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National Archives, France


The main building of the Archives Nationales in Paris, France. The archives house some of the earliest New Orleans architectural records. Learn more

A vital resource for scholars of early Louisiana architecture, the Archives Nationales was created in 1790 to preserve French historical records. It operates under the authority of the Directorate of the Archives of France, in the Ministry of Culture, and its various departments, which were established in 1796. The largest in the world, the archives are divided into five centers. For the researcher of Louisiana architecture, the Centre des Archives d’Outre-Mer (Center for Overseas Archives) is the most fruitful. Created in 1966 and located in Aix-en-Provence, France, the archives contain records from the seventeenth through the twentieth century, covering forty present-day independent countries.

The resources for Louisiana architecture in the archives were brought to light when Samuel Wilson, Jr. was studying abroad on an American Institute of Architects scholarship, researching and transcribing Louisiana colonial documents in the French archives. In September 1938, a year before the outbreak of World War II, archivist M. De la Roncière helped locate additional Louisiana colonial documents and waived the usual time-consuming approval procedure so that Wilson could have photographs made of the plans. Roncière told Wilson, “Get a photographer here as soon as you can. I wish I could give you these things to take back because we might have a bomb through the roof any day.” Ignace Broutin, Alexander de Batz, Valentin Devin, Bernard Deverges, I. E. Gonichon, Jean Pierre Lassus, Pierre Le Blond de la Tour, and Adrien de Pauger are among the Louisiana architects whose work Wilson recorded.

Author: Robert Cangelosi

Cite this entry

Chicago Manual of Style

Cangelosi, Robert "National Archives, France." In Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published August 4, 2016.

MLA Style

Cangelosi, Robert "National Archives, France" Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 4 Aug 2016. Web. 23 Sep 2017.

Suggested Reading

Wilson, Samuel. “An Architectural History of the Royal Hospital and the Ursuline Convent of New Orleans.” Louisiana Historical Quarterly 29 (1946): 559–569.

—.“Architecture in Eighteenth-Century West Florida.” In Samuel Proctor (ed.), Eighteenth-Century Florida and Its Borderland (Gainesville: University of Florida, 1975), 102–140.

—.Bienville’s New Orleans: A French Colonial Capital, 17181768. New Orleans, LA: Friends of the Cabildo, 1968.

—.The Capuchin School in New Orleans, 1725. New Orleans Archdiocesan School Board, 1961.

—.“Colonial Fortifications and Military Architecture in the Mississippi Valley.” In John Francis McDermott, The French in the Mississippi Valley (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1969), 103–122.

—. “The Director’s House, La Direction, 1722.” New Orleans States (February 21, 1953).

—.“Early Aids to Navigation at the Mouth of the Mississippi River.” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 70 (1944): 278–287.

—. “Ignace François Broutin.” In John Francis McDermott (ed.), Frenchmen and French Ways in the Mississippi Valley (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1969), 259–266.

—. “Louisiana Drawings by Alexandre DeBatz.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 22 (1963): 75-89.

—.“Religious Architecture in French Colonial Louisiana.” Winterthur Portfolio 8 (1973): 63–106.

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