Online Sources for Teaching the French Revolution

It is not so surprising that the incontournable French Revolution has inspired several online sources projects.

(1) The French Revolution Digital Archive (FRDA) is probably the best place to start. Set up in collaboration between Stanford University Libraries and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), the aim was to digitise sources of the French Revolution and make them accessible to scholars around the world. Based on the Archives parlementaires and the Images de la Revolution française, it’s rich body of sources will undoubtedly have material to inspire seminars.

Print of the Guillotine (1793) (2) The Waddesdon Manor – a beautiful country home built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the second half of the 19th century – contains Images of the French Revolution in its collections. These have been digitised and uploaded onto their website, and are accessible to use. Students will surely love a good print of Louis XVI being guillotined, and there’s plenty more to explore.

Lettre historique sur la mort sublime de Louis XVI (1793)(3) Pamphlets of the French Revolution – a great source for historians of this period. The digitisation of such sources means that historians now have new ways to access this material. And whilst translations are far more rare, using original sources can help students visualise the period they are studying. What did the French Revolution pamphlets that they learn about in lectures and key readings look like? The Newberry Library’s French Revolution Collection has ’30,000 pamphlets’ and ‘180 periodicals’ from the 1780-1810 period, an incredible collection which can be used by historians, but could also be used in the classroom to help students connect with the period.


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