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ARCHIVES - LE HAVRE   FR / EN
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About us

 

What are archives?

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.
 

Why keep archives?

Public archives are kept in the public interest, for several purposes:

  1. As a record of the workings of public-sector administrations, in the interests of efficiency and accountability.
     
  2. As legal evidence, to enable individuals to furnish proof and assert their rights.
     
  3. As a historical record, to preserve the memory of a locality and its inhabitants. Municipal archives may acquire private archives that have historical significance for their locality.
     

Our remit

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.

  • Collecting: The archives in our keeping are constantly growing. The administrative documents we collect from the authorities now are tomorrow's historical records.
     
  • Selection: The documents we receive are sorted on the basis of current legislation. We make a decision about whether to keep or to destroy each document we receive.
     
  • Classification and description: The documents we keep are classified and described according to a logical system. Including detailed descriptions in inventories and databases makes it easier to find information.
     
  • Conservation and storage: Our repositories have space for over five kilometres of archives.
     
  • Public access: Public archives have to make their holdings available to anyone who requests them in a reading room. French law sets out the exact conditions of public access.

 

Who uses your services and what for?

  • Local authority employees use our services in their work.
     
  • Private individuals or people acting on their behalf (e.g. notaries or professional genealogists) consult the archives to find proof or establish legal claims.
     
  • Individuals use our services to explore local or family history.
     
  • Academics consult the archives for research purposes, mainly in humanities-related fields.
     

Useful information

Contact details

Fort de Tourneville
55, rue du 329e R.I.
76620 Le Havre
France

Tel. +33 (0)235 540270
Fax +33 (0)235 480248

archives@lehavre.fr

 

Opening times

We are open from Tuesdays to Fridays:

  • from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. without a break on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
     
  • from 12.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.

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).

 

Getting here

  • By car Le Havre's Municipal Archives is in the Fort of Tourneville, just off a main road. The premises are easy to access and there is a free car park in front of the fort.
     
  • By bus
    • From Le Havre station, take a number 3 or number 5 bus and get off at Cronstadt.
       
    • From the City Hall, take a number 7 bus and get off at Tétris or Tourneville.

      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)
 

Where can I find information?

There are three sources of information at the Municipal Archives of Le Havre: the archives, the library and resources.

 

Public archives

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:

  • Ingouville (1621-1907)
  • Graville, including Leure (also spelt "l'Heure" or "l'Eure"), which was absorbed in 1852 (1672-1920)
  • Bléville (1619-1953)
  • Sanvic (1565-1955)
  • Rouelles, an associated municipality (1640-1973).
     

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.

 

Private archives

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:

  • A collection of Le Havre's daily newspapers from 1815 to the present
  • A collection of directories and almanacks of Le Havre dating back to 1802
  • A collection of tourist guides dating back to 1825
  • The publications of the Société havraise d'Etudes diverses (SHED) since its founding in 1833
  • The publications (collections of articles) of the Association des Amis du Vieux Havre, now the Centre Havrais de Recherche Historique (CHRH), since its creation in 1922.
  • The Research Tools section (classmark INV), which contains inventories and guides compiled by other archives to help researchers find additional sources

All our books and periodicals are catalogued in our database.

 

Historical resources

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.
 

Tools Research tools

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)

  • 49 Z: Boivin-Colombel fonds (papers relating to commerce, the slave trade and slavery)
  • 79 Z: Rufenacht fonds (papers of the former Mayor of Le Havre)
    Please note that permission must be obtained to access archive. Please contact us for more information.
  • 29 Z  Aubourg fonds (records of a coffee firm)
  • 20 Z: AHAM (records of a voluntary organization)
  • 103 Z: Taconet fonds (records of maritime insurance firm)
  • 106 Z  Morpain fonds (papers of member of Le Havre resistance)
  • 11 Z  CTPO - CGFTE fonds (records of Le Havre public transport corporation)
  • 10 Z:  Chaubry fonds (papers of civil engineer)
  • 4 Z: Fonds of Notre-Dame du Havre (church)
  • 5 Z: Records of the Le Havre branch of the CGT (trade union)
    Please note that permission must be obtained to access archive. Please contact us for more information.
  • 94 Z and 127 Z : Legoy fonds (papers of local historian)
  • 515 W: Habert fonds (records of rum trade firm)

 

Inventories of photographic archives

  • 31 Fi: Photographic Library of the City of Le Havre
  • 32 Fi: Thireau-Morel fonds (Le Havre construction and civil engineering firm)
  • 47 Fi: Jacques Tournant (photographic archive of the reconstruction of Le Havre)
  • 51 Fi:  Fernez (photographic archive of Le Havre before and after World War 2)
    Please note that permission must be obtained to use photographs in this archive. Please contact us for more information.
  • 57 Fi: Asselin (photographic archive)
  • 71 Fi: Jean Legoy (photographic archive of local historian)

 

Other research tools

  • INV373: Inventory of historical sources on the Belgian, British and American presence in Le Havre during World War 1 (1914-1918)
  • List of sources available for consultation concerning World War 2 (1939-1945)
  • INV365: Inventory of the Marine (French Navy) fonds (1647-1892)
  • 533 W 2: Roll of honour of the Société des Sauveteurs du Havre (1870-1922)
  • 533 W 3 et 4: Individual record cards of members of the Fire Brigade (1855-1990)
  • BAGF 6674: Correspondence between the Consulate-General of Sweden in Le Havre and the Royal Chancellery in Stockholm
     

Entrusting your archives to us

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 dons-archives@lehavre.fr
 

Voluntary organizations

Voluntary organizations we work closely with Organizations operating from our premises:

Warning
All download documents and the database are in French.
En savoir +
Règlement de la salle de lecture
Délais de communicabilité
Inventaire du fonds moderne
Inventaire du fonds contemporain
Etat des sources 1939-1945