Territorial Network Centre / North West Division
North West Division of the SHD Territorial Network Centre
Main holdings and collections available:
- Naval Command and Maritime Prefecture of Brest
- Decommissioned ships and military bases in Africa, the Atlantic and Pacific zones
- Intendance and Commissariat de la Marine
- Health service, including the Brest Maritime Hospital
- Naval construction
- Hydraulic and maritime works
- Brest prison
- Maritime registration of the quarters from Saint-Malo to Quimper
- Maps, plans, photographs
- Library of the Académie de marine
4, rue du Commandant Malbert
29240 BREST CEDEX 9
Tuesday to Thursday from 8.30am to 5pm
Request for guidance
Telephone : 02 98 22 05 39
"L'Académie de marine" produced by Studio J Bekkari in Brest, production 2022. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the re-founding of the new Naval Academy in 1921 and the 270th anniversary of its foundation in Brest in July 1752, the Brest Defence Historical Service wanted to make a small film production with the aim of retracing the human and scientific epic of the Royal Naval Academy from its origins to the present day. The film shows Brest as a land of maritime excellence, where the World Maritime Campus launched in the 21st century is directly in line with the 18th-century Marine Academy.
Video on the construction of the Jeanne d'Arc in Brest produced by the students of the Master 1 "Cultural history of science and technology, digital humanities and mediation" of the François Viète Centre (University of Western Brittany) on the occasion of the European Heritage Days in September 2019, based on the photographic albums of the Jeanne d'Arc (albums that can be consulted at the SHD in Brest, reference: 9 Fi 1/76-77)
The spirit of adventure, the thirst for knowledge and the experience of explorers, seafarers and ship designers has given rise to an exceptional maritime culture in Brest, which can be seen in the past as well as the future. A pictorial journey through 3 centuries of innovation.
Since 1982, the Historical Service has been located at 4, rue Commandant-Malbert, at the entrance to the commercial port and near the arsenal. It occupies the second floor of this building and most of the lower floor where the archives and library, which cover almost 13 km, are kept in 13 shops.
Since the 17th century, the port of Brest has been the major port of war for the Ponant squadrons. Since the 1970s, it has been devoted primarily to nuclear deterrence, using the submarines of the Strategic Oceanic Force (FOST) and their naval, aeronaval and industrial environment. The archives of the 2nd Maritime Prefecture, the directorates, the ships at sea and naval aviation cover the entire Atlantic. In addition, there are the archives of the Navy overseas in New Caledonia, the West Indies and French Guiana, French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa, the Pacific, and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.
Consultation of the archives allows you to explore and discover the maritime memory of Brest from the 17th century to the present day.
Resources available to all
Located in the commercial port, the service has a reading room with 25 seats and premises that allow it to receive groups, especially school groups. It has an educational service run by a relay teacher who receives classes and teachers.
In partnership with the network of Brest municipal libraries, the Musée National de la Marine in Brest, the University of Western Brittany and the Centre de Recherche Bretonne et Celtique, it organises an annual series of conferences, the "Rendez-vous Maritimes".
The SHD regularly organises exhibitions based on the archives and old works it holds.
Touch screens installed in the reading room allow consultation of the collections digitised by the department, including the collection of Lieutenant-Colonel Maurice Laureau (12 S) on the First World War, the collection of Maurice Rollet de l'Isle, a naval hydrographic engineer at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries (24 S), several works by the Académie de Marine, the prison registers, the registers of naval officers, and the photographic albums of several naval vessels.
The Naval Archives Centre of the Atlantic Maritime District
The mission of the SHD in Brest is to collect, classify, conserve, communicate to the public and promote the archives produced by the services of the Atlantic maritime region (2nd Maritime Region), the naval and air and sea forces and the ships located within the perimeter of the Atlantic maritime region.
The most remarkable collections are the following:
- Archives of the Navy command in Brest from the 17th century to the present day (series A and series E)
- Archives of crews and ships: crew rolls, logbooks and navigation logs, end-of-command reports (series C and 4 E)
- Fonds de l'arsenal maritime et des chantiers navals militaires de Brest, notably all the registers of naval personnel attached to the port of Brest since the 17th century (series 3 E, 1 L, 1 M and 6 M)
- Fonds du Service de santé du port de Brest (since 1682)
- Fonds des prises et réquisitions des bâtiments, corsaires (series Q)
- Engineering Department fonds: plans of military buildings under the authority of the Engineering Department
- Fonds des divers quartiers maritimes de l'arrondissement maritime de Brest: matricules of seafarers, matricules of vessels, armament rolls and disarmament of vessels (series P)
- Prison fund: matricular registers opened in 1749, listing nearly 70,000 convicts (series 2 O - digitised registers 2 O 1-39 which can be consulted on the CRBC/digital library/https://bibnumcrbc.huma-num.fr website)
- Iconographic collections: DCNS collection (9 Fi) consisting in particular of more than 250 photographic albums of naval vessels built at the Brest arsenal since 1948, including the Jeanne d'Arc; other iconographic collections of disarmed vessels (series U)
- Continuous series (in perpetual growth): deposits from the Préfecture Maritime and all the units of the French Navy located in the maritime district.
Discover the letter of the educational service of the SHD of Brest
- Borrowable exhibitions
- Illumination of the marine collections of the SHD in Brest from the 17th century to the present day (15 kakemonos and exhibition catalogue)
- The Académie de Marine, knowledge and learning: the "Internet" of the 18th century (20 kakemonos)
- In the footsteps of Lapérouse (11 posters)
- Writing as a naval officer (12 posters and exhibition catalogue)
- The Naval Academy
- The prison and the convicts
- The Lapérouse expedition
- The Americans in Brest in 1917-1918
Two educational publications for teachers
- Teaching Defence in Brest
- The Maritime Prefect in Brest
- 250th anniversary of the Royal Naval Academy of Brest (1769-2019)
A specialised library
The origins of the department's library date back to the creation of the Académie de Marine founded in Brest in 1752 by letters patent from Louis XV. It is a library specialising in maritime history, the history of the navies of war, commerce, fishing and pleasure craft. It has a particularly rich heritage dealing with shipbuilding as well as the discoveries made during the great scientific expeditions that left from Brest, including many other subjects such as theology, astronomy, architecture, geography, history and medicine. In this respect, we should mention the existence of the former library of the health service of the port of Brest with the collection of the Naval Medical School (from the Army Training Hospital). The Brest library is enriched each year by several hundred works.
The team consists of 13 people.
The reading room welcomes more than 400 readers per year, who carry out approximately 2,000 working sessions.
Last modification on 11/05/2023