Summary of archival collections (November 2017)

A first series of about 5,000 records covering a period from the 1840s to 1950 is already available on the website. Documents subsequent to 1950 will be published as soon as they have been processed.

In particular 560 documents relating to the history of the shipyards "Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime", since their fondation in 1916-1917 until their fusion with the shipyards "Les Chantiers navals de La Ciotat" in 1966, have just been put online. Similarly, the sources concerning the activities of Worms Services Maritimes will soon be supplemented by 330 testimonies dating from 1918 to 1944.

The archives come from the headquarters of Maison Worms and some of its branches located in France and abroad. They represent only a part of the files produced by the company, most of which were destroyed - once the limitation period expired - either, during relocation, wars... or, transferred to other structures (nationalization of Banque Worms, mergers and sales of subsidiaries).

They relate to different business lines:

  • Initial activities of the founder (Belgian coal trading, operation of gypsum quarry in Paris and distribution of plaster in France, importation of goods...)
  • British coal trading in France and worldwide from 1848,
  • Shipowning and maritime services, from 1856 (Worms fleet, cabotage lines...)
  • Shipbuilding, from 1917 (Le Trait shipyards)
  • Banking services, from 1928.

These sources are supplemented by: 

  • historical monographs produced by Maison Worms and its subsidiaries, as well as by extracts from books containing references to the history of the company,
  • information from municipal and departmental archives (cities of Paris and Le Havre especially), directories, publications...

Nineteenth century

In addition to a compilation of original documents (letters, legal acts, State contracts...) PDFs of which are available on the web site, the most important corpus consists of collections of copies of letters from Paris and branches in Le Havre, Bordeaux, Marseille, Port Said, Algiers, Buenos Aires, dating from the 1840s to the First World War.
These were analyzed by Maison Worms before producing the book “Un Centenaire - 1848-1948 - Worms & Cie”. In this study, the couriers, selected for their historical interest, were either summarized or reproduced, in whole or in part, on hundreds of handwritten cards. Copies of the most significant letters were typed. All of this documentation has been entered or scanned and inserted chronologically into articles which list, year by year, the information posted on the site.

Main themes: Importing British coal, creating a business infrastructure on both sides of the Channel, chartering vessels, tender markets, supply of shipping coal, steam navigation and "modern" wars (Crimea, Italy, Mexico ...), shipbuilding in France and in England, establishment of a cabotage network of lines in Northern Europe, supply of coaling stations on the steamship routes, links between rail and coastal navigation, Saint-Simonism, digging and crossing the Suez Canal, transport and storage of petroleum, navigation on the Red Sea, collegial structure and family-run company...


This archival collection comprises files produced by the management of the company: correspondence, memoranda, reports, circulars, agreements, treaties... (originals or copies) relating to maritime and shipbuilding activities, and to a lesser extent, coal trading and banking services.

It will be completed:

  • by the collections of copies of letters that have not been exhaustively studied as was the case for the correspondence dating from the 19th century,
  • and by a set of files (stored in sixty containers, or approximately 300 archive boxes) that were classified in their original state by the departments that produced them. Inventoried by subject, not chronologically, they originated from maritime and coal Services, Trait shipyards, as well as French and foreign branches. A summary of inventories is given at the end of the annual collections of this period.

NB: Following the nationalization of the Banque Worms in 1982, the archives of banking services were taken over by the UAP, then, by Deutsche Bank. This loss has been partially reconstructed from copies and from the reports that were collected and kept at the Company headquarters.

Main themes: public power and private initiative (requisition of commercial fleets and services of Maison Worms, reconstruction of the French merchant marine and shipbuilding - creation of Le Trait shipyards, delivery of German coals as part of the reparations process); development of business connections with Northern Europe, coal policy in France (imported coal, strikes in England, development of colonial mineral production...), creation of Banking Services (Merchant Banking): long haul shipping (Nouvelle Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire), air transport (Air France), insurance (La Préservatrice), semi-public company (Société française de transports pétroliers)...


The Second World War is the period which produced the largest number of references and studies on the Company. Two investigations have been conducted on Maison Worms and its managers, the first in June 1941 by the Deutsche Treuhand by order of the German authorities, and the second between September 1944 and December 1945, by the French government against Hypolite Worms and Gabriel Le Roy Ladurie. All these archives were published on the website.

The Center of Research of the National Archives - Caran, in Paris, also keeps several archive boxes on the same subject. The main reference numbers are: Z/6/NL/74 and F/12/9566; F/7/15343; F/12/10273 and Z/NL/10123.

Main themes: agreement signed between Daladier and Chamberlain over collectivizing resources vital in times of war; Worms agreements of 4 July 1940; requisition of merchant ships and crews (Worms, NCHP, SFTP...); cessation of operations in Northern Europe (impact of conflict on sea links - with Great Britain in particular - and on activity of branches); measures taken in application of anti-Jewish prescriptions, placing of Maison Worms under control of German administrators; campaign against Worms & Cie in the collaborationist press and hostility by Pierre Laval; Darlan government and synarchy; reconversion of fuel trading operations (forestries, sawmills, peat bogs...); creation of bank branches in Marseille and Algiers; resistance of Le Trait shipyards in the face of German occupation and bombardments; legal action taken against H. Worms and G. Le Roy Ladurie, for "economic collaboration with the enemy": dismissal of the charges.


Archives result from three services of Maison Worms: fuels, shipping and banking, and also from Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine-Maritime, the company which succeeded the shipbuilding department in 1946.

Main themes: reconstruction of shipyards and filialization of shipbuilding activities; end of importation of coal (constitution of a State monopoly through ATIC - Technical Association of Coal Importing); participation in the creation of Antar (major) and distribution of petroleum products; redeployment of maritime and banking activities in North Africa.


Only sources relating to the years 1951-1953 as well as historical monographs and interviews of the Company leaders made during the preparation of the books “Un Centenaire” (1949) and “100 Ans Boulevard Haussmann” (1978) have been posted on the website. These documentations have been added to help in understanding the development of the Company until 1950.
The archives of this period have yet to be analyzed and scanned before their publication online.