French Pamphlets

The French Revolution Collection spans some 426 linear feet of shelves in the Newberry's stacks building.
The French Revolution Collection spans some 426 linear feet of shelves in the Newberry's stacks building.

Summary

There are several discrete collections of French pamphlets at the Newberry, spanning the 16th through the 19th centuries.  This guide provides summary descriptions of each and includes tips for finding pamphlets in our Online Catalog.  The Newberry also has French pamphlets that were acquired in smaller collections or individually; these too can be located through the online catalog.

Cataloging of five of these French pamphlet collections was made possible by a 2009 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.  The Newberry’s cataloging project team created a blog, French Pamphlet Collections at the Newberry Library, to document their work as they created MARC records for 22,000 pamphlets. 

The Newberry’s French pamphlet collections support multiple fields of literary and historical study, including legal, social, and cultural history, and the history of printing and publication in France.  The material is of particular interest to scholars of the French Revolution, but the value of the pamphlets is not limited to scholars of French or European history.  The collections also enrich the study of colonial history in North America and the Carribbean and the impact of the French Revolution beyond Europe.

Early French Political Pamphlets

This collection of about 3,000 French political pamphlets published between 1560 to 1653 documents a period of religious wars and the establishment of the absolute monarchy.  The bulk of the collection was purchased in the late 1940s from New York book dealer H.P. Kraus.

How to find Early French Political Pamphlets

Nearly all of these pamphlets are individually cataloged. The call number starts with Case F 39 .326 and is followed by the year of publication and the first letter or two of the pamphlet title.  To browse the collection in the Classic version of the online catalog, select the “Call Number Browse (Other)” option and type or paste in F 39 .326 (omit the word “Case”).

Doris Welsh’s Checklist of French Political Pamphlets, 1560-1644 and A Second Checklist, 1560-1653 may also be used to identify early French political pamphlets in the Newberry. The Welsh checklists are located in the 3rd floor checklist area and in the Special Collections Reading Room.  Consult the Welsh checklists or the online catalog for the full call numbers. A Second Checklist, 1560-1653 includes an author/title index for both volumes.

Another bibliography worth consulting is Lindsay and Neu’s publication French Political Pamphlets, 1547-1648: A Catalog of Major Collections in American Libraries, which is annotated with some Newberry holdings.  Copies are located on the 3rd floor and the Special Collections Reading Room.

A shelf list of this collection is available for browsing outside the Special Collections Reading Room.

French Laws on Censorship

The Newberry’s John M. Wing Collection contains a unique assemblage of French laws concerning regulation of the press from 1513-1829.  There are about 1,200 items, all individually cataloged. Most of the items are royal and parliamentary proclamations.

How to find French Laws on Censorship

The call number of this collection is Case Wing folio Z 144 .A1, plus volume and number. These items are arranged chronologically. To browse the collection in the Classic version of the online catalog, select the “Call Number Browse (LC Class)” option and type or paste in Z 144 .A1 (omit the words “Case Wing folio”).

To browse the card catalog for this collection, consult the shelf list outside the Special Collections Reading Room.  Additional materials relating to censorship in France may be located using subject and keyword searches.

French Revolution Collection (FRC)

The French Revolution Collection consists of more than 30,000 pamphlets and more than 23,000 issues of 180 periodicals published between 1780 and 1810. The collection was acquired by the Newberry between 1957 and 1961 from Michel Bernstein, a book dealer in Paris. There are complete runs of well-known journals, as well as many rare and unknown publications.

The collection represents the opinions of all the factions that opposed and defended the monarchy during the turbulent period between 1789-1799 and also contains innumerable ephemeral publications of the early Republic. While the majority of the pamphlets were printed in Paris by the Imprimerie nationale, there are also significant numbers of provincial publishers and fictitious imprints.

How to find the French Revolution Collection

All pamphlets in this collection have individual catalog records.  Call numbers begin with Case FRC and are followed by a number.  You can search by author name or title, or browse by subject with the phrase “Pamphlets–France.”

You can also browse the FRC Collection in the VuFind version of the online catalog.

Martin and Walter’s Catalogue de l’histoire de la Révolution Française is annotated to reflect Newberry holdings.  The Newberry holds about 75% of the publications listed in this bibliography.  Copies are available in the 3rd floor checklist area and the Special Collections Reading Room.  Authored pamphlets owned by the Newberry Library but not owned by the Bibliothèque Nationale are not indicated in the Martin and Walter catalog.

A shelf list of this collection is available for browsing outside the Special Collections Reading Room.

Jansenist Collection

In the 1970s, the Newberry acquired a Jansenist collection of over 700 works from seminary libraries of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands.  The works span the 17th through 18th centuries; the majority were published from 1680 onward. A number of pamphlets may be found in this collection.

How to find the Jansenist Collection

This collection can be searched in the online catalog. There is also a printed catalog for the Newberry Jansenist collection that features chronological, subject, and alphabetical indexes. Copies are available in the checklist area on the 3rd floor and in the Special Collections Reading Room. The Newberry owns additional Jansenist materials not listed in this checklist; please consult the online catalog.

