James, the youngest of Mayer Amschel's sons, settled in Paris from 1812, but the Paris bank, MM de Rothschild Frères, was only constituted in 1817, with James, Anselm, Salomon, Nathan and Carl as partners. After James's death in 1868, his son Alphonse assumed the leading role in the firm, followed by his son Edouard, and the latter's son, Guy. In 1981, following the election to the French Presidency of François Mitterand, the Paris bank was nationalised and the family obliged to leave the rue Laffitte, which had been the base of the Paris house since Baron James's days. Guy de Rothschild has written about the events surrounding the nationalisation of the business in his book, Contre Bonne Fortune, translated into English as The Whims of Fortune.
Papers held in London
In 1940 the Nazis seized papers from the French family, which were later taken into the custody of the Soviet Army at the end of the second world war. The files were stored at the Centre for Historico-Documentary Collections in Moscow, catalogued as Fond 58, until their transfer to the Rothschild Archive in 1994 with the cooperation of the Chairman of the Committee for Archival Affairs of the Government of the Russian Federation. The collection consists of 1,402 files relating to 26 members of the Rothschild family and their relatives.
Following the nationalisation of the bank in 1981, the family retained private documents from the vaults. These are now housed in the Rothschild Archive, London and known as the Lafite papers. These contain the accounts of members of the family, files concerning the family's properties, wills and charitable activities, as well as a number of business files.
There is also a small amount of private client information with the records of SM von Rothschild.
Papers held in France
The business records of the Paris House, originally available in the Archives Nationales in Paris, are currently located in the Centre des Archives du Monde du Travail at Roubaix. They are dominated by the business correspondence from agents and correspondents of the Paris house, but the bank's interests in rail and natural resources are reflected in the collection. A copy of the catalogue of the collection (132 AQ) is available in the Rothschild Archive, London and summarised here.
For further information contact The Rothschild Archive. Lists and indexes are available on the Rothschild Research Forum.