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Paris Office Card Index

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Introduction

Employees working in the Paris Office of Library and Archives Canada (LAC, then the Public Archives of Canada) created and added to the Paris Office Card Index (POCI) during the period from 1905 to 1950. The employees used the POCI to keep track of the documents of Canadian interest that they found in various French archives and transcribed. Transcribing constituted a means of creating copies before the use of microfilm.

The cards in the POCI constitute a chronological list of transcribed documents of Canadian interest in France.  The POCI is organized by date of creation of the documents and spans the period from 1439 to 1897.  Most of the cards, however, refer to documents created during the period from 1650 to 1765.  A small alphabetical index accompanies the POCI.

The POCI is not absolutely comprehensive; it does not refer to every document of French provenance (transcribed or original) now in the holdings of Library and Archives Canada.  This is because LAC continued to acquire documents of French provenance after closing the POCI. Still, the POCI remains a very powerful tool for anyone trying to retrieve documents of French provenance.

The transcribed documents referred to by the POCI are located in various archival fonds within the collection of LAC. Some of these fonds are:

  • -Fonds des Colonies (MG1)
  • -Fonds de la Marine (MG2)
  • -Fonds de la Bibliothèque nationale de France (MG7-I)
  • -Several French Departmental Archives (MG6).


Using the POCI

The cards in the POCI are hand-written.  They are filed chronologically by date and provide the following information:

  • -Title of the document
  • -Sometimes a summary of the document (esp. letters)
  • -Archival reference of the document

Researchers will find the POCI very useful when all they have to go on is the date of the document. In certain cases, the POCI will allow the researcher to track down different copies of the same document.

Researchers will sometimes find it difficult to properly identify or interpret the archival reference information on the cards. In part, this difficulty derives from the fact that the POCI uses diverse and arcane abbreviations when referring to specific archival fonds and series – see the examples below with their current LAC archival reference number between brackets:

  • -Col. ou Colonies=Fonds des Colonies (MG1); the cards indicate the relevant series: C11A, F3, etc. (MG1-C11A, MG1-F3, etc.).
  • -D.F.C.=Dépôt des fortifications des colonies (MG1-DFC)
  • -Marine=Fonds de la Marine (MG2), with the series identifier: B2, B3, etc. (MG2-B2, MG2-B3, etc.)
  • -Rochefort=Service historique de la marine à Rochefort (MG6-C1)
  • -Bib. Nat.=Bibliothèque nationale de France (MG7-I), with sometimes the mention N.A.F., i.e. Nouvelles acquisitions françaises
  • -Aff.étrangères=Fonds du ministère des Affaires étrangères (MG5)

Once a card in the POCI has provided the archival reference to the fonds and/or series, it will then provide the container (volume) number and the page (folio) number of the document in question. See the examples below:

It should be noted that sometimes the cards of the POCI bear references with the letter F that supposedly indicate the location of the documents in Ottawa.  Researchers should ignore this specific type of reference information since it is now obsolete.  Researchers should focus on the French archival references that the cards provide.

Researchers can find current archival references to these documents with our online research tool Archives Search.

Finally, researchers should note the staff members of the Paris Office entered information on the cards in French.


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