In France, the word "archives" covers both official records produced by the authorities and all kinds of documents of historical significance produced by individuals and organizations in the course of their dealings. Archival holdings can be in any format, including digital files. They can be old or recent, in perfect condition or fragile and easily damaged.
For the official definition, see Article L211-1 of the French Heritage Code.
Public archives are kept in the public interest, for several purposes:
The Municipal Archives of Le Havre has been based at the Fort de Tourneville since 1985. We manage the archives of the City of Le Havre and the Greater Le Havre Conurbation. This involves collecting and storing them and making them available to the public.
Who uses your services and what for?
Fort de Tourneville
55, rue du 329e R.I.
76620 Le Havre
Tel. +33 (0)235 540270
Fax +33 (0)235 480248
We are open : Tuesdays and Thrusdays from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. AND Wednesdays and Fridays from 12.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.
We close for a week over the Christmas and New Year period and for three weeks during the summer (if you're planning to visit in summer, contact us to find out when we will be closed).
Who can use our services?
Anyone can use our services free of charge - you don't have to be French. However, to prevent any damage to the archives, visitors have to register to use our facilities. To register, you will need to bring a valid proof of identity. Registration is valid for the calendar year.
Can I make photocopies?
It depends. In theory, we allow photocopying, but it can damage fragile documents, so it is up to our archivists to decide whether or not to authorize photocopying, under what technical conditions, based on the status and form of the documents. For instance, it is illegal to make photocopies of birth, marriage and death records, and we do not authorize photocopying of bound documents or books. You can photograph items so long as it will not damage them. We provide a copying stand and a board to help you photograph documents. We also have a scanner visitors can use. If you think you will need to scan documents, bring a USB flash drive with you to collect your scan files from reception.
Can I bring my laptop?
Absolutely. The reading room has plenty of electrical sockets.
Can I borrow archives, documents or books?
By definition, archives are unique, and public archival holdings can be used as legal evidence, so for security reasons, they cannot be loaned to individuals. The contents of our library and resources are classed as heritage, and current legislation prohibits us from lending documents or books. Our remit as an archives service means we have to be able to supply a document to anyone who requests it at any moment.
Do you answer questions received by post or email?
A ministerial circular of 2 February 1995 states that it is not public archivists' job to conduct research on behalf of private individuals if it interferes with their tasks of storing, classifying and cataloguing documents and guaranteeing public access to archives. However, if you are conducting research at a distance, we can provide information about available sources, to help you decide whether to visit our archives and how much time to allocate to on-site research. We respond to research queries and requests for copies of birth, marriage and death records, provided they are accompanied by the necessary information (dates and surnames).
You can find more information about Le Havre's public transport network and timetables.
What should I bring?
You will need to bring valid proof of identity to register to use our services. Registration is free and covers the current calendar year. Make sure you bring a pencil. We do not allow pens in the reading room in case of accidental or deliberate damage to unique documents. If you need copies of documents, you can photograph them (without a flash). Equipment to help you photograph documents is available in the reading room.
Reading Room regulations (in French)
There are three sources of information at the Municipal Archives of Le Havre: the archives, the library and resources.
The municipal archives of the City of Le Havre dating back to its founding in 1517 and the archives of neighbouring municipalities absorbed by Le Havre:
The archives of municipal corporations, including:
The archives of corporations and syndicates jointly set up by several municipalities from their founding to when they were dissolved, including:
The Marine in Le Havre fonds containing the archives of the offices of the French Navy in Le Havre from the late seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. It is highly unusual for a Municipal Archives department to hold a military fonds.
Our holdings include private archives that provide significant evidence of many aspects of the city's history. Records of the port and shipping, commerce, techniques, industry, architecture, social affairs, culture and the arts help us get a picture of Le Havre's identity. Private archives join our holdings by several different routes. They may be purchased, given, bequeathed or loaned (deposited).
Some of our many interesting archival holdings
The Reference Library
Our reference library on administrative and history-related subjects contains over 7300 books and over 560 existing or defunct periodicals, mostly based in Le Havre. The purpose of the library is to provide tools that complement and shed light on the archives and facilitate research. The library is largely stocked with publications donated by academics who have used the Archives for their research. Highlights of the many reference works that can be consulted in the reading room include:
All our books and periodicals are catalogued in our database.
Our historical resources section has been regularly added to by research and daily selection of clippings from the local press since 1980. It consists of topic-based and biographical resources and is often a very good place to start your research. We have over 4,870 themed dossiers on topics relating to all aspects of Le Havre.
The biography section (classmark BIO) contains biographical dossiers on nearly 3870 local figures from all walks of life. A file listing occurrences of surnames with nearly 33,000 entries is available in the reading room to help you find references to individuals, e.g. in Le Havre's local press.
The City of Le Havre archive
For the moment, it is not possible to access inventories of all our archival holdings via the database.
However, to raise awareness about Le Havre's oldest archives, we have integrate into the database the early fonds and the revolutionary fonds. We have also create two paper inventories, the first covering the modern period (1800-1870) and the second the contenpory period (1870-1980).
You can download all inventories.
You can also use the database to browse the indexes or do a full text search of the inventories of the early and revolutionary fonds. These inventories use the 1926 classification system for French municipal archives, except that, atypically, our revolutionary fonds uses the system for modern archives (i.e. those after 1790). Please note that the modern fonds only goes up to 1870. There is an alphabetical table of key words and names of people, places and organisations at the end of the inventories. This is especially detailed for the early fonds.
Archives of municipalities absorbed by Le Havre
Inventories of private archives (where available)
Inventories of photographic archives
Other research tools
All of us generate archives on a daily basis. Family papers, company records, records of voluntary organizations, etc. that are of significance for local history can be held by the Municipal Archives. We will be happy to meet you and discuss whether your archives are suitable to be entrusted to the Municipal Archives and if so, on what basis - as a gift, a bequest, a loan (deposit) or a purchase.
If you would like to discuss entrusting your archives to us, please contact Pierre Beaumont, Director of the Municipal Archives of Le Havre, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Voluntary organizations we work closely with Organizations operating from our premises:
Archives municipales du Havre
Fort de Tourneville / 55, rue du 329e R.I
76600 - Le Havre
Téléphone : 02 35 54 02 70
Fax : 02 35 48 02 48
Courriel : email@example.com