Police archives

The history of the police is obviously written from the archives of police institutions, but not only that. Les liens que la police entretient avec tous les aspects de la vie en société imposent de compléter l’étude par d’autres archives qui peuvent évoquer indirectement la police.When the police did not yet exist as an autonomous institution,, which is the casein many countries to 19th and even 20th siècles, t is necessary to "create" the police archive from the neighbouring series of institutions relatives: series of municipal archives, judicial archives, etc. Conversely, police archives are a formidable reservoir of information for a multitude of non-police historical subjects and have often been used for this purpose In either case, l’the story must be extremely careful, because the police archive is often falsely obvious. It gives the illusion of capturing a reality which is in fact only its truncated, reconstituted version, mise en mots par l’institution policière dans un but bien précis. 

Police archives also have the characteristic of not being systematically preserved. Whole sections of police records have been destroyed, either because their content was sensitive, or more often, because no one imagined the value of keeping papers from ordinary practice, often deemed insignificant. As a result, the police archive is often reduced to isolated documents, three-quarters empty files, wreckages of missing series. Must therefore above all, know the institutional context of their creation, carefully weigh the representativeness of these pieces and question the reasons for their conservation, their loss and their dispersalBy its nature, the police archive can also implicate individuals or families by revealing their privacy or their actions, la communication peut donc en être difficile et leur usage réclame quelques précautions.The detour through other archives is therefore often necessary. and the cross-referencing of essential sources 

There is considerable diversity of police archives, ranging from texts to images, including oral archives and figures.. Certain archives are more specific to police work: minutes, reports, files and folders, statements , cases, registers, tables,"memoirs" and others tools available to the user.  The history of these documents provides a great deal of information on the development of police work and constitutes an essential prerequisite for the study of their content.. Beyond the anecdotes, segments of life or events reported by these archives, it is the choices of police attention that are revealed, as well as the development of police tools that appear, as well as their evolution. The police archive never tells the whole story, not even what should be recorded according to the instructions received. EShe only says what the police choose to say, in its often stereotypical way, imbued with specific language uses. The delinquency and crime figures produced by the police, in particular, are more revealing of the choices of police activity than of the reality of criminal activities. Even within police activity, archives only keep what individuals and the institution decide to transcribe. The police archive only says what the police wants it to say, she does notsay nothing that does not do the police nor what she does but chooses not to transcribe, in a profession characterized by strong discretionary power.

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