Photos of the scuttling of the fleet, maps of the shipyard… These remarkable donations made to the municipal archives of La Seyne

You may have, in boxes or in an attic, old documents that may be of interest to the municipal archives service. Regularly, the latter indeed receives donations from individuals or associations, which he treasures and digitizes little by little, so that everyone can have access to them via the website recently put online. This is the case of the donation made by Marie-France Fiol, former school principal at La Seyne, who sent around fifty photos of the scuttling of the fleet in Toulon. But not only.

Explanations with Alan Virot, head of the municipal archives service.

How is this batch of photos of the scuttling of the fleet in Toulon out of the ordinary?

Many photos of this event circulate but the donation made by Mme Fiol is the most comprehensive we’ve seen so far. It includes about fifty photos, most of which are 8.5cm x 6cm, the others are 11cm x 7.5cm (these are the usual formats of the time). We see the boats from which emerge large plumes of smoke, others are sinking. On almost all of the images, the names of the ships are written on the back (a handful, however, are not identified). It is a fine collection, rich in numbers, and they are originals (so not reproductions) but not unique. I have already seen some of these photos in other funds.

Do we know where these photos come from?

We just know that Mme Fiol got them from his father. It is assumed that they are part of a series of photos taken at the time of the event and sold in several copies as “souvenirs”. However, it remains interesting because it helps to document this page of history. This can bring additional elements to people who are interested in the subject.

What condition are these photos in and how do you store them?

Some are a little warped because they must have taken the humidity at some point, but they are in good condition. We put them all in protective storage bags, which are made of a plastic that will never degrade or damage the photos.

And these pockets are themselves placed in a specific folder in neutral cardboard, anti-mold and anti-dust, where they can remain for years without deteriorating.

How can the public access it?

All these photos have been scanned in high definition, which also allows you to zoom in to find any details. Everyone can therefore view them on our website, and possibly provide additional information, for example on unidentified boats.

The gift of Did Fiol include other documents?

Yes, she gave us a souvenir album of a hundred photos of the summer camps of the little Seynois in Presles (Isère), from 1968 to 1984 (1). We see the daily life of the catering staff, whom we have very rarely seen, if ever (unlike the photos of the children which have been kept by the families). They are employees of the school catering of the city who went with the colonies to prepare the meals, and who photographed themselves. The images are captioned, the first names are indicated and we are working to recover their surname. For us, it’s interesting because it changes the institutional documents that we are used to dealing with. It is a rare testimony that fits with our mission which is, first of all, to preserve the documentary productions of the municipal services, but we are also interested in the private archives which concern our territory.

Are shipyard archives also available online?

Of course, there are some among the hundreds of digitized old postcards. And we will soon be putting online films shot between 1949 and 1987, in black and white, in color, with sound or silent. Many were given to us by the Sillages association, which disappeared in the early 2000s. This is in addition to the background of 50 linear meters of documents that we already have on the construction sites, part of which was given to us in 2019 by the Shipbuilding Resource Center.

1. This album was entrusted to Mme Fiol by Mme Josette Bertolucci (Jaubert by her maiden name).

Photos of the scuttling of the fleet, maps of the shipyard… These remarkable donations made to the municipal archives of La Seyne