Access, Secrecy, and the Vichy Archives
Dr Alexandra Steinligt (Past & Present Fellow)
18 March 2019
The history of Vichy France is more than hotly debated. For decades, it has been present in French public discourse, often masking contemporary political rivalries and tensions. Essentially, the history of Vichy France has been written and re-written over the past 80 years.
But what is the history of Vichy, and where is it? In what archives, what documents and what minds? Do certain people have more authority to discuss it than others? Do certain people have more access? How do they gather the facts? How do they interpret them?
In a fascinating paper, Dr Alexandra Steinlight, a Past & Present fellow at the IHR, goes back to the roots of Vichy history. Not so much the events, but the postwar collection of archival materials and their interpretation in the immediate and long-term post-war decades. She closely examines the tensions and debates of historians, historical actors and politicians and exposes the methods but also emotions behind the creation of Vichy history. More broadly, the story of how history gets written is told amidst the layers of secrecy, access and authority which ultimately shape the history we are told.
For more information on Alexandra Steinlight and her work, see her IHR webpage where she is currently a Past & Present Fellow. She obtained her doctorate from NYU. We can’t wait for the book to come out!