The Heritage Code states that the preservation of archives is “in the public interest, both for the purposes and justification of the rights of natural or legal persons, public or private, and for the historical documentation of research”. At each level of the territorial organization of France, from the state to the municipalities, the public is therefore entitled to find ways to locate and consult the documents that interest them.
Those documents which are public archives within the meaning of the Heritage Code are kept in multiple institutions and bodies, over which the Service interministériel des archives de France exercises scientific and technical control.
The National Archives consists of three departments with national competence. The first is a general practitioner and includes the sites of Paris, Fontainebleau and Pierrefitte-sur-Seine. The other two are specialized and decentralized: the French National Archives are in Aix-en-Provence and the National Archives of the World of Work in Roubaix.
New definition of archives since the passage of the CAP law :
The archives are all documents, including data, whatever their date, place of conservation, form and medium, produced or received by any natural or legal person and by any public or private service or body in the exercise of their activity.
Local authorities and groups of local authorities are the owners of their archives, which they themselves preserve and develop in accordance with the heritage code (Articles L. 212-6 and L. 212-6-1). They may, under certain conditions governed by law, entrust this task to the archives service of another local authority. Article 212-11 also provides that the old archives of municipalities with less than 2,000 inhabitants must be deposited in the Departmental Archives, unless a derogation is granted by the prefect of department.
A number of public bodies are authorized, by way of derogation, to retain their final archives themselves, provided that they are processed and communicated to the public in accordance with the rules in force in the public archives services.
Private archives, as a rule, are the sole responsibility of their owners. However, some of them, which are of historical interest, may either be classified as historical archives or acquired by a public archives service when they are put up for sale.
The website of the Archives of France addresses citizens and professionals alike. It will allow you to browse the collections of the National Celebrations, to consult the directory of all the archives services in France, to find the regulatory texts that govern the archives, to have an overview of the resources put online by the various services in France, to query a number of national databases. The Managing Archives section is particularly aimed at archivists, while the Searching in Archives section is more geared towards individuals. Finally, a section is dedicated to the National Centre for Microfilms and Digitization.
The role of the DAC Meeting:
The mission of the Archives Advisor in the DAC oI is to provide financial support through grants to local authorities in several areas related to archives:
- Facilities of the archives service
The CAR is not a place of conservation (other than the heritage documentation centre). To consult the archives one must go to the Departmental Archives.