Digital Resource: French Pamphlet Collection

Interested in French history and language? Explore digitized items from our French Pamphlet collection online!  The entire collection spans from 1620 to 1966 and contains pamphlets on a variety of topics, covering everything from religion to science to the economy.

The most significant portion of the collection is on politics and social issues in France, particularly the French Revolution.  The collection includes the Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen, one of the most important civil rights documents of the French Revolution.  The Déclaration espoused the principle of popular sovereignty and that all citizens were equal in the eyes of the law.   The collection also includes pamphlets opposing  the revolution, such as Le de Profundis de la Noblesse et du Clergé.

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Announcing “A Colony in Crisis”

A Colony in CrisisWe are happy to announce the debut of the Colony in Crisis website, where you will find a collection of digitized and translated French pamphlets dealing with the Saint-Domingue grain shortage of 1789. To facilitate access to each pamphlet, we have brought together the French original, a brief historical introduction, and a translation. While the subject matter will be of interest to those interested in a variety of fields such as Atlantic History, the Ancien Régime, and the Haitian Revolution, the primary goal of A Colony in Crisis is to get these fascinating and underutilized pamphlets into more hands and shed light on an interesting chapter in the history of Saint-Domingue. We expect it will be especially useful for undergraduate courses needing primary source materials that have been translated into English, but we welcome feedback as to the many other potential uses. Thank you to the Board of Advisors and the many colleagues who contributed; without their assistance the site would not be going live today!

Agriculture, Illustrations and Prophecies

Figure 1

Figure 1

Hello everyone, it has been some time since the last post and there are lots of new things to report.  First off, I would like to introduce myself, Marie-Laure Flamer, as a “new” addition to the pamphlets team.  Since my start in October, I have examined over 1,000 pamphlets with diverse subjects such as opinions on King Louis XVI’s trial and judgment, satirical pieces and political poems, and far too many law decrees.

A little more about myself; I am a second semester senior studying environmental science and sustainability.  Though my academic background does not evoke a sense of relevance to the arts and humanities, my fluency in French and my familial ties to French culture and history fuel my interest in this project.  I take the project’s title, Revealing La Rèvolution, to heart given that reading these pamphlets excites the French patriot within me and transports me to the 18th century France.  What more could you ask for of a part-time job?

Figure 2

Figure 2

Last semester, I worked my way through endless pamphlets concerning royal decrees, biographies, and reports on judiciary proceedings; however, in the past few weeks I have stumbled upon a few documents revolving around agriculture that I found to be particularly interesting.

In a recent collection of these agriculture-related pamphlets, I found this one describing the cultivation of potatoes and suggestions for its culinary preparation (Figure 1).  Also included was an illustration of a moulin used to make potato flour, an important ingredient in breads and pastries of the time (Figure 2).

Figure 3

Figure 3

I would also like to share this beautiful stylized initial portraying King Louis XVI (Figure 3).  Now if I could only find a matching version of a stylized letter M, then I could make a cool personalized signature stamp with my initials!

On a different note, many of the pamphlets showcase the eloquence of the writing style of the period and demonstrate the power of written word.  One pamphlet “motto” that particularly struck me can be seen below, which says “The kings are ripe, it will not be long before they fall.”

Figure 4

Figure 4

Thanks to everyone checking back in and stay tuned for more updates!

Revealing La Revolution: The Environmental Scan & Microsoft Excel, Part 2

As you now know I began my tenure as the interim Curator for Literature and Rare Books by trying to get more familiar with cataloged items in Rare Books and Special Collections by creating a spreadsheet that would give me an overview of the collection as a whole. Technical Services provided me with a MARC file containing the complete MARC records for every item in these collections and pointed me to MARCedit to be able to create a customized report about the collections. Previously I explained how I used MARCedit in Revealing La Revolution: The Environmental Scan & MARCedit, Part 1. Now I’m going to share how I imported and set up my data in Microsoft Excel so that it revealed the contents of Rare Books and Special Collections to me.

I began by opening a new workbook in Microsoft Excel and went to the “Data” Menu Ribbon.

