News Research Success Stories

Finding Family in France

Written by Juliette Eames

Sometimes it’s nice to know someone in France. In Philip’s case, he needed to know someone with research experience in France, and through AncestorCloud, he was introduced to Philippe.

Philip was researching his second cousins twice removed. (In other words: Philip was researching the second cousin of his grandfather, a person whose great grandparents are the same as Philip’s third great grandparents.) Her name was Julia Cecilia Charpiot. She was born in Denver, Colorado, United States, the daughter of a French consul. Later, her father moved to France and established a law practice, and she accompanied him.

Paris, a city full of the arts, led Julia to marry into an artistic family. In 1920, she married André Emile Victorien Sardou, the son of famous playwright, Victorien Sardou. (Victorien was truly well established. He had written plays for Sarah Bernhardt.) 

As Philip decided to research Julia, he had found very little after 1920. The only brief mention of her was in her father’s obituary, which stated that she was still living in France. Philip decided his best chance of success was to focus on Julia’s husband, for whom there was a higher chance of finding information, both because he was a man and because of his direct connection to a prominent individual.

In his search, Philip had found an article about  the death of André in the French newspaper Le Figaro on 8 May 1931. In French, it stated,

“Nous apprenons la mort de M. André Sardou, décédé au Cannet (Alpes-Maritimes), le 8 mai, après une douloureuse maladie. Le dèfunt, âgé de quarante-neuf ans, était le plus jeune fils de Victorien Sardou et le frère de MM. Pierre et Jean Sardou et de la marquise Robert de Flers.”


Philip knew that there was potential to learn additional information about André and maybe also about Julia by aquiring – if possible – André’s death registration.

As great as it may have been to travel to France himself, Philip decided to post a request on AncestorCloud. Three days after posting the request, Philippe Chapelin submitted a proposal offering to retrieve the death registration. Philippe, a professional genealogist located in France had the necessary proximity and expertise to quickly retrieve the death record. Within a week of submitting the proposal, Philippe had provided Philip the death registration, a transcription of the record in French, and a full translation into English.

Thanks to Philippe’s prompt and expert help, Philip has additional clues about Julia’s life after 1920. The death registration referenced André’s wife, providing evidence that André and Julia were at least legally married at the time. André’s death registration is the only reference to André and Julia’s marriage after the wedding. In addition, because the death registration gave André’s residence at the time of his death, he has a clue about where Julia may have lived at that time.

As most genealogists have experienced, great conclusions and discoveries are often built one clue at a time. Thanks to Philippe, Philip is a few clues closer to understanding the story of Julia’s branch of his family.

Need help with your research in France or Switzerland? Contact Philippe and post a request to our community today!


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