The Knowledge of People in Poverty

Online documentation portal

By opening its documentation portal to the general public, the Joseph Wresinski Archives and Research Centre is putting an essential part of its wealth of resources online.

Unique knowledge

Since 1957, ATD Fourth World has been publishing and collecting works that are the result of the shared experiences, knowledge and actions of families living in poverty and their partners. This collection from over 30 countries includes journals, studies, reports, life stories, evaluations and policy recommendations, and constitutes a unique body of knowledge built with people living in poverty and those working along side them.

1,600 documents now available

For the past three years, the Joseph Wresinski Archives and Research Centre has been digitizing these documents (1,600 are now available) and building an online documentation centre that is open to all with options for e-reading, full text search and download.

This online documentation portal is accessible here:

An archive now found in SUDOC

“Additionally, we have asked that these collections be integrated into the French University Documentation System (SUDOC). Several academics support this, as they have already used the resources found at the Joseph Wresinski Archives and Research Centre in their work. This proposal was approved. Students, professors and researchers linked to the French university system can now find an important part of our documentation in the SUDOC documentation system.”

Bruno Tardieu
Director, Joseph Wresinski Archives and Research Centre

Axelle Brodiez-Dolino, Historian at The French National Center for Scientific Research (CRNS):

“The archives now accessible to researchers have been a unique and invaluable source on the history of extreme poverty around the world since the 1960s. They offer a radically different point of view than government records or reports from other organizations, which are more interested in collecting figures and making assessments. The Joseph Wresinski Archives and Research Centre archives use a very immersive, analytical approach, based on the point of view of the person living in poverty and not the point of view of someone who is trying to help and who might have preconceived ideas. Because the prism of observation is different, the history is not at all the same. This explains why, throughout its history, ATD Fourth World has proposed radically different solutions from those proposed by other organizations.”

Pierre Serna, Historian at Sorbonne University:

“Visiting the Joseph Wresinski [Archives] and Research Centre was a defining experience in understanding the richness of the documents it holds, unpublished and decidedly new sources that, with their many other life stories and images, write a history from the point of view of those in poverty, staying as true as possible to their experience.”

Christopher Winship, Sociologist at Harvard University:

“This is an archive that fully meets the professional standards of a university library. It, however, contains unusual, arguably unique materials – not only Wresinski’s extensive writings but also the writings of those living in extreme poverty. It literally contains the voice of the poor. It consists of the accumulated records of the poorest of the poor, team actions and people working along side them from all walks of life, collected from over 60 years and representing five continents.”

Maximiliano Antonio Araujo, Cultural Issues Consultant:

“I have been familiar with this documentation centre and its importance for many years. It contains valuable and necessary information about the life and work of Father Joseph Wresinski, about ATD Fourth World, and, above all, about the daily fight of people living in extreme poverty around the world for the recognition of all their rights.”

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