Louis XVI Trial and Execution Collection

A collection of about 530 pamphlets on the imprisonmnent, trial and execution of Louis XVI, published between August 10, 1792 and Jan. 21, 1793. The pamphlets were collected at the time of their publication and are laid in contemporary cartonnage case bindings, with boards covered in pink pastepaper.  The pamphlets contain evidence against the king, defense of the king, public opinion on both sides of the issue, and moral and political reflections on judging and executing a king. There are numerous opinions of Convention deputies (e.g., Marat, Saint-Just, Robespierre, Condorcet, Desmoulins, Fabre d’Eglantine); inventories and copies of the incriminating documents seized from a safe at the Tuileries Palace on Aug. 10, 1792, and from the papers of Arnaud de Laporte, intendant of government officers (“la liste civile”); documents relating to the trial itself, such as the formal accusation of the king, his defense by de Seze, and the roll call of votes on sentencing; and pro and contra opinions by various writers, including American Tom Paine and Englishman William Pitt.

How to find the Louis XVI Trial and Execution Collection

To see the collection-level catalog record, select the “Search By Title” option and paste or type in French Revolutionary pamphlets concerning the trial and execution of Louis XVI.  The pamphlets also have individual catalog records.  You can browse the Louis XVI Collection in the VuFind version of the online catalog.  The call numbers begin with Case Wing DC 137.08 .F73 and are followed by volume and item numbers.  Many of these pamphlets are duplicates of those in the French Revolution Collection.

Pamfletten-Verzameling

This collection of pamphlets is chiefly in Dutch and dates from 1574 to 1849.  The bulk of the pamphlets date from the 17th and 18th centuries and deal with the history of the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Scandinavia, and especially with the relations between the Netherlands and England.  Pamphlets published during the late 18th century include many in French discussing revolutionary political concepts and events, which underscore the influence of the French Revolution on the politics of all of Europe.

How to find the Pamfletten-Verzameling

To see the collection-level catalog record, select the “Search By Title” option and paste or type in Collection of Dutch historical pamphlets covering the years 1574-1849.  The call number for this collection begins with F 46 .655, followed by a volume number.  You can also browse the Pamfletten-Verzameling Collection in the VuFind version of the online catalog.

Publishers’ Prospectuses and Catalogs

This unique assemblage chronicles French printing and publishing activities from 1650-1850.   Both Parisian and rare provincial publishers are represented among some 700 book prospectuses in pamphlet form. Most of these prospectuses are French. 

How to find the Publisher’s Prospectuses and Catalogs

A print inventory is of this collection is available; the call number is Case Wing Z 45 .18 Index. Each item also has an invidual catalog record.  The call numbers begin with Case Wing Z 45 .18, and are followed by series number and item number. To browse by call number, select the “Call Number Browse (Other)” option and type or paste in Z 45 .18.

In addition, many catalogs of book dealers and auctions are in pamphlet form. For example, the Newberry owns a small collection of early 19th-century Paris bookseller’s catalogs (Wing Z 1036 .S55 1808, with 21 items in one volume). To search the online catalog for these and similar items, select the “Search by Subject” option and type or paste in the subject heading Booksellers’ catalogs.

Saint-Sulpice Collection

This collection, purchased in 2003, is largely, but not exclusively, French.  At the beginning of the 19th century, the religious order of Saint-Sulpice in Paris assembled and bound this collection of 2,566 biographical pamphlets.  The pamphlets were collected to serve as educational models, especially for rhetorical writing.  Funeral sermons, orations, commemorative verses, and discourses dating from the 16th century are included.  While most of the pamphlets are in French, the collection does include numerous Latin publications.  It also includes first editions of short works by Budé, Pascal, and Molière.  The collection is organized alphabetically by the name of the person described in the individual pamphlet.

How to find the Saint-Sulpice Collection

This collection is also referred to as Recueil de pieces historiques. To see the collection-level catalog record, select the “Search By Title” option and paste or type in Recueil de pieces historiques or Saint-Sulpice collection.  The call number begins with Case folio BX 4060 .A1 S25, followed by series and volume numbers.  You can also browse the Saint-Sulpice Collection in the VuFind version of the online catalog.

For Further Information

Lindsay, Robert O., and John Neu.  French Political Pamphlets, 1547-1648: A Catalog of Major Collections in American Libraries.  Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.

Martin, André, and Gérard Walter.  Catalogue de l’histoire de la Révolution Française. Paris: Éditions des Bibliothèques Nationales, 1936-1969.

McIlwain, Charles H., and John U. Nef.  “17th Century French Political Pamphlets.”  The Newberry Library Bulletin 3, no. 2 (April 1953): 50-56.

Pargellis, Stanley.  “Materials for French History in the Newberry Library.”  French Historical Studies 1, no. 1 (1958): 95-99.

Popkin, Jeremy D.  “Materials for the Study of the French Revolution in Chicago-Area Libraries.”  French Historical Studies 14, no.4 (Fall 1986): 587-590.

Reference Sources for French Printing and Publishing.

Wagley, Stephen.  A Catalog of the Jansenist Collection in the Newberry Library. Chicago: Newberry Library, 1973.

Welsh, Doris Varner. A Checklist of French Political Pamphlets,1560-1644, in the Newberry Library.  Chicago: Newberry Library, 1950.

Welsh, Doris Varner. A Second Checklist of French Political Pamphlets, 1560-1653, in the Newberry Library.  Chicago: Newberry Library, 1955.