The interdepartmental service of the Archives de France, in partnership with the Paris School of Economics, has launched the Socface research project, led by the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) and the Teklia company.

This innovative project, selected in the summer of 2021 by the national research agency, aims to study the evolution of French society over a century through the global exploitation of the five-year censuses of the population from 1836 to 1936, preserved and digitized by the Departmental Archives.

Using artificial intelligence, handwritten characters from these digitized censuses will be automatically recognized and indexed. This database will be accessible in 2025 on the FranceArchives portal. Each departmental archives service may broadcast on its own website the transcriptions of its archives.

This unique tool in France will allow Internet users to carry out genealogical research of unprecedented scope and researchers and academics to conduct exceptional studies in economic and social history or historical demography. Research on changes in the labour market, the causes and consequences of migration or changes in inequalities will also benefit from this valuable new information.

Socface is an experiment of artificial intelligence in the field of archives, on an unprecedented scale.