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This page is for a project in planning to develop an online portal to French pamphlet collections held by libraries throughout the world. The project will focus on pamphlets from 1500-1800, covering the French Wars of Religion (1562-96) through the French Revolution (1789-1799).
Many academic institutions hold French pamphlets dating from various historical periods.
The Collaborative Initiative for French Language Collections (CIFNAL) is working on a new catalog of online French Pamphlets. The catalog will be a database resource able to link users to full-text, digital facsimiles of French pamphlets made accessible by CIFNAL member institutions, international partner collections, and other freely accessible digital library collections, such as the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s Gallica collection.
For more information, visit the French Pamphlet Project’s Facebook page or contact Matthew Loving , Romance Languages Librarian at the University of Florida. CIFNAL is part of the Global Resources Network at the Center for Research Libraries.
Descriptive text from project planners:
The Library of Congress defines pamphlets as "Published non-periodical volumes with no cover or with a paper cover - usually five or more pages and fewer than 49 pages.” The largest single category of French pamphlets can be classified as government publications and their contents reveal valuable information about French society, characterized by discussions of social reform, educational reorganization, price regulation, administrative changes, religious concessions and suppressions, monetary regulations, commercial monopolies, and diplomatic agreements. As primary documents, these brief and ephemeral printings offer researchers a rare and unique proof of events revolving around the politics, history and mores of an entire epoch of time and in particular that of one of the most important political events of the Western world: the French Revolution of the 18th Century.
BYU’s Head of Special Collections, Scott Duvall, discusses further the historical importance of the pamphlets in the below quote:
But in addition to these normally expected topics, our collection possesses a breadth of many other fascinating topics for research. There are pamphlets that deal with regulations of all kinds: dress standards for the bourgeoisie, the state granaries and salt warehouses, marriage, divorce, the hostelries and tavern keepers, the guilds and the rights of workers, firearms, domestic servants, the importation and production of linen cloth, coinage, censorship, printing, and booksellers, to list a few. There are pamphlets that treat the judiciary, the officials for the royal forests, the threat of the Turks, the poor, the peasantry, the harvest, and even the Eucharist. In addition, many of the pamphlets treat predictions of the future, i.e. prophecies and horoscopes defined by the stars, eclipses and comets.
While the example quoted here comes from an earlier time than most pamphlets, similar concerns and similar discoveries can be found in pamphlets from the French Revolution and later. And such artifacts of social and cultural history offer not only nuggets for rich research, but more importantly allow for direct comparisons and lessons to and for our own time.
The rareness and need for immediate preservation consideration of pamphlets stems from the limited printings of pamphlet titles, the low quality of paper used for printings as well as their tendency to be censored, confiscated, destroyed, lost or thrown away. With a typical run of 500 to 1200 pamphlets per printing, even the most popular pamphlets might have only reached the hands of less than 1% of France’s urban, literate populations. This year FPP has begun to organize around a core group of interested CRL/CIFNAL members working together to launch the project. Along with UF (2810 pamphlets, 108 digitized), current participants include: BYU (2100 pamphlets, 639 digitized); Harvard University; Brown University; John Hopkins University; University of Kansas; NY Public Library; Cornell University; Emory University (1500 pamphlets, 391 digitized); University of Alabama (391 pamphlets, 132 digitized); Yale University; La Bibliothèque de Toulouse (150 digitized); Ball State University (524 digitized).
An FPP international partner, The Bibliothèque de Toulouse is working to preserve pamphlets written primarily in Occitan. University of Florida PhD candidate Audrey Viguier is working directly with this institutional partner and several other small regional collections (Pau) to organize and push forward digitization efforts in the Toulouse region of France for rare, deteriorating Occitan pamphlets. The Bibliothèque de Toulouse has digitized over 150 of these titles in the last two years since Ms. Viguier began working with their local bibliographer, Joycelyne Deschaux.
Previous to this collaborative effort, individual institutions have progressed slowly and unaware of other institutions’ plans or holdings. There may be have other institutions which have such holdings and have digitized pamphlets. FPP will strive to remedy this issue as well as to increase access to French pamphlet content regardless of location.
At the center of the project, an online portal comprised of a catalog of digitized French pamphlets will create an online finding-aid, associated with a unique URL (www.frenchpamphlets.org), capable of linking users directly to full-text, digital facsimiles of French pamphlets located in CRL/CIFNAL member institutions, international partner collections and other freely accessible digital library collections such as the Bibliothèque Nationale de France's Gallica collection. Part of the importance of this centralized resource will be to make available similar but widely dispersed digitized academic resources that many search engine algorithms often exclude, burying important digital content under pages of other more popular and less academically relevant Web content. The pamphlet catalog will also facilitate the work of the FPP advisory board in prioritizing the preservation and digitization of documents that in many cases are in very poor condition that greatly reduces access to researchers. A digital initiative for preservation and access purposes also may be part of the project, depending on timing and fund availability.