Newberry Library French Pamphlet Project Funded!

We are very excited to learn that our grant proposal for the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives initiative has been funded! Here is our Official Press release:

Newberry Library Receives $500,000 Grant From Council on Library and Information Resources

Grant funds 3-year project to catalog Newberry’s French Pamphlet Collections

CHICAGO, December 3, 2009 — The Newberry Library is pleased to announce it has recently received a $488,179 three-year grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to catalog approximately 22,000 French pamphlets from four of its collections. The Newberry’s project is one of 14 selected out of 91 proposals in this year’s CLIR Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives initiative.

“We are grateful to the Council on Library and Information Resources for recognizing the value of such an extraordinary assemblage of ephemeral documents,” said Hjordis Halvorson, vice president of library services. “ Pamphlets such as these are considered rare treasures, not only for the content they hold but also because they were often not preserved at the time of publication.”

She added, “Greater access to these Newberry materials supports numerous fields of literary and historical study including legal, social and cultural history, and the history of printing and publication.”

The following describes the four Newberry collections in more detail:

French Revolution Collection: More than 30,000 pamphlets and 180 periodicals published between 1780 and 1810. The periodicals and 12,000 anonymously authored pamphlets have already been cataloged, and 18,000 pamphlets with known authors will be cataloged through this grant.

Recueil de pieces historiques: At the end of the 18th century in Paris, the religious order of Saint-Sulpice at its headquarters assembled this collection of more than 2,600 biographical pamphlets to serve as an archive of primary source – printed and manuscript – material. Funeral sermons, orations, commemorative discourses, and verses dating from the 16th to the early 19th century were included. Among these are rare first editions of short works by Bude, Pascal, and Moliere.

Publishers’ prospectuses and catalogs: Parisian and rare provincial publishers are represented in this unique assemblage of publicity and advertisements for French printing and publishing from 1700-1850. The collection consists of more than 700 pamphlets.

Trial and execution of Louis XVI: This contemporary collection of more than 600 rare government pamphlets published at the time of the trial provides information on the collection of evidence, the defense by de Seze, public opinion (including a French tract of American Tom Paine), moral and political reflections on judging and executing the king, and opinions of Convention deputies (e.g. Marat, Saint-Just, Robespierre). The pamphlets are preserved in their original etui binding.

“Naturally, the material is of great interest to scholars and students interested in the French Revolution, however, its value goes well beyond French and European historians,” explained Paul Saenger, the George A. Poole III Curator of Rare Books and collection development librarian. “These French Pamphlet Collections also enriches research into printing, publishing and book collecting during the Revolution; the colonial history in North America and the Caribbean; the impact of the French Revolution on the United States and elsewhere; and the ongoing debates about citizenship.

“We are thrilled that this unique assemblage of materials will soon be available to researchers across the world, to study, compare, and marvel at.”

For more information about the Newberry’s French Pamphlet Collections, contact the reference desk at or (312) 255-3506.

The Newberry Library, a preeminent humanities research and reference institution, is home to a world-class collection of books, manuscripts, maps, music, and other printed materials related to the history and culture of Western Europe and the Americas. The collections span many centuries and feature items such as illuminated medieval manuscripts, rare early maps, rich genealogical resources, and the personal papers of Midwest authors. The Newberry offers exhibits based on its collections, theatrical performances, lectures and discussions with today’s leading humanists, seminars and workshops, and teacher programs. Visit us in-person at 60 West Walton St., Chicago, or at to learn more.

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