It is our goal to visit all of the different locations of the archives of the Service Historique de la Défense, for they really do contain so much that is so different from what is to be found in the Departmental Archives or the National Archives. Currently, their locations are:
- Vincennes - The central archives and library on all branches of the military
- Cherbourg - Naval archives concerning activity in the Channel and the North Sea
- Caen - Archives concerning the victims and dead of wars of the twentieth century
- Brest - Naval archives concerning activity in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
- Lorient - Naval archives concerning activity in the Indian Ocean, including those concerning the Compagnie des Indes
- Le Blanc - Archives concerning the Gendarmerie nationale
- Rochefort - Naval archives concerning activity along the Atlantic coast, from the Vendée to Spain
- Châtellerault - Archives concerning shipbuilding as well as civilian personnel
- Pau - Central archives concerning modern military personnel
- Toulon - Naval archives concerning activity in the Mediterranean Sea
It is slow work. To date, we have been to Vincennes dozens of times and to Brest a couple of times. Now, we are able to add Rochefort.
One must go up a flight of stairs to the Reading Room, which is tiny, seating no more than a dozen people at a squeeze, but all is modern, clean and exceedingly well organized. The staff of one was a knowledgeable and helpful lady who dashed out the door every few minutes to smoke quite a lot of cigarettes in quick succession, then rushed back in to answer all questions most thoroughly, explain all equipment most patiently, display all those pertinent of the excellent finding aids most neatly and (a first) to suggest and retrieve documents relevant to our research about which we had no hint. Magnificent woman!
With her help, we were able to examine:
- On microfilm, port correspondence from 1758 concerning the Acadians
- Dozens of complete crew lists -- rôles d'équipages -- dating from 1691 to 1789
- A complete section on families sent to the colonies from 1763 to 1767
Additionally, this archive contains:
- The archives of the naval hospital and health authority at Rochefort, and of the world's first school of naval medicine
- Records of local shipbuilding
- Over five thousand ship plans
- Maritime court records, including lists of convicts sent from the port during the years from 1766 to 1852
- Naval enlistment records and naval and commercial crew lists for all those ports on the Atlantic coast
- A very thorough collection of papers on prizes taken by privateers
Our time was far too short, but we could not stay longer.
And then we went to see the Hermione!!!!
4, rue du Port
tel: (+33) 5 46 87 74 90
Monday to Thursday - 9.00 to 12.30 and 13.30 to 17.00
Friday - 9.00 to 12.30 and 13.30 to 16.30
©2016 Anne Morddel