WHO WAS Chantal COSNAY in 1989 :

                      MARIE CLAIRE MAGAZINE : Mars 1989



When children understand what an uncle, a cousin or a great-aunt mean, more often than not they tend to draw their own family-trees… The need to know one’s origins is essential. The need to know where we come from, or the need to bond oneself emotionally with a country or a lost region. And this eagerness to delve into the past, coupled with the pleasure of finding the trace of an ancestor after many inquiries, is what Chantal COSNAY brought to her calling ; genealogy. “I was first a technician in electronics. But I could feel that industrial research was not enough for me. I wanted to fulfil a true passion, with a real independence of mind, something related to History, family, demanding a complete availability and a taste for organization. So I made a choice.”


At the age of 24, in 1982, Chantal methodically began to gather information on the history of Provence, the organization of the archives, and for several years she made up her own set of tools. “Documentation is an essential element in the equation “found information / spent time” and also to mark out the 2000 kilometers of documents of the french archives


But what is the actual occupation of a genealogist ? “There are two sorts of genealogists : the legacy investigators and the ancestry investigators. I belong to the second category. Our work consists not only in finding dates in the “Etat civil” (vital statistics, family status), but also in gathering information on jobs, religions, financial situations, the relationships of an individual with one’s social environment. We are a bit like Sherlock Holmes of the past, gathering the necessary elements to confirm our intuition.”


Nowadays, Chantal carries out around 50 research a year. But always one at a time, “because I involve myself thoroughly in family research. When I draw a family-tree, I am part of the family. And it is when I position myself in the context of the family tree that I understand where I have to search.”

A history of passion ? “It is an endless adventure, which claims a lot of time and psychological stamina. When you’re in front of a difficulty, you can never say whether you’re going to need 20 minutes or 20 years to solve it and you never know either what you are going to discover...” Now, Chantal would like to exhort us not to throw anything to the dustbin : “Each photograph or family letter which goes through our hands is meant to become an archive document in 20 years. Keeping the past of our descendants is a gift that we give them.”  


 You can write to :

Chantal COSNAY, professional genealogist, 21 rue Emeric David,

F-13100 AIX en PROVENCE, France, tel. 04 42 26 87 79  

          e-mail : famylle@wanadoo.fr