Goldmine! Goldmine! Goldmine! Indeed, we enthuse.
In a recent post, we recommended the site of the Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français, but in our opinion, the superb library deserves a post of its own. Located on the border between the 6th and the 7th arrondissements in Paris, its door at the back of a courtyard, it is in no way obvious or obtrusive. It is so discrete one has the impression that persecution is still feared.
Within, is a collection unrivalled. Hundreds of books, manuscripts and journals make this the premier collection in the world on its subject. Tiny librarians in grey clothes and with grey hair guard the holdings which they know and understand brilliantly: they can bring forth ten books and manuscripts that answer a question before one has finished asking it.
Many of the manuscripts are of birth, marriage and death registers made and preserved by pastors. The originals may be in remote departmental archives, but researchers of rampant dedication have gone there and copied out the registers, bringing their manuscripts back to this library. They have also laboriously copied:
- court documents of prosecutions of Protestants,
- lists of Protestants whose belongings were confiscated, and the values of the belongings,
- lists of Protestants who emigrated,
- the texts of abjurations, or forced conversions,
- lists of Protestant children taken from their parents and put in convents,
- lists of pastors,
- journals and memoires
Probably the greatest coup, so far as genealogy is concerned, is that a pair of brothers named Haag copied out the registrations of many, many Protestants in the Hôtel de Ville of Paris, before it was burned.
Other treasures include archives donated from many Portestant churches, societies and centres. The Society has published, since 1977, the Cahiers du Centre de Généalogie Protestante, a quarterly of excellent, scholarly studies on Protestant families and groups. The library has all issues. It also has many of the publications of other Huguenot Societies around the world.
There is a fee to use the library, a mere pittance:
Daily - €5, Weekly - €13, three months' use - €23, one year - €54
Bibliotèque de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français
54, rue des Saint-Pères
telephone: (+33) 1 45 48 62 07
fax: (+33) 1 45 44 94 87
Monday to Wednesday: 13.00 to 17.30
Thursday and Friday: 10.00 to 17.30
There are many holiday closings. Check the website or ring to be sure.
©2009 Anne Morddel