Friday, August 29, 2008

French 19th-20th century primary sources

I recently received the following reference question, and thought that the question and answer would be of interest to many of you:

"... I was hoping you might be able to point me to some on-line databases containing 19th and 20th century French nonfiction texts--histories, political account, travel diaries, etc.--the kind of
stuff that would be available in the eighteenth-century collections database but for a later period? I'm also wondering if there are any on-line collections of French newspapers?"

That's a good question -

Actually, the BnF is in the process of digitizing and making available French 19th century newspapers in Gallica, its digital library. If you go to the main (old) Gallica site**:,

click on : Consultez la Presse quotidienne dans Gallica

and then you can see the journal titles available now (linked) and in the future (unlinked). Currently you can consult fascicules from the 19th and early 20th centuries of:

* Le Figaro et son supplément littéraire
* Le Temps
* La Croix
* L'Humanité
* La Presse
* Le Journal des débats
* Ouest-Eclair (éditions de Rennes, Caen et Nantes)

There are plans to digitize the following additional newspapers:

# Le Gaulois
# Le Petit Parisien et son supplément hebdomadaire
# La Lanterne et son supplément hebdomadaire
# L'Intransigeant
# La Justice
# Le Matin
# L'Aurore
# L'Action française
# Le Constitutionnel
# L'Univers
# Le Siècle
# Le Petit Journal et son supplément hebdomadaire
# Le Rappel
# Gil Blas et son supplément hebdomadaire
# L'Echo de Paris

Another place for 19th century non-fiction is the database "Making of the Modern World" which contains the titles in the Goldsmiths'-Kress microfilm collection, plus additional works. You can find this from the Databases page. This in not specifically French, but contains many French language works.

Finally, the ARTFL database main collection, FRANTEXT, contains non-fiction works in addition to literature. From the ARTFL website, you can also access digital versions of the Center for Research Libraries' pamphlets and newspapers from the Revolution of 1848.

Does anyone have any additional ideas to add?

** the BnF is currently adding material to Gallica2, which uses OCR to make its contents text-searchable. A test site is at

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brought to you by...
Sarah Sussman, curator of French and Italian Collections