The coverage on France begins with the outbreak of World War I and continues through to the present. Among the more substantial areas of coverage are the two world wars, foreign relations in the interwar period, decolonization, the war in Algeria, the establishment and growth of the Fifth Republic, the May 1968 student uprising, the change in 1981 from a conservative to a socialist government, and all general elections to the present.
World War I holdings include the 92-volume Les Armées françaises dans la grande guerre, issued by the Imprimerie Nationale and the 100-volume Collections de mémoires, études et documents pour servir à l'histoire de la guerre mondiale, issued in Paris between 1920 and l936 and covering both official and unofficial propaganda and information efforts.
The eighteen scrapbooks of Stéphane Lauzanne, editor of the influential newspaper Le Matin (1920–40), are a good source for the interwar period, as is the periodical published by Roger Mennevée, Documents politiques, diplomatiques et financiers (1920–40).
Of particular interest are the records of the postwar government investigation of the Commission chargée d'enquêter les évènements survenus en France 1933–45 (11 volumes published in 1949–50).
World War II is extensively documented, both from the Vichy and the Free French side, by trench papers, periodicals, and files of the Free French Journal officiel issued in London and Algiers. Other primary sources include underground newspapers and periodicals, minutes of COMAC (Comité d'action militaire du Conseil national de la résistance), and an archival collection on Pierre Laval, deposited by his son-in-law René de Chambrun. Of particular interest for French wartime history is a collection of French resistance materials that were copied in the resistance archives in Paris at the request of the French Committee of the Hoover Library.
Fifth Republic holdings include ephemeral material such as leaflets, pamphlets, and posters; "professions de foi" for the general elections (1958–81) issued by the various prefectures for the candidates of all parties; monographs; biographies; memoirs; and studies in a variety of languages.
Important holdings for the war in Algeria include, among others, the following periodicals: Le Bled: Hebdomadaire militaire d'information (1958–62); L'écho d'Alger (1957–61); Le Pied noir (1963–66); and El Moudjahid (1957–62), the major clandestine journal of the Algerian Front of National Liberation issued in Tunis, as well as a later reprint issued in Yugoslavia.
For the May 1968 student revolt the library holds short runs of periodicals, sets of leaflets, some posters, and other ephemeral documentation, as well as monographs, reminiscences, and accounts.
The presidential elections of 1969, 1974, 1981, 1988, and, 1995 are all documented. Current collecting efforts concentrate on the rise of right-wing movements, immigration policy, relations with Germany, economic ties with East European countries, and publications by and about the European Union.