The Archives numériques de la Révolution française (the French Revolution Digital Archive), a collaboration between the Stanford University Libraries and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, gives us an opportunity to highlight how online resources are enriching and supplementing the collections of libraries in Cambridge.
The goal of the Archives numériques de la Révolution française is to “produce a digital version of the key research sources of the French Revolution and make them available to the international scholarly community. The archive is based around two main resources, the Archives parlementaires and a vast corpus of images first brought together in 1989 and known as the Images de la Revolution française“.
The Images de la Revolution comprises 14,000 images that were brought together by the BnF in 1989 to mark the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. The database describes the resources thusly: “Over 14,000 image-based items, primarily prints from the Departement des Estampes et de la Photographie, but also illustrations, medals, coins, and other objects, were selected for inclusion from across the BnF’s departments. Many originally entered the BnF on legal deposit, but others come from important collections acquired in the 19th and early 20th century”. They are all now available online as a browsable and searchable archive.
The Archives parlementaires is a publication which began in the 19th century, and aims to provide a definitive record of parliamentary deliberations. Because of copyright limitations, the Archives parlementaires volumes on the Archives numériques cover the years 1787-1794 only. However, they have been digitally enhanced so that speakers, places, dates, and terms in the published index can be easily found.
The University Library has the first two series of the Archives parlementaires: one that started in 1862 and was completed in 1913 by vol. 127; and the other which began publication in 1879, vol. 102 was received in 2012. Despite the much wider range of dates held by the University Library, our holdings are significantly supplemented by the Archives numériques de la Révolution française due to the database’s easy search capabilities. While poring through 19th century publications may present many pleasures for a historian, their ease of use and searchability cannot compare to a modern database.