Pierre Georges Harmant was a librarian, archivist, chemist and a passionate historian of photography and of his home town Charenton-le Pont. A biographical sketch of him that was written for History of Photography tells of how he "abandoned research on the history of photography" because there was "no encouragement or help to publish." The man was a born historian nevertheless, and the discovery of a sarcophagus in his region took him to his next historical subject: Protestantism in his town.
Charenton-le-Pont was one of the most important Huguenot towns in France, one of only two in the Paris region to have had a temple. Harmant became fascinated with the town's Protestant history and began to collect information on the Protestants of the area and on their history. When he died, in 1995, his notes were donated to the Archives Départementales of Val-de-Marne, in Créteil. It is a significant, if small, collection of research notes on the history of Charenton-le-Pont, Saint-Maurice, Fronde, with the parish records of Conflans, cemetery notes, parish registrations going back to 1686, and more, all with a care to include the Huguenots. For anyone tracing Huguenot ancestors from this area, these notes will be most valuable.
The Fonds Harmant also contain drawings of important buildings and genealogies of local families. Unfortunately, they have not been microfilmed or published. (It seems clear that this is the research for a book on the history of Charenton-le-Pont that Harmant did not live to write.) They are available on request in the archives, where the staff are most helpful. It takes about fifteen minutes for them to retrieve a requested folder or box. The archives also has a copy of the microfilm of the Haag Collection (see the post on the Bibliotèque de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français to which Harmant refers in some of his notes.)
Though the archives have a very nice work and reading space, they are not easy to get to on public transportation, involving treks under flyovers and past forlorn burger joints that scatter rubbish to swirl in the winds about one's head. Grim, dear Readers, very grim.
©2010 Anne Morddel