What are our archives?

SNCF archives cover the history of railways in France from the initial agreements, the creation of the network, up to the present day. They also provide insights into the activities of the Group in France and abroad, as well as the operational management of infrastructure, train operations, and stations.

The archives of the SNCF Group are accessible through our three entities:

The National Center for Historical Archives at Le Mans (CNAH):

It houses a collection of documents, posters, and objects that provide insights into technical aspects, operations, infrastructure, rolling stock, architecture, commercial activities, and advertising.

You can find the following there:

  • Board of Directors files dating back to 1938
  • Internal regulatory texts
  • Archives from departments responsible for budgetary and financial matters, personnel policies, and commercial activities, along with a valuable collection of posters and tourist brochures
  • Files from departments responsible for Equipment, Rolling Stock, and Transport, dating back to the era of the former railway companies
  • Plans for rolling stock, stations, and engineering structures
  • Nearly 1,600 serial publications, with issues spanning from 1842 to the present. These publications include internal magazines (Bulletin PLM, Le PO illustré, Notre Métier, Notre Trafic, etc.), union publications, numerous foreign-language journals, railroad history journals, and modeling magazines
  • A photographic collection consisting of postcards, lithographs, photographs, and glass plates dating before 1945
  • A significant number of railway-related objects, including 400 locomotive crests, regulator watches, old railway employee badges, costumes, and more.

The Centre for National Historical Archives of Railway Personnel in Béziers (CNAP), Genealogical Sources

Interested in learning more about the history of railway employees?

The Centre for National Historical Archives of Railway Personnel in Béziers preserves the records of railway employees who have contributed to shaping the railway professions and building what SNCF is today. It holds career files, pension records, and personnel registers for over 800,000 railway workers, including:

  • Employees of the former railway companies that were part of the SNCF (East, Alsace-Lorraine, North, West-State, Paris-Orléans, then Paris-Orléans-Midi, Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée)
  • SNCF personnel (permanent staff, contract workers, senior executives)
  • Personnel from North African networks

Copyright JJ d'Angelo

The SARDO Media Library, located in La Plaine Saint-Denis

The SARDO Media Library serves as the visual and audiovisual memory, both historical and contemporary, of our company, and it promotes the image of SNCF by responding to requests from the film, television, and other media industries. It provides:

  • A photographic collection from 1945 to the present: approximately 500,000 color and black-and-white photographs.
  • 7,500 films dating back to the 1930s and thematic videos (a collection of images) since 1990.
  • 1,400 vintage railway sounds, including train passbys, sound signals, horns, and more. The soundscape of the railway world has also played a role in preserving SNCF’s memory and history.

The SARDO (Service Archives Documentation SNCF) archives in numbers:

  • 200,000 linear meters of shelving.
  • 40,000 linear meters of paper documents.
  • 8,000 maps and plans.
  • 1,400 posters.
  • 7,500 films.
  • 500,000 photographs.
  • 1,400 vintage railway sounds.

These numbers provide an overview of the extensive archival holdings maintained by the SARDO.