After a long and frustrating day at CARAN, when the normally very efficient microfilm room seemed to fall to pieces, we wandered a few streets to the east to investigate the
Archives de l'Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris,
(the archives of the public hospitals of Paris.) Our arthritic pins were weary and we were daunted by the entry:
Still, we made the climb for we have been researching a family some of whose members died during an epidemic of influenza (la grippe) that swept Paris in 1889, and we hoped to be able to find out more, possibly even some patient records. The reading room was tiny:
but what a treasure this place is! The collection began in the 17th century as the archives of the Hôtel-Dieu, a most ancient charitable hospital in front of Notre Dame, was then burned with the Hôtel de Ville in 1871, and was begun again with a massive hauling off of all archives from all public hospital administration offices in 1905. It has been in its current location since 1941, as the stairwell above surely proves.
The collection contains:
- what could be reconstructed from the burned archives, which went back to the 13th century;
- hospital administration records from the 19th century onwards;
- a collection of photos of hospitals, doctors and patients beginning in the 19th century;
- a library, of which more below;
- and, what is of most interest to genealogists, medical archives, including patients' files, from the 18th century (unfortunately, not for the hospital we were seeking).
Small and simple, it is nevertheless a facility both easy to understand and to use. Binders contain lists of what is available from each hospital, whether as paper or microfilm. Comfortable chairs and tables with good lighting are provided for the researcher (see above).
Best of all, we thought, was the little library, especially its unique and excellent collection of 18th and 19th century books on the disturbing problem of enfants abandonnés (abandoned children). Information and statistics about such children is now scattered across all twenty arrondissements and various government offices. This little collection of books surely has to be one of the best resources for statistics and cases on a national level. For anyone researching the subject, please note.
Access to the library is free. As always, one completes a form, shows identification, must lock all belongings in the locker provided, and use only pencil to take notes. A library card is issued and the wonderfully knowledgeable and competent librarian is ready to assist.
Archives de l'Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris
7 rue des Minimes
telephone: (+ 33) 1 40 27 50 77
fax: (+33) 1 40 27 50 74
hours: Monday to Friday, 9.00 to 17.30
métro: Chemin-Vert or Bastille
©2009 Anne Morddel