A unique collection, at the heart of which is the history of France.
History books and journals
The history of France – one of BnF’s centers of excellence – is exhaustively represented. The history of European countries (mainly Germany, England, Spain, and Italy) and colonial history are also covered thoroughly. The history of other parts of the world is covered from more of an overall perspective. The emphasis is placed on regions under French influence and relations between France and Europe.
Le court bouillon de Mazarin, 17th century
The Library’s collections of history books and journals include both French and foreign publications dating from the 16th century to the present day.
The Reference library
offers materials facilitating an initial approach to historical research
, including in particular the Bibliographie annuelle de l’histoire de France
The Research library’s
open-access materials include research tools
(including the Catalogue de l’histoire de France
and a consolidated inventory of archives), recent works providing researchers with information on current events in international historical research
, a selection of leading French and foreign journals, and texts which are of critical importance to historians
, some of which are in very old editions.
These include the following:
- a collection of unpublished materials on the history of France (from documentary sources up to the revolutionary period)
- the Mercure de France
- the Monumenta Germaniae historiae series
The Research library’s closed-stack collections
contain essential sources for historical research. These include, for example, the following:
- on the history of France, details of the meetings of Revolutionary Assemblies and Mazarinades (satirical or burlesque verse and prose pamphlets published at the time of the Fronde against Cardinal Mazarin)
- on the history of European countries, sources on Italian wars and the Napoleonic conquests
- on colonial history, the full range of colonial newspapers.
Also worthy of mention are special collections
arising from donations or bequests. Although much smaller in volume, these collections are often exceptionally extensive. Examples are the Le Senne collection on the history of Paris (bequeathed by erudite collector Eugène Le Senne in 1924), the Larrey collection (an 1896 donation mainly consisting of materials on the Empire), and the Châtre de Cangé collection, located in the Rare Books Reserve (Réserve des livres rares), on the administration of the Ancien Régime.
The History section of the old collection held at the Arsenal Library (Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal)
is very extensive. For example, it includes thousands of Mazarinades, a large amount of material on the history of Paris, books bequeathed by Abbé Grégoire on the African slave trade, and special collections such as the Enfantin and Saint-Simonian collections.