Excel Data Menu Import from Text File

Excel Data Menu Import from Text File

In the furthest left column I choose to import my data “from text” and directed the request box to the correct file.

Excel Import File Selection

Excel Import File Selection

The Import Wizard then allowed me to choose how to import the file. I chose “delimited” because that was the type of file I created and left “Start import at row” to its preset of “1”. In order to keep the diacritics and special characters from foreign languages I had to change the “File origin:” to match my file type “Unicode (UTF-8)”.

Excel Import Selection of Unicode UTF-8 File Type

Excel Import Selection of Unicode UTF-8 File Type

For Step two I chose “tab” to match my previous file.

Excel Import Selecting Tab Delimited

Excel Import Selection of Tab Delimited

And in Step 3 I choose “Text” because I didn’t want Excel thinking it was smarter than me and assuming that what might be a combination of numbers and letters is something other than it is and changing it. You know Excel likes to do this!

Excel Import Selection of Text

Excel Import Selection of Text

Finally I told excel that I wanted it to use the current worksheet to display the data. And after the import was complete I saved my new excel file!

Excel Import Location Selection

Excel Import Location Selection

Finally, because I wanted to sort my data I choose to “Format as Table” from the “Home” Menu Ribbon.

Excel Formatting as a Table

Excel Formatting as a Table

And now I have a very useful excel table with all currently cataloged Rare Book and Special Collections items.

Sample data with special characters and diacritics

Sample data with special characters and diacritics

More sample data with special characters and diacritics

More sample data with special characters and diacritics

This file is so much more useful than browsing the stacks for projects like the environmental scan for Revealing La Revolution. It is also a great help to me as I update the webpages about our collections and reach out to instructors with resources for their classroom. Hopefully the information on how I created this report is useful to you, too.

See Revealing La Revolution: The Environmental Scan & MARCedit, Part 1 to learn more about using MARCedit to read how I used MARCeditor to define the fields for my Excel spreadsheet.

Revealing La Revolution: The Environmental Scan & MARCedit, Part 1

As the interim Curator of Literature and Rare Books I am writing the Environmental Scan for the French Pamphlet Project. Two tools I have found very useful to help with this are MARCedit and Microsoft Excel (I sort of love spreadsheets). I became familiar with MARCedit over the summer as I attempted to gain intellectual control over my expanded collection responsibilities and learned a new (to me) feature of Microsoft Excel which has proved very useful for putting together this report. So I wanted to tell you a little about what I’ve learned.

After I was appointed interim Curator for Literature and Rare Books in May, I requested a report from Technical Services of all cataloged items in Rare Books and Special Collections. I already had a comfortable grasp of the literary manuscript collections but had not had an opportunity to really get to know the Rare Books and Special Collections volumes. In an effort to become better acquainted with these collections, I asked Technical Services to include several descriptive MARC fields (language and subject entries) for each item in Rare Books and Special Collections.

Rare Books and Special Collections Stacks

Rare Books and Special Collections Stacks

Rare Books and Special Collections Oversize Stacks

Rare Books and Special Collections Oversize Stacks

I was hoping that the final report would provide me a broad overview of the collection as well as the ability to examine the collection at a more granular level without having to go and browse the stacks. While I do love browsing the Rare Books stacks this just seemed a very inefficient way to get to know the collections. Additionally, Rare Books are fragile (sorry to state the obvious) and I don’t want to be pulling them of the shelves, flipping through them, and the re-shelving them to gather information about them that should be discernible from their catalog records.

Rare Books Shelf

Rare Books Shelf

Technical Services ran a standard report version of my request and offered me a MARC file with all Rare Book and Special Collections items complete MARC records if I wanted to create my own report using MARCedit. I accepted the challenge and a short guide to MARCedit.



After downloading and installing MARCedit, the first step to using MARCedit requires running the entire MARCfile through MARCbreaker to create a UTF-8 MARC file. By converting the file to a UTF-8 file the succeeding programs that this information is run through will recognize the special characters and diacritics. MARCbreaker will clean up and search for errors in MARC records while providing preliminary data about the entire file. This data let me know how many times each MARC field was used which helped me in figuring out what MARC fields I wanted MARCedit to provide in my report.



