Digital heritage library

The Ponts Legacy

École nationale des ponts et chaussées is one of the world’s oldest engineering schools. Established in 1747, its ranks have included engineers and scientists of great renown, such as  Perronet, Prony, Mandar, Caquot, Dartein, NavierCoriolis, Coyne, Freyssinet, Résal, etc. It has also trained generations of engineers who, in their turn, have fashioned the world beyond national borders by spreading the technical advances of their era and completing major engineering projects.


As heir to this legacy, the Ponts Digital Heritage Library is a source of numerous printed and manuscript documents, maps, plans, drawings,  etc.., disseminated to a wide audience interested in the history of science and technology and in the history of the School and its engineers.
At the heart of the Heritage Library is a set of documents that are a record of the history of the School through minutes of council meetings, of the disciplines and courses taught from 1818 to 1945, of Mission reports written by student engineers.

Collections and exhibitions

  • A major instrument in the distribution of scientific and technical knowledge, the Annales des ponts et chaussées (1831-2004) are one of the treasures of the website. They provide one of the most accurate records of the workof engineers dating back to 1831 and of the changes that were to take place throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, whether in the social and economic spheres, or in the sciences and techniques of urban planning and civil engineering.
  • Renowned throughout the world for being the first to create graphic and figurative representations from statistical elements, Charles-Joseph Minard was a professor at the School: all his maps are in the original collections presented on the website.
  • A collection of manuscript and printed texts, reflecting the diversity and richness of the School’s heritage, is also available for exploration. Examples include the description of the project and construction work on the Bridges of Neuilli, Mantes, Orléans, Ponts et Chaussées reports from the late 17th century, the collections on China, Panama, etc.
  • A series of virtual exhibitions developed by researchers and experts in the field will highlight themes linked with the history of the School. The theme of the first exhibition is the School and the Great War.
  • Famille des Ponts consists of a set of biographical notes on the institution’s engineers, whether internal or external students.

A few figures

More than 1000 documents are now available for consultation online, including:

  • 430 classes drawn from 30 disciplines taught at École nationale des ponts et chaussées between 1818 and 1945
  • 75 mission diaries by student engineers
  • More than a hundred biographical notes on engineers to be found in Famille des Ponts

About the Library

The Digital Heritage Library uses the open source Omeka solution from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and from George Mason University. It offers numerous functions for reading (zoom, full screen, image rotation, etc.), navigation (mosaic, page scrolling, etc.), and search within the document (in full text for documents printed using OCR scanning). An advanced search engine and tag-based indexation facilitate content browsing.

Under the principles of responsive design, the Digital Library’s display adjusts to whatever reading format is being used (computer, tablet, smartphone).

Go and look now at!