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The Centre d’histoire sociale des mondes contemporains (Contemporary Worlds Social History Centre, CHS) is a joint research unit (UMR 8058) between the Université Paris 1 and the CNRS. It was founded in 1966 by Jean Maitron, with the support of Ernest Labrousse. At the time, it was located in a small office at 16 rue de la Sorbonne. It was then called the Centre d’histoire du syndicalisme (Labour Movement History Centre). From the beginning, one of its main distinguishing features was that French trade unions (CFDT, CGT, CGT-FO, FEN and CNPF) sat on its board. The Centre continues to work in connection with trade unions and, now, with a number of social and political forces, from associations to social partners and local government, always with the same concern for mutual understanding.


Social history constitutes the laboratory’s cornerstone. Its original areas of research focused on labour and workers’ history in France in the 19th and 20th century. They were linked to a remarkable publishing undertaking, the Maitron, a biographical and international dictionary of social movements, which today totals more than 190,000 entries. Over the years, the CHS’ initial remit has been widened to encompass the social, cultural and political history of urban societies and labour movements. Since the 1990s, it has studied in depth the question of territories and has rejuvenated heritage and cultural history on the one hand, and colonial and postcolonial history on the other. This UMR is also recognised as a social intervention laboratory offering expertise, research promotion and dissemination to a wider audience.


Four research directions form the basis of the laboratory’s scientific work :

-       Powers, counter-powers, political commitments and conflicts
-       Environment, cities and urban societies
-       Work, health and leisure
-       Cultural societies, media exposure, mediations and dissemination

Finally, the Centre has an important collection of archives and documentation. It provides the public with an extensive library on social history, especially notable for its wealth of unpublished research (masters’ theses and PhDs) and also for the many archival documents deposited by various activists and organisations.

Since September 2019, the CHS library has joined the Grand équipement documentaire on the Condorcet Campus in Aubervilliers.



Director : Emmanuel Bellanger

Deputy Director : Isabelle Lespinet-Moret


Adress :

Centre d’histoire sociale des mondes contemporains

Campus Condorcet

Bâtiment de recherche sud (aile sud), 4e étage

5, Cours des Humanités

93322 Aubervilliers


Web site :


Responsable administrative : Camille Bourdielle

Tél. : +33 1 88 12 04 57

E-mail :


Library : Rossana Vaccaro

Tél. : +33 1 55 93 93 65

E-mail :