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Lorraine Beitler Collection of the Dreyfus Affair

Beginning in 1894 and lasting until 1906, the Dreyfus Affair denotes the political and social crisis surrounding the conviction of French military officer Alfred Dreyfus on charges of treason. The Lorraine Beitler Collection of the Dreyfus Affair documents the history of the Affair and its impact on the art, society, and politics of France and the modern world.

Public ceremony demoting and degrading Alfred Dreyfus, January 5, 1895

Collection Overview

The Beitler Collection includes over 1,000 items documenting the history of the Dreyfus Affair and its aftermath. All of the major events of the Affair, from the wrongful conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus for treason in 1894, to Emile Zola's galvanizing statement headlined "J'Accuse . . .!" in 1898, to Dreyfus' long awaited exoneration in 1906 are represented by original items in the collection. 

The power of print media was crucial in swaying public opinion during the Affair, and the Collection contains many examples of the diverse genres and formats of printed matter from the period. These include posters, broadsides, newspapers, magazines, prints, caricatures, books, and postcards. The Collection also includes original correspondence, photographs, and material artifacts which record the impact of the Affair in its own time and help document its memorialization through the subsequent decades.

Assembled by Dr. Beitler as a resource for scholars, a teaching collection for students, and as a traveling exhibition designed to stimulate discussion of the issues of prejudice, racism, and social injustice in the 20th and 21st centuries, the Collection was gifted to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries in 2002.

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Featured image: "Le Traître. Dégradation d'Alfred Dreyfus", detail from Le Petit Journal. Supplement illustre, January 13, 1895, p. 1, Lorraine Beitler Collection of the Dreyfus Affair (P.pj.2).