I then ran my new MARC UTF-8 file through MARCedit and checked the result of my report in Microsoft Excel. My report was a mess! Many of the records were missing information in the MARCfields I had requested and most of the records in foreign languages using special characters and diacritics came through garbled. The problems were not MARCedit or Excel’s they were mine. I realized that I was going to need to dig a little deeper into MARC fields and get crafty about how I imported my data into Excel.

I had a basic understanding of the MARC fields from one of my introductory iSchool courses but found it necessary to rely heavily on the Library of Congress’s MARC21 Bibliographic Data website to make sure that I was getting the MARC fields I truly wanted.* I had to run the report several times before I was able to figure out all of the MARC fields I wanted and how to request them from MARCedit.

Entering the fields I wanted into MARCedit was the hardest part. I could only select a single MARC field or field and subfield at a time when I knew I wanted about 20 fields in my report. So it was time consuming to select each one individually and see whether or not UMD Libraries was using that field the way I expected them to or not. The fields I finally ended up with in my report are:

008$35 – Language Code (letter 1)

008$36 – Language Code (letter 2)

008$37 – Language Code (letter 3)

* Did you know that for MARC’s three-letter-language-code each letter is entered individually into three separate subfields? Also, I had to enter each subfield individually so that each letter gets its own column in the spreadsheet!!!  Why catalogers? Why?

035 – OCLC #

050 – LOC Call Number

090 – Local Call Number

100 – Main Entry (Personal Name)

110 – Main Entry (Corporate Name)

240 – Uniform Title

245 – Title Statement

246 – Title Variation

260 – Publication

300 – Physical Description

362 – Dates of Publication

500 – General Note

510 – Citation & References

600 – Subject Entry – Personal Name

610 – Subject Entry – Corporate Name

611 – Subject Entry – Meeting Name

630 – Subject Entry – Uniform Title

648 – Subject Entry – Chronological Term

650 – Subject Entry – Topical Term

651 – Subject Entry – Geographic Name

653 – Index Term – Uncontrolled

655 – Index Term – Genre/Form

700 – Added Entry – Personal Name

740 – Added Entry – Uncontrolled Related Title

752 – Added Entry – Hierarchal Place Name

800 – Series Added Entry – Personal Name

830 – Series Added Entry – Uniform Title

852 – Location (Local)

856 – Electronic Location & Access

Having finally established all the MARC fields I needed. I returned to MARCedit to begin the process of exporting my final file. Under the “Tools” Menu I choose “Export Tab Delimited File” and set up a path to my new file, including the file name and .txt file type.

Exporting from MARCedit Step 1

Exporting from MARCedit Step 1

Next I entered each of the individual MARC fields I wanted for my report.

Exporting in MARCedit Step 2

Exporting from MARCedit Step 2

Once they were all entered I choose to export the file. I opened the text file just to check and make sure that it looked correct.

Exporting from MARCedit Step 3

Exporting from MARCedit Step 3

However I did not really want to keep my data as a .txt file. I wanted to be able to analyze the data and manipulate it in a table format. So I needed to import my .txt file into Microsoft Excel.

To be continued in Part 2… Revealing La Revolution: The Environmental Scan & Microsoft Excel, Part 2

*While I was working on this the government (including all Library of Congress webpages) was shut down. I had to use the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine to retrieve the information I needed.

French Pamphlets, Education, Thermometers, and Goodbyes

Hey there again, welcome to another blog post from the UMD Pamphlet Project! With the semester coming to a close, we’d like to give a general update with the latest developments from the trenches, provide a couple images from the most recent string of pamphlets, and discuss the next steps for the project going into the summer.

Towards the end of April, we finished inputting the last of our pamphlets concerning the French colonies. Although we’re sad to see no longer have any more colonial pamphlets to work with, we’re equally as excited by the works we’ve found in the collections related to education. Within this collection we’ve found some of the works of D’Alembert, Robespierre, and Abbé Grégoire.

