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Maclure Collection of French Revolutionary Materials

A major collection of printed documents from the era of the French Revolution, the Maclure Collection comprises approximately 25,000 pamphlets and periodicals published in France from the late 1780s to ca. 1815. These sources provide in-depth documentation of political, economic, legal debates, and the socio-cultural struggles, during the tumultuous years of the Revolution.

1789 printed copy of the Declaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen.

Collection Overview

The Maclure Collection is made up of over 1400 bound volumes of pamphlets, periodicals, and other printed items. The total number of individual imprints is approximately 25,000.

Very few of the individual imprints in the Maclure Collection are cataloged in the online catalogue, Franklin. Researchers must rely upon the 1966 printed catalogue of the collection: The Maclure Collection of French Revolutionary Materials, edited by James D. Hardy, Jr., John H. Jensen, and Martin Wolfe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1966). As outlined there, the collection is divided into the following broad categories:

  • Periodicals: as summarized by Hardy and Jensen, there are 677 volumes of periodicals, organized by title and by date, published between 1768 and 1815.
  • The journaux of the debates of the Etats-généraux, the Assemblée nationale, and the Convention nationale.
  • Procès-verbaux of the legislative bodies, including Parisian and some provincial materials.
  • Financial reports.
  • Volumes organized by subject covering a very broad range of topics.

The indices to the printed catalogue allow the collection to be searched by names of authors, députés, and committees. Subject descriptions, however, are limited to the brief descriptions of each volume.

The Maclure Collection was microfilmed in near-entirety. Many research libraries hold these microfilms, and research may access the microform set held in Van Pelt Library.

Please contact the Kislak Center for more information about accessing the original volumes of the Maclure Collection.

Accordion List

These materials appear to have been collected during the Revolution or shortly after. The original collector is not known: John H. Jensen has suggested that it may be Marc-Antoine Jullien de Paris, a journalist and Jacobin who may have known William Maclure (see Jensen, "Collector and Collection: A Note," The Maclure Collection of French Revolutionary Materials , xx-xxiii). They were acquired ca. 1815-19 by Maclure (1763-1840), a merchant, geologist, and social reformer. Maclure brought the collection to Philadelphia. It has passed through several institutions in Philadelphia: originally donated by Maclure to the Academy of Natural Sciences (of which he was an early member), it passed to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and then to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries in 1949. The volumes were rebound by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries after they arrived (between 1949 and 1962).

Subsequent acquisitions made for the rare book and special collections have significantly augmented holdings relating to the French Revolutionary era, the Consulate and the First Empire. Examples include:


Featured image: One of the earliest printed versions of the 1789 Declaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen: Extraits des procès-verbaux de l'Assemblée nationale (Paris, 1789?) (Maclure Collection vol. 883, no. 9)