Record Management in France, 1935–1944
German military rule,while Marshal Philippe Pétain governed the remain-ing area,known as Vichy France.Shortly after France’s defeat,René Car-mille suggested establishing a mobilization register,using punched cards,toprepare for the possible mobilization oftwo hundred thousand men inaddition to the hundred thousand permitted under the terms ofthearmistice.This proposal was implemented over the following two years.Butthe scope ofthe register that was set up went beyond its original stated pur-pose:it was to become a national register enabling the state to monitor itscitizens—for better or for worse.The huge punched-card systems established in the 1930s and after,likethe French mobilization register and the social security registers in theUnited States,enabled the state to establish direct contact with the individ-ual.This capability is peculiar to modern mass society.However,historiansoftechnology—indeed,historians in general—have shown little interest inthese bureaucratic systems.
Published studies ofvarious office technolo-gies in the period before 1945 have examined the histories ofthe main pro-ducers in the United States,Great Britain,and Germany,though France hasattracted less scholarly attention.
In addition,several recent studies haveanalyzed the interplay between machine producers and their various appli-cations as the technologies were developed,but so far most have focused onthe introduction ofoffice machines in the period before the First WorldWar.
In contrast,the history ofthe French army’s punched-card applica-tions after 1931,and ofthe establishment ofa national register in Vichy
1.An exception is the various registers in Nazi Germany.See Lars Heide,“IBM Tech-nology and the Third Reich,”in
Genocide: Cases,Comparisons and Contemporary De-bates
,ed.Steven L.B.Jensen (Copenhagen,2003),283–92.2.John Connolly,
A History ofComputing in Europe
ICL: A Business and Technical History
Moderne Rechenkünstler: Die Industrialisierung der Rechentechnik in Deutschland
Before the Computer: IBM,NCR,Burroughs,and Remington Rand and the Industry They Created,1865–1956
Building IBM: Shaping an Industry and Its Technology
Chroniques de la Compagnie IBM France
(Paris,1988);Pierre-Eric Mounier-Kuhn,“Bull:A World-Wide Company Born in Europe,”
Annals of the History ofComputing
11 (1989):279–97.3.JoAnne Yates,
Control through Communication: The Rise ofSystem in American Management
(Baltimore,1989);Lars Heide,“Shaping a Technology:American PunchedCard Systems 1880–1914,”
IEEE Annals ofthe History ofComputing
19 (1997):28–41.Forstudies with a wider scope with respect to period and application,see Arthur L.Norberg,“High-Technology Calculation in the Early 20th Century:Punched Card Machinery inBusiness and Government,”
History and Technology
31 (1990):753–79;JoAnne Yates,“Co-Evolution ofInformation-Processing Technology and Use:Interaction Between theLife Insurance and Tabulating Industries,”
Business History Review
67 (1993):1–51;JoAnne Yates,“Business Use ofInformation and Technology during the Industrial Age,”in
A Nation Transformed by Information
,ed.Alfred D.Chandler and James W.Cortada(New York,2000),107–35.