Can’t get enough of French culture? Check out the French Pamphlets from the 1788-1804 Revolution, and the project that’s making them even more available to you.
Fiction provides an incredible lens through which readers can relate to events from the past. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway’s performances in the 2012 hit Les Misérables brought the famous musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel into pop culture. Some readers may imagine the French Revolution (which started over 40 years before Hugo’s student barricade) based on a popular high-school text: A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. Stories like these touch the heart and provide a personal experience of history that high-school textbooks just can’t achieve.
However, primary source materials also provide insightful perspective from the point of view of people who experienced the era first-hand. Take the French Pamphlets, a collection of publications during the French Revolution (June 1788 – December 1804). Students and researchers from fields like sociology, linguistics, government and politics, even art and design, benefit from studying documents that everyday people shared then like Internet memes are shared today.
Now, a collaboration of departments at the University of Maryland are working from a collection of 12,000 French pamphlets to make them more accessible to students and researchers.