Archives of the Paris Prefecture of Police – Guest Library of the Paris International Rare Book & Autograph Fair 2015
The International Rare Book & Autograph Fair at the Grand Palais in Paris is one of the most prestigious fairs in the world, attracting nearly 200 exhibitors and thousands of visitors each year. And each year a French library, archive or museum of worldwide renown introduces itself at the fair by presenting bibliophile treasures from its rich collections of rare and valuable books and historical documents. For its 27th edition from 23 to 26 April 2015, the International Rare Book and Autograph Fair is honoured to welcome as guest library the
Archives of the Paris Prefecture of Police.
The Prefecture of Police was established by Napoleon by a law dated 28 pluviose, year VIII of the Republican calendar (17th February 1800) and its functions specified in an ordonnance dated 12 messidor (1st July 1800). It succeeded previous police authorities dating from the reign of Louis XIV (1667) - fulfilling a need for rationalisation and centralisation after the French Revolution. In spite of a fire at the Police Prefect’s building during the Commune (March – May 1871), and the destruction of records filed between 1871 and 1914 at the beginning of the First World War, the Archives of the Paris Prefecture of Police remain an indispensable source for researchers and historians, particularly with regard to contemporary history.
It should be noted that the Prefecture of Police has its own independent archival service attached to the SMAC (Service of Remembrance and Cultural Affairs) which is directly responsible to the Prefect of Police. With the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that of the Defence, the Prefecture of Police is one of the few state departments not required to deposit its archives with the National Archives and has a certain autonomy with regard to their conservation. All kinds of documents are held, including criminal trials, orders of imprisonment from the old Paris prisons, police ordonnances, court orders, sensitive data connected with the German occupation, the Algerian War of Independence, or the events which took place in May 1968.
A Museum, associated with the Archives, was founded by the Prefect Louis Lépine in 1909. It traces the history of the Paris police from the 17th century to the present day. The Archives themselves consist of some 9 kilometres of shelving, housing files deposited by the various Police departments covering the territory of Paris. 3500 researchers from all over the world are consulting these rich collections each year.
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