Crain’s Chicago Business published an interview with Paul Saenger, George A. Poole III Curator of Rare Books and Collection Development Librarian, about our French pamphlet collections and the CLIR cataloging grant:
Paul Saenger, curator of rare books at the Newberry Library, says scholars are visiting Chicago for a new view of the French Revolution.
A $500,000 grant is helping the library catalogue 18,000 pamphlets, leaflets, government decrees and speeches issued by the French republic in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some 12,000 already have been cataloged over the years at the library, thanks to the late Bernard Wilson, who cataloged the pieces out of love for the era.
“It’s like an archaeological dig,” Mr. Saenger told me.
Among the pieces are a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine, materials on the trial of Louis XVI, who was found guilty of treason and executed by guillotine, and documentation on nobility ranking—call it taking names. Speaking of all things French, Chicago Francophiles are buzzing about the opening of French country store Pierre Deux opening in Chicago.
Meanwhile over a sandwich lunch, library officials talked to French consulate general Jean-Baptiste de Boissiere about the rare collection.
“We don’t know what we will find, but it could give new insights and a better understanding of the past and the future,” the French official said.
Indeed, there’s already talk of a consortium of sorts with French officials once the work is finished.