The NAC catalogue offers two ways of accessing the colonial holdings: You can do a simple title search, ie type a word or combination of words which you expect to find in the title of files that are of interest to you. This way of access is simple but does usually not yield all the files of relevance to your research topic. A more promising way may be to do a search according to the categories of the Boudet Classification System.
The Boudet Classification System made its appearance in 1918, was revised in 1935 and published by Paul Boudet in 1945 as the Manuel de l’Archiviste. This classification system is still utilised for documents of the French colonial period archives in repositories in Aix-en-Provence (France), Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Phnom Penh.
The Boudet Classification System is an open system, which means that one could add new classifications when the need arose. It is a multileveled system beginning with 25 broad subject areas designated by a letter of the alphabet, as follows:
A. ACTES OFFICIELS
B. CORRESPONDANCES GÉNÉRALES
D. ADMINISTRATION GÉNÉRALE
E. ADMINISTRATION PROVINCIALE
F. AFFAIRES POLITIQUES
H. TRAVAUX PUBLICS
J. CHEMINS DE FER – TRANSPORTS TERRESTRES ET AERIENS
K. POSTES, TÉLÉGRAPHES ET TÉLÉPHONES
L. COMMERCE – INDUSTRIE – TOURISME
M. TRAVAIL – COLONISATION – RÉGIME FONCIER
N. AGRICULTURE ET FORÊTS
P. MARINE DE GUERRE
Q. AFFAIRES MILITAIRES
R. INSTRUCTION PUBLIQUE. – SCIENCES ET ARTS
S. SERVICES SANITAIRES ET ASSISTANCE PUBLIQUE
U. DOUANES ET REGIS – CONTRIBUTIONS INDIRECTES
V. ARCHIVES ET BIBLIOTHÈQUES
X. AFFAIRES DIVERSES
Y. PAPIERS EMANANT DES PARTICULIERS
Z. COPIES DE DOCUMENTS INTERESSANT L’HISTORIE DE L’INDOCHINE
Each one of these is broken down into more specific groups, then each of these broken down once again. For example:
C.0 PERSONNEL – STATUTS – GENERALITES
01 Recrutement ; condition de recrutement ; âge, diplômes, service militaire, contrats (réglementation).
011 Nominations; candidatures; contrats
012 Avancements et rétrogradations
02 Avancement, rétrogradation – peines disciplinaires. conseils d’enquêtes.
021 Propositions, nominations pour avancement
022 Avancements; rétrogradations; peines disciplinaires
Each file in the colonial holdings has been allocated one or several classifications. Since there are around 1600 headings in the Boudet System, including all sub-classifications, you are often able to pinpoint relevant documents with higher precision than with a title word search. Some of the sub-classifications may actually correspond more or less to your research topic, or some aspects of it, in which case a search according to the Boudet System will be particularly promising.
We therefore recommend you take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the structure of the Boudet System before moving on to the catalogue. You may do so by browsing through the broad subject area of interest to you as well as its respective sub-classifications (add link to classification table). Alternatively, you may want to browse through the index (add link to index), which contains all classifications and sub-classifications of the 25 subject areas in alphabetical order.
Once you have identified promising categories, you will be able to select them in the online catalogue and obtain lists of relevant documents.