French Pamphlet Project Meeting at the Newberry Library

WESS Newsletter

Fall 2013, Vol. 37, No. 1

Matthew Loving, Romance Languages Librarian at the University of Florida in Gainesville, realized that a large collection of French Revolution pamphlets was in his library’s collections. After talking with colleagues at other institutions, he realized that there were several important collections of this type of material in North American repositories, and that insufficient cataloging and description were hindering discovery and access for librarians and scholars. These conversations gave birth to the French Revolution Pamphlet Project. Loving invited colleagues affiliated with CIFNAL (Collaborative Initiative for French Language Collections), and others with large French Revolution pamphlet holdings, such as the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, to join in this collaborative project – there was a significant WESS turnout. With their support, the University of Florida applied for and successfully received a National Endowment for the Humanities planning grant for the project. This grant supports one face-to-face and two virtual meetings, as well as environmental scans of the pamphlet holdings of 7 institutions.

The first meeting took place on June 25-26, 2013, at the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois, with attendees from the University of Florida, the Newberry, the BnF, the University of Maryland, Yale, Stanford, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Kansas, and Brigham Young University. The two-day meeting gave participants the opportunity to give presentations about their collections of French Revolution pamphlets, to discuss issues and challenges of the project, and to better define the project’s scope and objectives.

The Newberry Library, which just finished cataloging its collection of 30,000 revolutionary pamphlets with the aid of a CLIR Hidden Collections grant, provided the ideal setting, as its staff shared valuable lessons that they had learned through this 6-year project. The objective will be an online open access portal with individual title-level access points showing holdings at different institutions, as well as access to digital versions of the pamphlets when available.

Sarah Sussman
Curator, French and Italian Collections
Stanford University Libraries