28th January 1873
The genesis of the Société Jersiaise
The Société Jersiaise was founded with several aims, including the foundation of a library of local interest, promoting the continued use of French as the official language of Jersey, and publishing local history.
The founders were worried that the growth of St Helier would lead to the loss of much of the island’s unique culture and recognised a need to do something to preserve what remained. However, in those early days it was a less organised institution than the one we know now. It was to be another 20 years before it moved to a large merchant’s house at 9 Pier Road, where it still maintains part of the Jersey Museum and, over time, its goals have been amended to reflect changing times.
Preserving Jersey’s culture
The Societe lost the battle to preserve French as Jersey’s official language, and it now also interests itself in Jersey’s flora and fauna, alongside its culture, architectural and archaeological heritage. It has also moved its offices out of 9 Pier Road to a larger headquarters at 7 Pier Road, with space for meeting rooms, an archive, and the Société’s library. Its museums are operated by the Jersey Heritage Trust.
The Société publishes an annual bulletin, the first edition of which was issued in 1875. Publication continued throughout the Occupation, during which period the German forces took over the Société’s site at La Hougue Bie. The bulletin of 1943 – 1944 reveals that forces had cut down a number of trees on the south-east corner of the site, but that the Forestry Commission had refused the Feldkommandantur permission to cut down any further trees, which seems like a brave move on the Commission’s part, considering the environment in which it operated.
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