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Florida State University Libraries

Napoleon and the French Revolution Collection, Special Collections Department

Collection Profile

During the 2002 ceremony naming history professor Donald D. Horward a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, several of his former students spoke about the importance of the Napoleon and the French Revolution Collection to their research. One hundred graduate students have received masters or doctoral degrees in French Revolutionary or Napoleonic era studies since Horward arrived at Florida State University in 1961 and began working with the University Libraries to build the collection into one of the finest in its field in the United States. In addition, more than 500 articles and scores of books have been based, at least in part, on research done in the collection.

Currently consisting of more than 20,000 volumes of published and unpublished material, the collection is strong in published memoirs, letters, serials, diaries, atlases, and government documents. In addition to standard resources such as the 32-volume Correspondence de Napoleon Ier (1858-1869) bound in red morocco and bearing the imperial crest of Napoleon III and the eight-volume Dispatches of Field Marshall the Duke of Wellington (1852), the collection includes many very rare items such as Le Nain jaune réfugié (1815-16); James Wyld's Maps and Plans, Showing the Principal Movements, Battles & Sieges in Which the British Army Was Engaged during the War from 1808 to 1814, in the Spanish Peninsula and the South of France (1840); and Collection générale des décrets rendus par l'Assemblée nationale, avec la mention des sanctions et acceptations données par le roi (1789-1791). Many volumes are held by no other library in an American university, and some are scarcely to be found in Europe.

Over the years, the collection has been enriched by purchases and generous gifts. Purchases include materials from the private collections of Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover, and of Phillipe Steenebrugen; from the collections of scholars of the period, including Octave Aubry, Jacques Arnna, Jean Regnault, and Marcel Dunan; and from the collection of Napoleonic bibliophile Marie-Antoinette Pardee. Among the gifts are twenty-six volumes of the French newspaper Gazette nationale; ou, Le Moniteur universel from Francois Ravidat, and from Dr. Ben Weider a complete set of the magnificent Description de l'Égypte, ou, Recueil de observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l'éxpédition de l'armée française (1808-1828), including the folio illustrations. In addition to printed and manuscript material, the collection contains several items of realia: a death mask of Napoleon cast from the mold created by Dr. Francis Burton who attended Napoleon on St. Helena; a set of eighty-two French medallions commemorating events from the Napoleonic era; and a facsimile of the Rosetta Stone. Materials acquired prior to 1973 are described in The French Revolution and Napoleon Collection at Florida State University: A Bibliographical Guide (1973), compiled by Horward and published by the Friends of The Florida State University Library. Bibliographic records for items in the collection are now searchable through the Libraries' online catalog.

Collection Profile and Overview: Lucia Patrick
Illustrations: Michele Edmunds/Giesele Towels

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