In addition to these crucial figures of French intellectualism, we’ve found some really interesting designs and diagrams in our pamphlets like these below (Figures 1 and 2).

frenchpamphlet_1 Figure 2
Figure 1 Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 3

Both designs are from a pamphlet discussing experiments on latent heat using the thermometers shown in the two figures. These experiments were presented at the Académie de Sciences de Rouen in July 1787. In addition to the images from the experiments, we’ve also found a student schedule from l’École Royale Polytechnique for the 1826-1827 academic terms (see figure 3). If you thought you had routines, think again!

Figure 4

Figure 4

Lastly, I want to share another cool stamp, among a list of many others, from the Instruction Nationale de la République Française (See figure 4).

As the project moves forward we would like to wish a fond farewell to Annie Rehill, who will not be able to collaborate with us during the summer.

Please join us in wishing her well as she prepares for her PhD qualifying exams. As far as the pamphlets are concerned themselves, we are working with our collection of court cases for the time being. I was very excited to see that we are in possession of a number of documents concerning a case Beaumarchais filed to clear his name of slanderous accusations.

The pamphlets are no doubt rich, and we look forward to the next blog post to bring you another update from the UMD Pamphlet Project. Until next time, au revoir.

Revealing La Révolution: Digitized Pamphlets Accessible through WorldCat

WorldCat Navigation Tips

WorldCat Navigation Tips

Revised February 27, 2014
By Technical Lead John Schalow, Special Collections Cataloger/Coordinator

The University of Maryland Libraries’ French Pamphlet Collection is currently accessible through an inventory. But if you are looking for a specific title among the 5000 pamphlets in series one, you won’t find it quickly as series one is organized in boxes by broad subject. We don’t really know what titles are in each box and who has the time to look through all these boxes to find a title? Series two is an author/title list and while you can search the nearly 2000 titles in the PDF by keyword using the find function, this is time consuming. Therefore, we are currently identifying and analyzing the pamphlets in subject areas of interest to our faculty. The steps include compiling the data in a spreadsheet, selecting titles for digitization, and then creating machine readable catalog records for The cataloged pamphlets are under the call number DC141.F74 and those which are digitized are now in the catalog. The easiest way to browse them is to go to: select Libraries to search “University of Maryland, College Park” and type in the search box ho:pamphlets france aat  This search identifies all pamphlets with the genre heading “pamphlets France” and results in over 400 retrievals which you can limit by eBook format in the left-hand sidebar resulting in a view of digitized pamphlets. I have created a saved search in which retrieves only the French pamphlets. has powerful (but cryptic) command searches which are documented here.  For example, you can do a Library of Congress subject search for Haiti combined with the above search to see the French pamphlets about Haiti.  Hl:Haiti and ho:pamphlets france aat   You can also access all of the digitized French pamphlets via our local “classic” catalog using an advanced search, command search: WLC=DC141.F74 and WTO=eo  . Or this link:


Some of the pamphlet titles describe the contents pretty well, like Lettre du comte de Mirabeau à M. Le Couteulx de la Noraye, sur la Banque de Saint-Charles & sur la Caisse-d’escompte. But others do not! What is Les Abeilles de la Seine about? Bees of the Seine?? The cataloger has determined that it is a political satire and assigned this subject heading along with one for French revolution pamphlets. enables you to click on subject links to find other works of or about French political satire. Catalogers also perform research to identify anonymous authors. The title page and contents of another pamphlet,  Avis a la livrée, do not give the author, but the cataloger is able to attribute authorship to Louis Marie Prudhomme, which is reflected in the catalog record.

This cataloging effort facilitates efficient access to the pamphlets and in this way supports several of Ranganathan’s five laws of library science, especially  “every book its reader” and “save the time of the reader”. Take advantage of the improved access to these resources today and happy reading!

Revealing La Révolution: An update from the trenches

Hello and welcome back to our blog series! To read our first post, click here.

