XXIe Congrès national de Généalogie - Part Three
XXIe Congrès national de Généalogie - Part Five

XXIe Congrès national de Généalogie - Part Four

WWI Soldiers small

The military was well represented at the conference. The Service historique de la Défense had, for the first time to our knowledge, a stand in the exhibitors' hall, sporting crisply spotless uniforms and touting their genealogical joys with shining eyes. (This new angle of promotion of the military archives may explain why it is getting to be mighty difficult to book space in their Reading Room at Vincennes these days.)

Madame Anne-Elyse Lebourgeois took time off from the stand to give a talk on the archives of personnel files on civilian workers for defence, held at Châtellerault ("Métiers civils de la Défense : les dossiers individuels conservés par le Service historique de la Défense à ChIatellerault").  The facility to which she referred was the CAAP, for Centre des Archives de l'Armement et du Personnel Civil, which is in an old munitions factory in Châtellerault. It houses two major and still growing collections.

The first, the archives concerning the manufacture of arms and weaponry, covers every aspect of that grim activity, in every part of France, her territories and ex-colonies, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards:

  • administration
  • project management
  • research and development
  • manufacture
  • modern arms, including tanks
  • manufacturing companies
  • materials and supplies
  • naval weaponry
  • aeronautical weaponry
  • missiles and bombs
  • private weapons (!) archives
  • purchasing and all accounts
  • the sad reality of arms fairs
  • drawings and specifications
  • charts, photographs and film
  • maintenance

This, however, was not her subject, nor ours, which was to be the second great archival collection held at CAAP, the personnel files of all civilian employees of the weaponry and arms manufacture divisions within the military. (These do NOT include civilian employees of the Army or Navy.) There are over two million such personnel files. They cover people born after 1870 and every category of employee, whether administrative or functional. A file may be viewed fifty years after it was closed, unless it pertains to government secrets (how many does that rule out, we wonder?) 

Each file can be expected to include an individual's:

  • administrative correspondence
  • medical and any accident details
  • salary details
  • career progression
  • pension
  • awards and decorations, if any
  • photographs
  • copies of civil registrations of birth, marriage and death

Madame Lebourgeois did not dwell on the fact, but a rather large percentage of these workers were women, whose lives are normally quite difficult to research. Finding a female ancestor here could possibly lead to great discoveries.

Assuming that one can get down to Châtellerault, the access details are:


211, Grande rue de Chateauneuf

Châtellerault, Vienne


Without an appointment: Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8.30 to 12.00 and 13.30 to 17.00

With an appointment: Mondays and Fridays, 8.30 to 12.00 and 13.30 to 17.00

To make an appointment:

Tel: (+33) 05 49 20 01 47

e-mail: recherches.caa@dga.defense.gouv.fr


©2011 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy