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French Revolution & Napoleon Collections


"Letter from the Army of the French Republic regarding General Macdonald," November 14, 1800, French Revolution Collection on Camille Desmoulins, Lucile Duplesis, and Arthur Dillon, 1702-1876, ​Box 1, Folder 4, Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. Available in our Digital Library.

History of the Collection

Florida State University’s Doctoral program in History began in 1958. As a means of expanding the strength of the History Department, the University created a faculty position specializing in the French Revolution. Dr. Donald Horward oversaw the beginning of the collection when Government funding came to the history department to augment its holdings in the Napoleonic Period of which there were less than 300 works in Strozier at the time. The Collection began with Rare Books by and about Revolutionary figures like Murat and Napoleon Bonaparte himself. By 1973, the collection grew to around 5000 titles. Special Collections & Archives continues to develop this area which has expanded to over 10,000 Rare Books, Manuscripts, and other paramount artifacts such as Napoleon’s Death Mask.

Exciting Additions 

Special Collections received the Michael La Vean Collection in 2018. This over-4000-book collection adds new depth to the existing Napoleon Collection with its strength in women’s narratives.  Researchers may be interested in this collection because of its emphasis on gender studies, history of sex, European naval history, military uniforms, and the history of European royalty. This collection is currently in cataloging but remains accessible to researchers. To find out more about this collection, please contact Special Collections & Archives.


Locating Materials in Special Collections & Archives

FSU Libraries Catalog Advanced Search -
The FSU Libraries Catalog is the best source of information on rare books collections. It also includes description of some archival collections, with links out to finer description in the Finding Aid Database (see below).

  • To limit your search results to Special Collections holdings, use the facet Library: “FSU STROZIER, Special Coll” located on the left-hand side menu of your search results
  • Limiting search by year (“Start and End Dates”) is often useful to Special Collections researchers
  • Sort or Narrow search results using terms in left-hand column
  • Click through search results to get full records for books or collections
  • Anything mentioning “Special Coll” in Location information is available through the Special Collections Research Center reading room in 110 Strozier Library
  • To request specific books in reading room, use the Title and Call Number (Location). For example, to see this book, (Links to an external site.), ask for Sketches of St. Augustine, Special Coll Florida -- F319.S2 S5 1849.

Finding Aid Database -
The Finding Aid Database is the best source of information about our archives collections. 

  • Searches can be limited by record type; keyword, title, creator, and subject; and by date
  • Filter search results using terms in right-hand column
  • Click through search results to get full records for collections or archival items
  • Researchers can browse by topical area by clicking on “Classifications”
  • Most collections available through the Special Collections Research Center reading room in 110 Strozier Library
  • Some collections note that “Users may access this collection at the Claude Pepper Library” - Claude Pepper Center, 636 W Call St
  • To request specific items in the reading room, use the collection title, collection Identifier, and box number (citation)
  • Collections belonging to non-FSUL repositories can be accessed by using the contact information on the Repository’s page

Digital Library -
The FSU Digital Library Includes digital copies of Special Collections & Archives items, born-digital collections, and digital objects hosted for other organizations

  • Use keyword search at the top of the screen, advanced search in the tool bar, or click through themed collections to discover digital objects
  • Sort or Narrow results using terms in left-hand column or search within a collection using the search box on the right side.
  • Click through Search Results to get full records and see digital copies
  • Summary tab - see a digital copy
  • Item Description tab - information about the digital object
  • Click through “Subject(s)” to find related digital items
  • Check the “Is Part Of” field to find related items in Special Collections & Archives
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