County Council Ille-et-Vilaine is one of four counties in Brittany, North-West France, based in the town of Rennes. The authority has a wide scope of activities which include: infrastructures, social affairs, environment and waste management, economic development and culture. In the cultural field, the County Council is responsible for the management of the archives, libraries and heritage.
The “Archives Départementales” preserve the written record of Ille-et-Vilaine.and like all the other French counties’ archives, they were established at the time of the French Revolution. Originally consisting of documents from the Ancien Regime administrations (done away with at the end of the 18th century) along with archives confiscated from the clergy and emigrés. The Ille-et-Vilaine archives have continued to grow ever since, with public administrative documents and private archives adding to its collection.
Following decentralisation legislation, they became a department of the County Council in 1986 and took on a role combining administration, science and culture. Today, the Ille-et-Vilaine Archives are a public service, open to all and free of charge. They are housed in a contemporary building offering total space of 17,000 sqm, the work of architect Jean-Marc Ibos.
There are four main missions of the Archives: collection, conservation, classification and communication, known as the 4 C’s:
The Archives select which archive material generated by administrations and public bodies should be preserved for posterity. They also take in private archives from non-profit associations, businesses and private individuals.
In addition to restoring damaged documents, archivists and restorers ’work is aimed mainly at preventing any risk of deterioration.
Microfilming and digitising documents which have become fragile due to age or frequent consultation is a way of ensuring they can be read by future generations.
The staff of the Archives conduct stringent sorting and classification operations to put together research resources (inventories, directories, files, databases and so on): these are vital to provide guidance to readers.
Communication and use:
The Archives make properly classified archives available to the public in a reading room. Researchers and students can consult the sources for historical research, while private individuals and administrations can find documents supplying proofs of their rights.
Genealogists and amateur historians can find out about their roots and local history. Exhibitions, an education department and publications also help to promote the heritage of Ille-et-Vilaine.
Our involvement in the SHARE Project
The participation of the County Council of Ille-et-Vilaine in the SHARE Project takes place mainly through the transfer of methods of archiving rural culture & heritage to the other partners, including using digital techniques, video, sound & data-capture to preserve these for current & future generations.
The County Council is particularly involved in the Work Package 1 “Raised awareness and appreciation of rural heritage” by leading actions aimed at developing a common approach to recording & archiving rural culture heritage and making the best use of new technology drawing on other partner’s methods and sharing the project results widely.
Concretely, the County Council’s intervention is based on a specific project of industrial heritage safeguarding regarding granite industry. In the North-East of Ille-et-Vilaine territory indeed, the area of Louvigné-du-Désert has faced the decline of granite industry which was a major economic activity few decades ago.
The “Archives départementales” decided to set up a program of actions to safeguard and enhance the heritage derived from granite industry (tools, skills and techniques but also popular culture and social background regarding granite exploitation), to build back the territory’s identity and to revitalize the area by relying on its industrial, natural and cultural resources. This program is based on 3 major axes :
1. Initiate a large scale campaign of gathering oral testimonials
The purpose is to give voice to those who have made this industry (stonecutters, apprentices, local elected officials, geologist, sculptors…) to highlight their work for the young generations, and to diversify the materials collected.
2. Bridge the digital divide by using information technologies
A GPS route will be delivered and an interactive kiosk will be set up in Louvigné’s town Hall.
3. Restore this heritage throughout the territory by organizing touring exhibitions
Several exhibitions and lectures are planed, including an exhibition dealing with the history of the major granite cooperative which is the subject of a monograph too. 10 portraits of granite workers will be dispatched into a “trail of memories”.
From this work, a transnational methodology for collecting testimonies will be established. The European partners will observe the implementation and the results of all these concrete actions of rural heritage enhancement, to inspire their own projects