Fichés: The History of Photography and Identification in France

A fascinating new exhibit at the National Archives of France focuses on the history and evolution of police photography and the advent of identification cards from the Second Empire to the 1960s.  Police files and ID cards on everyone from anonymous drug convicts to leading artists and public figures from Josephine Baker to Adolph Hitler weave an intriguing thread through time, in the form of 2,300 standard issue documents collected by the Commune de Paris.  Official document stamps reveal the extreme terms applied to figures throughout time; Jean Cocteau is hilariously labeled an ‘anarchiste;’ drug offender ID files are prominently labeled with the drug of choice, the words ‘Opium’ and ‘Cocaïne’ stamped in large letters across the top of many a dossier.

Fichés: Photographie and Identification du Second Empire aux années 1960 is open through 23 January 2012, at the Archives Nationale de France in Le Marais.

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