15    Jun 20100 comments

The Interview Series: Argentinian Genealogist Pablo Briand



(This is a translation. The original Spanish version can be found here.)

"Never give up: there is no research challenge that will continue to resist the patient investigator.”

Pablo is a widely-known genealogist in the Spanish-speaking world, with several websites offering professional-standard tips and advice. We interviewed him to find out how he got into genealogy, and how he ended up where he is now.

About Pablo

Pablo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was born, as he says, “in the same year the transistor was invented and Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in India.” He studied Economics and Psychology, and then worked for several years in the music industry before coming to the US in 2003, where genealogy was far more popular than in his homeland. He arrived with an interest in genealogy and several project ideas already underway, waiting for that magical moment when they’d come to life.

Pablo’s interest in genealogy began, he said, because “I felt alone between centuries of history.” He knew there were hundreds of ancestors who came before him and with whom he had a connection, but he didn’t know nearly enough about who they were and how they lived.

His Family Research

When asked about his own research, Pablo said “The most interesting thing I discovered about my family is that the history of my ancestors was totally different from the family stories that my relatives had passed on from generation to generation.”

He shared two particular anecdotes with us.

Discussing the first, he said “I thought everything was lost in my family search, when I couldn’t get beyond the father of my great-great-grandfather. Hopeless, I sent an email to the Naval Museum at Brest, France, asking for details they maybe had about his own ship. Their response was amazing: they gave me all his parents' personal data, his birthplace, his parents' birthplace, all of which they had from his records. It was a real revelation because it turned my search from France on to Canada.

The second finding, he said, related to the discovery of his missing great-great-grand-aunt. “It was a strange feeling: this woman was lost between the centuries, had vanished in the mists of time, into the nothingness. And in a timeless moment, we found and recovered her for our family back again.” You can read the full story here.

When we asked Pablo for any advice or recommendations he had for those just starting out in genealogy, he said: “For those who’ve just started, I’d recommended you to learn to research on the web, to find the tools that are out there and learn how to use them. Don’t trust everything you see on the net; many details of family trees, perhaps the majority, have serious errors. Don’t settle for one source: cross-check data from different sources, and see if they match. And never give up: there is no research challenge that will continue to resist the patient investigator."

MyHeritage and Genealogy

Asked what he thought of the tools and applications available at MyHeritage.com, Pablo responded: “MyHeritage applications are generally very interesting, and I’m sure as the technology improves we’ll have even more to see in future.”

On the future of genealogy in South America and the wider world, he said: “Genealogy has itself a long history, with roots in ancient times and throughout the Middle Ages into modern times. Traditionally, the fundamental motivations behind this research were for family prestige, or for political influence. Today, though, it’s more of a social enterprise. The future of genealogy, certainly in South America, is going to be stagnant if we don't have enough economic resources to support further research. There are a lot of good volunteers working on there, cooperation and altruism. That's laudable and praiseworthy, no doubt. But this panorama will not generate tangible and real resources to finance travels, microfilmations, researches with a proper technological structure, etc. A field of research without budgets to maintain it and to continue archives' research and publication is something that worries me a little bit.”

Pablo’s Work

As a result of his research, Pablo has created several websites to showcase what he’s found. “If I had been born in the eighteenth century I would be writing mountains of paper with a quill pen under candlelight. I don’t know how we’d even afford enough paper to publish all of this material, because at the time it was very expensive.

Pablo’s sites include:

• His family page: Genbriand. It is in three languages: Spanish, French and English. He also has a related blog.

• His website Archivosgenbriand. This also runs in three languages. It offers a guide to the Civil State Archives of the French Overseas Territories former French colonies.

• Genealogy website Cronotecagenealogica. Only available in Spanish.

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