We are very much indebted to Monsieur D.C. for informing us about the wonderful website and free databases of The Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language (The ARTFL Project) at the University of Chicago. Monsieur D.C. told us of the database, Dictionnaires d'autrefois, which allows one
"to simultaneously query Jean Nicot's Thresor de la langue française (1606), Jean-François Féraud's Dictionaire critique de la langue française (1787-1788), Émile Littré's Dictionnaire de la langue française (1872-1877) and the Dictionnaire de L'Académie française 1st (1694), 4th (1762), 5th (1798), 6th (1835), and 8th (1932-5) editions."
To test it, we pulled out our battered list of words the definitions of which we have not been able to find in our modern French dictionary, nor in our grandmother's pink Petit Larousse Illustré, nor online. What a delight it was to find all of our mystery words defined via this single database.
Other databases available to the public at no charge include:
- The ARTFL Encyclopédie, a complete on-line version of the first edition of Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie with Panckoucke's 4-volume Supplément à l'Encyclopédie
- L'Encyclopédie méthodique: Search the two Architecture & three Beaux-arts volumes of Panckoucke's 18th- and 19th-century reference work.
- The Bibliothèque bleue de Troyes: Online collection of 252 chapbooks from the 16th to 18th centuries.
- L'Ami du peuple: Full text edition of Jean-Paul Marat's famed French Revolutionary newspaper.
- TOUT VOLTAIRE: Online edition of all of Voltaire’s works, aside from his correspondence. A collaboration between the ARTFL Project an the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford.
- Rousseau Online: PhiloLogic version of rousseauonline.ch, a digital edition of Rousseau's Collection complète des Œuvres published under a Creative Commons Licence in 2012 by infoclio.ch.
- La Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique de Grimm et de Diderot.: Full text high-quality OCR edition of the 18th-century cultural newsletter, with page images.
- Théâtre classique: 456 classical French theatre texts.
- The Montaigne Project: Full text searching of Montaigne's Essais with page images from the Bordeaux Copy.
- Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus: Madeleine & Georges de Scudéry's 17th-century novel.
- Ephraim Chamber's Cyclopaedia: English precursor to the Encyclopédie.
- Balzac. La Comédie humaine: Online critical edition with full text searching and supporting material.
- A link to the Bibliothèques Virtuelles Humanistes (BVH), where the Epistemon Project at the Université François-Rabelais de Tours is hosted at ARTFL.
- Multilingual Bible Project: Bibles in Latin, French, German, and English.
- Perseus under PhiloLogic: The Perseus Digital Library of Classical texts available using the PhiloLogic search engine.
There are further databases which require access to the libraries and services of North American or French institutions which subscribe to the ARTFL Project:
- Main Database: ARTFL-FRANTEXT, over 3500 texts ranging from classic works of French literature to various kinds of non-fiction prose and technical writing from the 12th to the 20th century.
- French Women Writers, over 100 works by French women authors from the 16th to the 19th century.
- Provençal Poetry, 38 collections of texts from the 12th and 13th centuries.
- Textes de Français Ancien (TFA), 103 works from the 12th through 15th century.
- The Journal de Trévoux, ou Mémoires pour l'Histoire des Sciences & des Beaux-Arts. 109 volumes, 1751-1758.
- Pierre Bayle, Dictionnaire historique et critique (5th Edition, 1740).
- Louis Moréri, Le Grand dictionnaire historique, ou le Mélange curieux de l'Histoire sacrée et profane, etc. (1759).
- Opera del Vocabolario Italiano (OVI) Database, 1,960 vernacular texts dated prior to 1375, including Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, as well as many lesser-known texts.
But for the dictionaries, these databases may not further your genealogical research much, but they will certainly expand your knowledge of the thinking, culture and history of your French ancestors. Thank you very much Monsieur D.C.!
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©2014 Anne Morddel