The law of 5 Brumaire Year V (26 October 1796) created the Departmental Archives in each department's capital for the benefit of citizens in search of their rights and the administrative and judicial departments whose documents they collect. Today, they still fulfil this role and they jointly carry out missions relating to an administrative department and a cultural and scientific department.
In the overseas territories, their creation came later. Guadeloupe's Departmental Archives were officially created in 1951, following the departmentalisation law of 19 March 1946, which established the four "old" colonies (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana and Reunion Island) as overseas departments. At that time, the Departmental Archives were overseen by the prefecture's general secretariat.
In 1986, following the decentralisation laws, the Departmental Archives were transferred to the Departmental Council. The director nevertheless remained a state official serving the Department.
Lastly, by way of a 1993 decree, and following an agreement between the Department and the BNF, the Departmental Archives handle publishers and printers' legal deposits throughout the department.
The gathering of public and private archives in all form - whether this heritage is written, printed, audiovisual, sound, cartographic or even photographic, not to mention digital documents - has been enriching the department's collective memory for three centuries.
After it has been classified and provided with inventories, this archival heritage, which has been brought to the attention of all, contributes to a better understanding of the history of Guadeloupe as well as its promotion through exhibitions, events (educational department) and publications.