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 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 WorldCat.org. 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: http://umaryland.worldcat.org/ 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 WorldCat.org which retrieves only the French pamphlets.  WorldCat.org 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: http://catalog.umd.edu/F/FTJ5TVJVLJKTRTB2QND7UBUHBQ4MTA4M2I81EQB2ANV8648RQ8-00851?func=find-c&ccl_term=wlc%3DDC141.F74+and+wty%3Deo&adjacent=N&x=28&y=6

 

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. WorldCat.org 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