list of records I may have needed to search for in the future.
For cousins wondering how Marie Elizabeth Houpert fits in our family tree:
And for others researching in Léning, Moselle, Lorraine, France, I’d be happy to share my spreadsheet.