From 1852 to 1953, France exiled more than 100,000 people (criminals, repeat offenders, or political convicts) to its penal colonies, including Guyana and New Caledonia. The collection of colonial convicts, now kept at the Archives Nationales d'Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence, is a resource for research on these repressive institutions as much as for the memory of those concerned.
In addition to the convicts, France sent many political opponents of the Second Empire and the actors of several uprisings of the second half of the XIXe century (the insurrection of 1851, the Commune of 1871, the revolts of 1871 in Algeria and Martinique, etc.). Beyond each person, there is thus a political and social history of metropolitan and colonial France of the XIXe century.
The Overseas National Archives has posted on http://anom.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr/bagnards_dossiers_individuels/ both the search tool of the Colonial Penitentiary Administration Fund and the nominative database providing access to the individual records of convicted offenders who were imprisoned before 1891.
With these electronic publications, the French Overseas National Archives are pursuing a process of making the most of the Bagnes collection, which has already begun with the publication in 2007 of the book Letters from the prison» in their collection Stories from overseas, and the launch in 2010 of two virtual exhibitions on their website.