The Centre d’histoire sociale du 20ème siècle (Center of 20th Century Social History) is a joint research unit between the Université Paris 1 and the CNRS (UMR 8058.) It was founded in 1966-1967 by Jean Maitron, with the support of Ernest Labrousse. Then, it was located in a small office at 16, rue de la Sorbonne. It was then called the Centre d’histoire du syndicalisme (Center of History of the Labour Movement). One of the main distinguishing features of the center was the participation, from the beginnings, of the principal French Union Confederations (CFDT, CGT, CGT-FO, FEN and CNPF) to its board. This choice shows our desire to explore history, open to the collaboration with or confrontation with social movement figures. Ours is not an activist history, but one which has been enriched by this contact with activism. For forty years now we have maintained this ethic of history. The Center continues to work in connection with unions and, now, with a number of social and political forces, from associations to social or urban public powers, always with the same concern for mutual understanding with neither concessions nor compromises.

The research programs it is carrying out, as an UMR (2010-2014) show the diversity of its orientations, all nonetheless linked through Social History. The State in Action, forms of socialization and social movements (frameworks, figures, and horizons,) systems of representation (in politics, in different systems), how to govern and live in a contemporary city – these form the four primary research topics of our program. Visitors of our website will see how the Center has followed, even initiated, many paths of innovative research, concerning, among other things, the relationship between individuals and the community, social groups and the structure and animation of society, practices, problems, and memory issues relating to labor, the social history of politics, the history of body, gender, and sexuality, migratory politics, city imagery, cultural history as social history of representations, and comparatism.

Finally, the Center has an important collection of archives and documentation which testifies to the transversality of the research carried out in its laboratory and participated in by its exterior associates. In this way, it provides the public with a large library of social history, especially notable for its wealth of unpublished research (masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations,) and also for the many archival documents deposited by various activists and organizations. We are working towards modernizing these resources by digitizing our library and creating computer databases. We also work to cooperate with other centers of Social History archives.


Director : Michel Pigenet


Adress :

Centre d’histoire sociale du XXe siècle (Université Paris 1/CNRS)

9, rue Malher

75004 Paris


Web site :


Secrétariat : Thérèse Lortolary

Tél. : 01 44 78 33 84

E-mail :


Library : Rossana Vaccaro

Tél. : 01 44 78 33 87

E-mail :