Update on the Cambridge Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection, 1944-1946

The Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection, 1944-1946, which consists of books and pamphlets in French on the Second World War, the Occupation and the Liberation, has become a major part of the French Special collections at Cambridge University Library. In 2014 the Liberation collection comprised 600 volumes, but it now includes over 3000 items. Over the years, staff from the Collections and Academic Liaison and the Rare Books departments have contributed to the processing, cataloguing and promotion of the collection, including Sophie Defrance, Sophie Dubillot, Josh Hutchinson, David Lowe and Clara Panozzo Zénere. We are now very pleased to be able to recruit a new cataloguer who will be in charge of cataloguing the last 1000 books of the collection!

The collection, donated to Cambridge University Library by Charles Chadwyck-Healey, started in 2001 with the purchase of the photographic album by Jean Éparvier, À Paris, sous la botte des nazis, Éditions Raymond Schall, 1944 (Liberation.a.33), and is very rich in illustrated books. In 2014, for the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris, the collection was the focus of a Cambridge University Library exhibition: Literature of the Liberation, the French Experience in Print, 1944-1946 (see Cam.b.2014.25).


In 2017, the Liberation Literature Lecture Series started with a lecture by Professor Julian Jackson on ‘De Gaulle at the Liberation’. This year, on 1 November 2018, the writer Anne Sebba talked about ‘Parisian women and the Nazi occupation’. Her lecture was accompanied by a display of books from the Liberation collection focusing on pictures of women during the war and the Liberation, and on women’s narratives of resistance and deportation.



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Full records of books from the Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection on the Cambridge University Library online catalogue provide thematic, geographic and chronological subject headings, which allow the reader to navigate the collection and proceed to targeted searches.

Title page and inscription of Paris de ma fenêtre by Colette (Liberation.c.722)

idiscoverDetailed catalogue records on iDiscover include information regarding numbered copies and limited editions, providing material for research into the history of the books and the printers involved in their manufacture. Copy-specific notes record inscriptions, signatures and dedications, which often highlight the provenance of the book and its circulation, as the collection is very rich in special copies. The cataloguing of books from the Chadwyck-Healey Liberation often necessitates the creation of new Library of Congress “authorities”, unique records for the authors and artists who contributed to these books, which often need a little bit of research.


The Liberation collection is already starting to become a reference, both with Cambridge University Library as a place to study these primary historical resources, and in terms of bibliography. We are looking forward to welcoming the new cataloguer, so that we can provide records and access to the full Liberation collection, supporting teaching and research, in Cambridge University and beyond.

Irène Fabry-Tehranchi

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