Before I begin discussing more intimate details of some of the materials our project works with, I thought I should take the time to give a brief overview of who we are and what we’re studying. There are four of us who read, decipher, and analyze the pamphlets. Matthew Jones is a student of library science at UMD. He also works on various other projects in Special Collections at UMD. In addition to Matthew, there are three students from the Department of French and Italian. Annie Rehill is a doctoral student in French working on post-colonial and French Canadian literature. Danica Hawkins is a first-year Masters student in French whose interests range from 17th century comedy to Proust. And I am Nathan Dize. I am finishing up my undergraduate career at UMD in English and French and will be joining Annie and Danica in the graduate program at UMD next fall.

Now that you know a bit more about the people on the front lines, it might be useful to know some of the subjects we’re working with. Since the beginning, we’ve been focusing on the pamphlets in three main subject categories: colonial documents, court cases, and education pamphlets. We initially began working on assigned subjects:  Annie working on education, Danica working on court cases, myself working on colonial documents and Matt working on a little bit of everything. However, this has changed more recently and now we are prioritizing the colonial documents and education pamphlets for the time being. Pending any changes, these are the subjects we will be working with throughout the remainder of the spring semester. I think I speak for the group when I say that it doesn’t matter to us which topics we work with because they are all so intriguing and impressive to work with. Saying that, my own personal interest is in the colonial documents where you can see the Haitian revolution unfolding before your very eyes.

One particular document of interest is an address to the Assemblée Nationale on behalf of French landowners in Saint-Domingue for preventative action against a slave rebellion. The address, an attempt to appeal to the Assemblée for immediate action, clearly documents the demographic disparity between slaves and white planters. The planters make the argument that the 10:1 slave to planter ratio is a recipe for disaster, which could lead to a slave revolt. The document peripherally discusses the use of slaves in the colony of Saint-Domingue, noting that the African slaves are physiologically suited to work in the harsh conditions of the Caribbean sugar cane fields. This is a multifaceted document revealing that Saint-Domingue was a ticking time bomb that was ready for a slave revolt, that there was a staunch defense of African slavery amidst the abolitionist movement lead by the Amis des Noirs, and finally that there was such a separation between the French planters and their fellow countrymen in Paris who had little sympathy for their impending troubles.

Finally, I’d like to share some cool images that I found while cataloging.


This is the cover page of an Address to the French National Assembly “for the free citizens of color, the islands, and the French colonies.”


Here is one of the various insignia we’ve found in the documents. This one says “Society of the friends of the constitution: Live free or die.”


This is one of my favorites. It is an entire page of handwritten script from the 18th century. There was marginalia written throughout the document and this was on the last page.


Thanks for reading our blog and please look forward to our next post coming soon!


Revealing La Révolution, one step at a time!

Revealing La Révolution (the project formerly known as “The UMD French Pamphlet Project”) is officially up and running.  We have finalized our project team, identified and hired three promising French graduate students to assist our rather lonely library school student. They are analyzing pamphlets like it is their job (well, I guess it technically IS their job).

Those of us on the project team are very happy to see things progressing, especially after devoting what seems like a very large percentage of our waking lives to French pamphlets over the past few weeks.  The first pamphlet the students picked up during training, from the month of pluviôse, year IV (1796), argued that “Le fléau de la royauté pesait encore sur la France” (The scourge of royalty still weighed on France).  Seeing their eyes light up at this and other treasures reminded us that the effort to analyze and digitize these items will definitely pay off for researchers in the end.

We have also been rewarded for our efforts by our success in overcoming some procedural challenges. One that led to a moment of pause: OCLC Connexion is probably the best tool for finding any existing records for these pamphlets, but is WAY too confusing for the French students to get up to speed quickly.  Solution? Let them use WorldCat local, watching out for its non-cataloger tendencies (who displays authors as first name last name, anyway?).  One of our students suggested writing abstracts instead of using subject headings, something that hadn’t even occurred to us.  Solution? Have some of the students use traditional subject headings, and one write up short abstracts.  It is a pilot project, after all.

Kelsey Corlett-Rivera

SLLC Librarian