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.

Continue reading

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, 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

The Revolution: French Pamphlets Illuminating the Past

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.

Les Miserables movie poster

Click the image to visit the IMDB page for the 2012 movie Les Misérables.

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.

Learn more about the incredible project at this page.

Read about the grants and partnerships that allowed this project to happen.