The Charlie Archive

Charlie Hebdo is a weekly French satirical magazine that features cartoons, reports, debates, and jokes that are strongly non-conformist. It was originally a companion publication to Hara-Kiri in the 1970s and then ceased publication in 1981. Charlie Hebdo was resurrected in 1992 and is currently in publication.

The attacks of January 7, 8, and 9 2015 against Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris sparked a vigorous debate about fundamental political and ethical issues such as freedom of expression, the relation between state, religion and society, respect for other beliefs and perspectives, inequality, and the disenfranchisement of individuals and communities. Participants in this debate represent a wide range of political positions and social backgrounds. Though the events and subsequent protests were concentrated in France, extensive media coverage drew global attention. “Je suis Charlie” or “Je ne suis pas Charlie” became international expressions of adhesion to or distance from the stance attributed to Charlie Hebdo with regard to religion in general and to Islam in particular.

The Americas, Europe, and Oceania Division at Widener created the “Charlie Archive at the Harvard Library, 2015-” that includes materials produced in the aftermath of these events. The archive contains a wide array of materials including manuscript, printed, digital, and ephemeral content that represent diverse perspectives through different media responding to the terrorists attacks in France in 2015 themselves or contributing to the debates around the events.  The objective of the archive is to document a peculiar moment in the early twenty-first century when the word “Charlie” all of a sudden took on tragic significance and became charged with conflicting emotions, opinions, and agendas.  You can see here a small selection of representative materials from the “Charlie Archive at the Harvard Library, 2015-”. 

While much of the archive is available online, physical items are also available upon request for use in the Phillips Reading Room (see HOLLIS to request an item).

For more information about the archive, visit the dedicated website:

To review the materials in the archive collection, peruse the finding aid.

Read about the archive in the Harvard Gazette.

Or, read about its inception in Le Monde (fr).


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