Direction :
Emmanuel Bellanger (DU)
Isabelle Lespinet-Moret (DA)


The Centre d’histoire sociale des mondes contemporains (CHS) was founded in 1966/1967 by Jean Maitron, with support from Ernest Labrousse. Initially called the Centre d’histoire du syndicalisme (Centre for Labour History), the Centre was unique in involving the main French labour unions, even including them in its Board of Directors. This choice illustrated a way of researching history that was open to scientific cooperation and debate with actors from the labour movement, and was distinct from activist history, but enriched by these exchanges. While these arrangements have changed, our conception of history remains unchanged. Thus, the Centre continues to work not only with labour unions, but also with many organisations and institutions covering the vast field of social, cultural or urban public policies. The Centre has evolved substantially over time. Its permanent staff has gradually grown in size, and it welcomes associate and guest researchers, as well as PhD students, attesting to the Centre’s appeal as a research laboratory. The Centre’s five-year programme (2014-2018) reflects the diversification of the issues we deal with. Our three main research units all belong in the field of social history, addressing : politics in contemporary societies, representations, and the territories of the contemporary city. These research perspectives are similar in that they all focus on today’s political and social issues, working to trace these topics back to their origins and to grasp the roles and viewpoints of various kinds of actors, citizens and groups. The Centre is also an important location for archives and documentation that contribute to its transversal research approach and its reputation. By creating image databases and implementing an active cooperation policy, both nationally and internationally, the Centre has become a leading research laboratory in the digital revolution in the social and human sciences (SHS). Several projects and programmes are attached to CHS : • Matrice, an Equipment of Excellence focusing on trans-Atlantic, transdisciplinary studies and the interconnections between individual memory and social memory • The DYNAMITE Labex (Laboratory of Excellence), dealing with territorial and spatial dynamics around four focus areas : environment, the city, development and exchanges • Maitron – Dictionnaire biographique, mouvement ouvrier, mouvement social, a biographical dictionary of the labour movement • Several other projects backed by the French State, the Île-de-France region, the City of Paris, or Caisse de Dépôts (CDC).
The Jean-Maitron Library’s collection is specialised in the social history of the 20th and 21st centuries (work, social movements, labour unions, immigration, gender, teaching, urban and cultural history). This collection has been built up alongside the research and teaching activities of CHS. It continues to be enriched based on the research units defined in the five-year plan for 2014-2018, notably thanks to numerous donations from organisations and individuals. The collection includes 16,000 monographs, including a collection of 2,850 student research dissertations defended in French universities since 1947 (including theses and dissertations from DES, DEA, maîtrise and Masters’ programmes). It also holds nearly 2,000 periodicals and brochures, plus proceedings from political and union conventions, as well as archives from militants, political organisations and labour unions.

References for these documents are available via the University of Paris I catalogue ( and Sudoc ( for monographs and periodicals. For other documents, please consult the CHS website ( The full text of some master’s and maîtrise dissertations can be consulted via the DUMAS database (http://dumas. and several inventories of archives are available in the CALAMES database ( Electronic resources can be consulted via the digital space of the CHS website, including an image library, virtual expos, bibliographies and thematic databases. Also available via the CHS website : • a blog dedicated to publications by researchers at the Centre ( ; • videos written and produced by CHS, in collaboration with Médiapart, and dedicated to current topics viewed from the perspective of historians and researchers from other fields ( php ?rubrique105).

To consult archive collections or for any other information related to documentation, please contact the library curator : Rossana Vaccaro (email :
hours monday 10am-7pm t