Military History Library

The library of the Service historique de la Défense is Europe's leading library for military history. It contains nearly one million documents, spread over nine locations. Its collections are accessible to all, free of charge and without any research conditions.

The collections of the library of the Service historique de la Défense

In addition to important printed heritage collections, the library holds numerous manuscript collections, mainly dating from the 16th to the 20th century, as well as several thousand cartographic documents.

Rich collections of books, newspapers and magazines cover all aspects of military history. Grey literature (theses, dissertations, reports and courses), sometimes unique, complete these collections, which are enriched daily.

Some SHD library locations have collections with specific themes.

To understand the history of the collections and the documentary policy of the SHD library, you can consult the sections of our documentary portal :

History of the collections of the SHD library 

Enrichment of the collections : acquisitions and donations

Logo Collex

In 2018, the library received the CollEx label (collection of excellence) from the GIS CollEx-Persée under the aegis of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The library's collections, divided between heritage and precious collections and contemporary reference collections, cover military history in all its aspects, from antiquity to the present day, on all continents.

How to search the library's collections ?

The library's documentary portal, available online, allows you to search for document references, as well as to find their location and the location of the SHD that holds them. The consultation methods may differ depending on the location.

Access to the document portal

To help you search on the portal, consult our section Our search tools 

Please note that some documents are referenced in specific catalogs, which are not yet computerized

Access to specific catalogs

You can also search for digitized documents from the SHD library on the following sites 

Mémoire des Hommes 

How to consult the documents of the library ?

The conditions for consulting documents depend on their communication status defined on the portal.

You can find information on the consultation procedures on the various SHD sites under the heading

Registration and consultation procedures

Explore the collections and discover military and maritime history
The library offers many documentary products, such as bibliographies, documentary files or virtual exhibitions... Do not hesitate to consult our portal regularly to find out about our activities and discover our new products !


Last modification on 04/05/2023

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