Given that a lot of Jersey records are in French, and we have our own legal system, you may find yourself coming across unfamiliar terminology. If you have ever wondered what a Procureur is, or the significance of Muratti, or why we spell rent with an extra â€œeâ€ on the end, take a look at the Jerripedia. Itâ€™s a wiki â€“ it uses the same sort of software as the well-known Wikipedia, but the content is specifically related to Jersey. Itâ€™s not a complete resource, but more information is being added to it every day. And if you have information you think you could add, itâ€™s very easy to get an account and put it out there.
There is also the Jersey Archiveâ€™s online public access catalogue (hereafter the Jersey OPAC). This is only an index to the documents the Archive holds, but for all that it can give some very useful ways into families. The largest document set in it is the 30000-plus identity cards issues by the German occupation forces in 1941 â€“ and these have addresses, names and dates of birth. The data isnâ€™t absolutely accurate (I have found a card alleging the holder was born on 31st June), but the Germans were generally pretty meticulous. One other thing: if you find an identity card, you can guarantee the person was alive until May 1945 (cards were collected from the deceased and destroyed).
Running a name search in the Jersey OPAC is a lucky dip exercise â€“ you canâ€™t be sure what you will find. You might find records of a will â€“ and that will have a date when it was enacted, which is a helpful guideline to where to start looking for a death. You might find property transactions, or names entered in school logbooks, or possibly baptisms (there is an online listing of 19th century baptisms in the parish church of St Helier). Again, more is steadily being added to the catalogue: volunteers are currently indexing the names of everyone admitted to the hospital in the mid-19th century, and all the recorded cases of people who died intestate up to about 1948 should be on the OPAC soon.
So this gives you a flavour of some of the details you can sketch in from Internet-based research. But there comes a point when, to make progress, you simply have to arrange a trip over to Jersey to investigate. Ã€ bÃ©tÃ´t!
This is a Guest blog by James McLaren from the Channel Islands Family History Society