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Organization of archives

The written manuscripts of the MEP are currently organized as follows:

A first set of the old archives of 1303 volumes (from 1660 to 1940) contains bound volumes of letters of the missionaries, classified according to missions or themes (ex: Seminary, travels, procure of Rome, etc.) and according to chronological order.
Most of the records have an analytical table made by Father Launay which describes each letter contained in the volume.

A second set, mainly of letters, unbound, are arranged alphabetically by the name of missionary and his mission.

At present the are 540 meters of documents in the archives.

1 - Set of the old archives of 1303 volumes
2 - Set mainly of letters unbound

Distribution of the archives according to century

These documents date mainly from the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Contents of archives

Archives are witnesses of the history of the Society of the Missions Étrangères de Paris  and contain mainly :

Historical documents

Decrees from Rome, requests to send bishops to the far East, royal decrees, rules and regulations of the Seminary of the Missions Étrangères de Paris

1 - Number 92 : rules and regulations of Seminary XVIIIème century
2 - Number 7097 : copy of letters patent of Louis XIV (1775).


The reports of the apostolic vicars

Volume 73 : rapport du Conseil sur les missions de Cochinchine et du Tonkin (1851).The reports of the apostolic vicars sent to the superiors of Paris and procurators of Macao : It concerns the life of the Christian communities, the results obtained, the problems to be solved and the difficulties faced. A great importance is given to the financial problems, management of funds for the mission life and the livelihood of the missionaries.


Number 73 : request  of superiors of Paris about missions of Cochinchine and Tonkin (1851).

The correspondence of the bishops with the Holy See

The correspondence of the bishops with the Holy See, written in Latin: It enumerates the apostolic activities of each diocese. The bishops often ask the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith to provide answers to doctrinal problems and canonical questions. Disputes concerning rites are often raised.


Number 117 : Answers of Sacrée Congrégation de l'Inquisition about christians and Malabar people in India (XVIIème century)

Letters of missionaries

Letters of missionaries addressed to their families or to the superiors of Paris: To the latter the missionaries often speak of their life, their missionary work or their financial needs, but very often they describe the country where they live, the events that take place, the people they meet with their customs and traditions, the languages they need to learn: some of them undertake the task of compiling dictionaries and grammars.

1 - Number 1160 : sanskrit dictionary with notes of F. Dallet (1829-1878, missionary in India) (1853).
2 - Number 621 : Letter of F. Usureau (1860-1894, missionary of China) to his family (4 novembre 1885).
3 - Cote 612 : Illustrated diary of Mgr Demange (1875-1938, missionary of Korea (1911-1920).