Translating French History, 1500-1850

Translating French History, 1500-1850

Welcome to Translating French History, 1500-1850, which presents the public with an online gallery of student translations of pamphlets drawn from the Newberry Library's collection of French pamphlets. The site is designed to complement a corresponding site, Translating French Pamphlets, which enables university professors and instructors to provide undergraduate and graduate students with access to digital copies of important pamphlets for translation exercises. Translating French History, 1500-1850 highlights pamphlet content for non-French-speaking users, grouping finished translations together according to course. Each page provides users with images of pamphlet pages as well as translations of those pages.

The French Pamphlet Collection

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Newberry Library acquired the French Revolution Collection (FRC) - a massive archive of revolutionary pamphlets - from a Parisian book dealer. The Collection contains pamphlets that represent the opinions of all factions that opposed and defended the monarchy during the turbulent period from 1789 to 1799 and chronicle the events—both dramatic and quotidian—of the First Republic. It narrates the events leading up to and following the abolition of the French monarchy in late 1792 and includes pamphlets presenting evidence for and against the king, moral and political reflections on judging and executing a monarch, and public opinion on both sides of the issue. Included are opinions of Convention deputies (Marat, Saint-Just, Robespierre, Condorcet, Desmoulins); copies of incriminating documents seized from a safe at the Tuileries Palace in 1792; the formal accusation of the king, his defense by De Seze, the roll call of votes on sentencing; and pro and contra opinions by various writers, including American Thomas Paine and Englishman William Pitt.

The pamphlets in the Collection are a foundation for diverse fields of study, ranging from legal history to ethnography to political theory to musicology. For research on the French Revolution, Enlightenment-era Europe, and the colonial Atlantic world, these pamphlets fill the gap between official documents and underground literature. They document the evolution of ideas big and small and chart how these ideas changed from day to day and place to place.

Digitization of the Collection

Intent on broadening access to this important archive, the Newberry applied for and received funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation to digitize the collection, which process was completed in the spring of 2017. By digitizing the French Revolution Collection, the Newberry has provided access to full-text, searchable digitized pamphlets - and their associated metadata - to scholars, students, and faculty around the world, while also supporting emerging and established forms of digital scholarship, such as data mining and spatialized data projection, as well as innovative forms of digital pedagogy. 

(You can explore digitized versions of pamphlets in the Internet Archive's Newberry French Revolution Pamphlet Collection.)

Get Started

To get started, browse pamphlet translations according to course. As new translations are completed, they will be added to the site.

Contents of this path: