Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bibliothèque nationale de France - Virtual exhibitions, and France in America

While looking for a specific Medieval painting for Amanda's color feast (I found the uncredited painting in a book, but have yet to find it online, alas; Medieval art can be sooo colorful), I came across the virtual exhibitions of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, aka BNF, and managed to find my way to a version of the website in English. There's some good stuff there.

See, for instance: The sea
Also: Medieval bestiary

Getting out of the virtual exhibits, I found a France in America section:

Conceived in partnership with the Library of Congress - the great library of Washington - La France en Amérique/France in America is a bilingual digital library made available by the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It explores the history of the French presence in North America from the first decades of the 16th Century to the end of the 19th Century.

Through direct digital access to complete books, maps, prints, and other documents from the collections of the partner libraries, the project illuminates two major themes in the history of relations between France and the United States: the major role played by France in the exploration and settlement of the continent and its participation in several events which indelibly marked the history of the United States: the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, and the cession of Louisiana. The site will be completed in fall 2006 with a panorama of economic, scientific, literary and artistic exchanges between the two nations in the course of the 19th Century.

The missions of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Library of Congress are to make their resources available to ever growing numbers of people and to preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. La France en Amérique / France in America is the newest addition to Gallica, the Bibliothèque nationale de France's digital library. With some 76 thousand digitized texts and 80 thousand images to date, Gallica offers the online public an encyclopedic reference collection as well as sites dedicated to particular themes. The companion site at the Library of Congress is part of the Global Gateway project, whose mission is to establish cooperative digital libraries with national libraries from around the world.


This digital collection takes its place alongside two other websites brought online since 2003 dedicated to the shared history of France and North America: La Louisiane française, 1682-1803 (, produced by the Ministry of Culture as part of the "National Celebrations" collection; and the French-Canadian site Nouvelle-France, horizons nouveau (, undertaken by the initiative of the Direction des archives de France, the Library and Archives Canada, and the Canadian Embassy in Paris.

The Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Library of Congress present these documents as part of the record of the past. These historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The two libraries do not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.

So, what are you doing still hanging around here? ;)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Without the French, America would never have been born. We do owe them a great deal. Likewise, at least for the 13 colonies, no one really wanted to be French. The French Revolution and Napoleon are the road not taken.

The historians I have read posit that the triumph of the British Empire kept us safe during our youth, for despite our quarrels with England, they at least seemed familiar enemies. But who could understand the French (not even Thos. Jefferson perhaps).

We in the South, prior to Katrina, have always had a love/hate relationship with New Orleans. It is a place to know about, but not to want to abide near. It was just too different. As for the Canadians, well, without Quebec, how much happier that poor country might have been! Yet both N.O. and Que. have beauties all their own, especially when seen from the inside.

Your links are good ones, although I have just tried a few. Another note: one historian says that the 13 colonies, for the most part, might have stayed on good terms with many of the Indian tribes, except for--guess!-- the political intrigue of first, the French, and then later, the English. France vs. England vs. the new United States is very much the story of our nation's early years.