Each month, a postgraduate student or an early career researcher shares their experiences of using a particular archive. The overall aim of this section is to create a database of the different archives available to those working on French and Francophone studies that will be of help particularly to students just starting out in research.
Panagiotis Georgakakis is a fourth year PhD candidate in the School of History, Reformation Studies at the University of St. Andrews. Here he talks about his research on Huguenot gazettes at the University of Leiden library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Searching for surviving issues of the Huguenot gazettes that were published in the Dutch Republic during the second half of the seventeenth century is not an easy task. If you are lucky, then you will find issues in the most extraordinary archives, but if you are not, then you do not any other choice than to study those issues which are already known. Thankfully, from the very beginning of my PhD, I was extremely lucky in this quest.
My first trip was to Leiden to visit the University Library. It is an impressive, modern building and the special collections’ room has the perfect view from the top floor. The library is near the city centre and exactly opposite the university. I recommend the library café. The staff in the special collections were extremely helpful and polite, despite my frequent requests for more archives. As it was my first research trip, I did not know where to look first. But, as I said, beginner’s luck made its appearance. As I was studying Bayle’s letters to find some references to these gazettes, I accidentally came across a handful of issues of Gazette d’ Amsterdam and Nouvelles extraordinaires de divers endroits. These were two of the most famous gazettes published in the Dutch Republic by Huguenots during the time of the War of the Grand Alliance and the War of the Spanish Succession. Huguenot refugees sought sanctuary in the Dutch Republic after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and soon Huguenot editors and publishers established their own gazettes. I was very excited. These issues were considered lost, and the library did not know about their existence. The curator, Dr. Anton van der Lem, was also excited about this discovery. Dr. Van der Lem is an enthusiastic scholar who shows a sincere interest in any research, and he helps all the researchers in his library, especially the new ones.
The library also holds the archives of the Walloon church of Leiden. They comprise seven tomes, and constitute an extremely useful source about the lives of the first Huguenot refugees in the Dutch Republic.
The library is next to the city center which is full of good restaurants and cafés. I suggest the WAAG in Aalmarkt street for both food and coffee. However, the university also has a very good restaurant with a good variety of food.
The discoveries I made in Leiden gave me the necessary boost to continue my research. My next stop was Paris. I spent a month there visiting as many libraries as I could. Having visited Paris many times, I strongly believe that the best period to stay there is from the end of August to mid-October. I spent most of my time studying and researching in the BnF, although my favourite library is the Mazarine. What an amazing library! In the BnF, I discovered new issues of the gazettes, which gave me the opportunity to enrich the current bibliography about French gazettes with more updated information. As I was spending six to eight hours there every day, it was essential to have a good break. So it was really refreshing to find a different kiosk making street food outside BnF or young artists presenting their work. I am now wondering why I left Paris.
Panagiotis Georgakakis is a fourth year PhD candidate in the School of History, Reformation Studies at the University of St. Andrews. He is currently finishing his dissertation on the Huguenot gazettes published in the Dutch Republic, 1677-1701.
Thank you very much for this, Panagiotis!