The ambition of the Great Collection of sports archives? Bring out of oblivion the documents that will allow historians of tomorrow to show the importance of the sport phenomenon in France. An emblematic example: the archives of the Racing Club de France.


Allowing everyone to participate in the enrichment of our national heritage is the beautiful idea, both democratic and participatory, of the Grande Collecte. Launched in 2013 for the Centenary of the First World War, the first edition of this event, designed by the Service interministériel des Archives de France of the Ministry of Culture, was a considerable success, generating a new impetus that helped to redraw the contours of collective memory.

Today, on the occasion of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the theme of sport has naturally taken hold. The Collection of sports archives, a national event labeled Cultural OlympiadIts aim is to bring out from oblivion the documents that will enable historians of tomorrow to show the importance – and it is considerable – that the sport phenomenon has assumed in France.

The Great Collection of sports archives is also a series of events, such as the national launch of the event, on June 23, at the Departmental Council of Indre-et-Loire, in Tours, on the occasion of National Olympic Day. It is also a very symbolic event, held on June 6 at the Departmental Council of Hauts-de-Seine: the deposit of the archives of the Racing Club de France, one of the oldest and most prestigious sports clubs in France. The point with Françoise Banat-Berger, head of the interdepartmental service of the archives of France at the Ministry of Culture. This interview was previously published on 6 June.

The interdepartmental service of the Archives of France, in view of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris 2024 and as part of the Cultural Olympiad, is piloting a Grande Collecte of sports archives. Why the Great Collection?


For about ten years, the interdepartmental service of the archives of France pilot the Great Collections allowing each and everyone to take an active part in the constitution of the heritage of the Nation, by giving, giving or deposit, to the public service of archives of its territory, archives that it holds on a theme: written documents, photographs, diaries, memoirs, letters and family stories… It is so true that private archives (personal, corporate, militant, political, social, cultural) greatly enrich and flesh the testimony of public archives produced and received by the administrations.

The operation began with the First World War celebrations in 2013. This collection, which continued over several years, was a tremendous and remarkable success in view of the planetary nature of the event, which affected every family who was able to submit or give thousands of documents. Every archivist still remembers the warm and moving exchanges that took place on this occasion.

Since then, other collections have taken place on theAfrica, on the women. Recently, on the occasion of the 60 years marking the end of the Algerian War, some archives have also conducted Large Collections thus allowing to receive beautiful archives produced especially by the called.

Today, we are 18 months away from the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a major event 100 years after the 1924 Olympic Games in France. Each municipality has its stadium, its swimming pool, its clubs. Every Frenchman has his sporting memories linked to a leisure, a competition, a physical education course. Sport has changed our urban and rural landscapes, our cultural habits, our leisure time, our relationships with the body, our economic development and moments of communion.

A Grande Collecte was necessary, whose urgency was pointed out to us by historians noting the few sources available to them to work on sport, for example on the history of women and sport or the history of the relationship to the body.


What are the major actions carried out for this Great Collection?

The Great Collection of Sports Archives is officially launched at the national level during the month of June, on the occasion of both the International Archives Week starting on June 5 and the Olympic Day on June 23. Thus, on June 6, the president of the departmental council of Hauts-de-Seine will be given in deposit, by the president of the club, the archives of the very famous Racing Club de France, created in 1882, archives that will be preserved and enhanced by the Departmental Archives of Hauts-de-Seine (see box). On June 23, a beautiful event will take place at the Departmental Council of Indre-et-Loire to engage donors, historians, journalists, archivists, representatives of the National Education around a review of a very rich collection launched in 2021.

This Grande Collecte was in fact launched in 2022 and labeled Cultural Olympiad, in close connection with the French National Olympic and Sports Committee and the French National Olympic Academy. It is sponsored and supported by our two ambassadors, Emmanuel Laurentin, a well-known radio journalist, and Marie-Françoise Potereau, a former high-level cyclist and current vice-president of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee. It will end at the end of 2024.

The actions are actually carried out by the network of public archives, in particular the departmental archives, the municipal archives and of course the services with national competence of the National Archives. Today, there are nearly 300 actions in different forms (collection, digitization, exhibitions, educational files, publications etc.), many of which are aimed at young people, which are carried out by a hundred archives services and are promoted on the national portal France-Archives.

Can you tell me the main highlights to come?


After the events of 6 and 23 June mentioned above, the news will also be rich during the European Heritage Days, with an event dedicated to boxing on 15 September at the Wagram Hall, but also on the occasion of the Rugby World Cup, with a very beautiful exhibition programmed by the Departmental Archives of Gers, or during the Rendez-vous de l'Histoire de Blois (4-8 October) or during the Paralympic Day in October, which will highlight beautiful collections of testimonies conducted by the Municipal Archives of Saint-Étienne around the personality of Yves Nayme.

The Grande Collecte sports archives are also rich and diverse partnerships. The Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Culture have teamed up to put together a call for projects for classes, from CP to terminale. The Archives of France have partnered with the Micro-Funds to integrate sports archives documents into the creation of a «Sport» collection around the 1924 Olympics, women and sport and Paralympism. We also collaborate in two events with the National Cinema Centre, as well as in the creation of an educational case with the National Sport Museum and the Reunion of National Museums-Grand Palais.

In addition, two research programmes in partnership with the Institute of Social Sciences of Politics, one on the sociology of sports archives, the other on the collection of oral archives of former leaders of sports federations, were launched.

These various actions are only the beginning of this Grande Collecte, which will continue to gain in intensity over the months, will culminate on the occasion of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be completed at the end of 2024.

The Racing Club de France archives deposited in the Hauts-de-Seine Departmental Archives


It is an event that shows the vitality of the links between sport and culture. Tuesday, June 6, the president of the Racing Club de France, one of the most prestigious sports clubs in France, will hand over the archives of its club to the president of the Departmental Council of Hauts-de-Seine. This approach is part of the system set up by the Ministry of Culture as part of the Grande Collecte des archives du sport.

« This fund is exceptional in many ways », rejoices Pierre Chancerel, director of the Departmental Archives of Hauts-de-Seine. First, by the renown of the depositor. The Racing Club de France, founded in 1882, has one of the most beautiful visiting cards of the French sport. « Since its beginnings, this all-sports club has reached a level of excellence in many disciplines, making it emblematic of French sport ” he confirms. Second, because this fund will document a little-known part of its history. “ Among the documents tabled, we find very valuable complete series: minutes of general assemblies or management bodies from the beginning of the 20th century to the 2000s, administrative files on the stadium of Colombes, important iconographic fonds... In total, this fund, which is particularly substantial, will make it possible to fill the gaps in the public record of sport history ».

As such, the capital importance of the Colombes stadium, bought and expanded by the Racing Club de France, is no longer to be demonstrated. « This sports equipment has hosted the 1924 Olympic Games, but also the 1938 Football World Cup, numerous international football and rugby matches, boxing competitions, etc. It is now a departmental stadium that is preparing to host field hockey competitions during Paris 2024. As we can see, this is a leading sports equipment, whose history is written over the long time ,” says Pierre Chancerel.

Once the deposit agreement has been signed, all the funds of the Racing Club de France will join, for ten renewable years, the Departmental Archives of the Hauts-de-Seine in July. With one objective: to highlight, according to the standards of contemporary archival practice, the richness of the history of sport in the Hauts-de-Seine for historians as well as for a wide audience.