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Researching a Conscript

Is French Military Research at the SHD Finally Getting Easier?

Garde Nat Ocmmunes rurales 1830


Word is out that the new man in charge of the Service Historique de la Défense in Vincennes, General Leroi, has been working hard to make research easier at that facility. His predecessor was a bit obsessed with the idea that ALL old military files contained state secrets and should be classified, making genealogical research rather difficult. We were having to wait up to four weeks for our research requests to be approved and a spot in the reading room to be granted. 

General Leroi has had the most heavily used files relocated from the storage facility more than a kilometer away to one quite close to the Reading Room. This makes it possible to request a file and see it the same day! Among those moved closer are:

  • Army officers' files
  • Archives concerning those who served in Algeria and Indochina
  • Army staff files from 1872 to 1940
  • Quartermaster general files from 1914 to 1920
  • Unit war diaries from 1920 to 1946

The new rules allow a reader to request up to five articles per day, which is an improvement on the previous limit of three, even when booked in advance.

This effort to ease access, along with the SHD's increased presence at most major genealogical fairs around the country, is very good for the French genealogist, as few records are as rich with detail about individuals as their military records.

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy