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Founded in 1954, the Society for French Historical Studies promotes scholarship focused on the history of France from the medieval era to the twenty-first century. The Society also champions research into history beyond France itself, to include the hexagon’s historical relationships with the rest of the world, including North America, Africa, and Asia, as well as other societies on the European continent.
The SFHS is very proud to publish the quarterly, French Historical Studies, long recognized internationally as one of the premier journals in the discipline of history.
The annual meetings hosted by the SFHS have been particularly important venues for the dissemination of the highest quality research on French history in both English and French, and have offered countless opportunities for productive interchange and collaboration among scholars from the United States and Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and beyond.
Listen to/Watch Selected Conference Presentations from both the Society for French Historical Studies and our sister society, the Western Society for French History
The Society also offers several prestigious awards in recognition of scholarship of the highest rank and awards several grants in support of research projects demonstrating especial promise. Click here for more information.
Statement on Proposed Reforms to French Archival Conservation Policies
November 23, 2017
As historians of France and the Francophone world, we join our French colleagues in expressing alarm at the proposal, revealed in Le Monde on 14 November 2017, to revise the policies governing the conservation of French government archives. We are especially concerned by the concept of “archives essentielles,” advanced as the criterion for eliminating present and future archival holdings, and by the idea that digitization be substituted for the conservation of physical documents. We recognize that there are practical considerations of space and cost that go into any conservation decisions. Not everything can be preserved. But as researchers who make extensive use of the national and departmental archives overseen by the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, we are puzzled by the sudden shortage of space so soon after the opening of the new Archives nationales site at Pierrefitte, designed specifically to expand the storage capacity of the Archives nationales now and in the future. Digitization is not a magic bullet solution to problems of space and cost, either. Initial processing and electronic storage entail considerable expense, and technological obsolescence makes digitized materials highly vulnerable to degradation and rapid inaccessibility. These risks make digitization an unacceptable alternative to physical preservation.
As representatives of the international scholarly community of historians of France, we see a real danger that undermining the guiding archival fundamental principles of transparency and accessibility will marginalize the practice of French history and endanger its leading position within the discipline of history worldwide. Because we agree that archives and the access they provide to the past are “essentielles pour les générations futures” of both the French Republic and the international research community, we urge the Ministry of Culture to consult fully with citizens, archivists, and historians before taking any steps that might result in the destruction or elimination of irreplaceable archival materials.
Executive Committee, French Colonial Historical Society
Executive Committee, Society for French Historical Studies
Governing Council, Western Society for French History
Editorial board, H-France
Trustees, Society for the Study of French History
Executive Committee, George Rudé Society
Executive Committee, Australian Society for French Studies