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Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts

Call Number: GEN MSS 982

Scope and Contents

The Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts contains papers of both Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont, intermixed. The papers include holograph manuscripts by Tocqueville (including the manuscript of De La Démocratie en Amérique), Beaumont, their families and associates, as well as holograph copies by contemporary and later copyists, and photo-duplicated copies of originals held elsewhere.

The collection includes correspondence and documents relating to Tocqueville's and Beaumont's visit to the United States, 1831-32, and investigations of the American penitentiary system.

Locations of some originals from which the Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts copies were made are unknown. Some are known or believed to have been destroyed. For further information, contact the curator.


  • circa 1802-1960
  • Majority of material found within 1831 - 1840


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research. Box 3: Restricted fragile material. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

For information about Yale's acquisition of the materials which make up the Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts, consult the curator.


28.95 Linear Feet ((86 boxes) + 1 roll)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts collection contains papers of both Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont, intermixed. The papers include correspondence, personal papers, and autograph manuscripts by Tocqueville (including the autograph manuscript of De La Democratie en Amerique), Beaumont, and their families and associates, as well as autograph copies of Tocqueville and Beaumont documents by contemporary and later copyists, and photoduplicated copies of originals held elsewhere in other public and private collections.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), French politician and author, best known for his Democracy in America (1835, 1840).

Table of Abbreviations Used in this Catalogue

Bonnel - "Instituteur" at the Elementary School, Tocqueville, Manche. The copies of the Tocqueville Tocqueville Mss. (i.e., Tocqueville manuscripts at the Tocqueville chateau, see below) were made almost entirely by him: first, for Neal Lambert White (below), then for Prof. John M. S. Allison and the White Collection on deposit in the library, then for GWP and the Yale Library. Until 1930 virtually all his copying was done into bound cahiers or copybooks. Then he used some long, lined legal- size sheets for additional items required by GWP. His hand is very clear and unmistakable. He was a faithful but not very imaginative copyist. He attempted to indicate when the original was not in Alexis de Tocqueville's hand.

Bt. - Gustave de Beaumont (1802-1866).

Bt. la Ch. - The chateau de la Borde, Beaumont la Chartre, Sarthe. The family Gentilhommiere of Beaumont's parents and his own home in later life. (now sold)

Doysie - Abel Doysie, in charge of having copies of French Diplomatic Archives made for the Library of Congress. His secretaries made the copies for White (below) of the Tocqueville American Manuscripts which White found at Redier's office in Paris and set aside temporarily to be copied. These copies were well done by two women: Mme. Desorments and Mademoiselle Anacreon (Mme. Jouhet) on long, lined, legal-size sheets, using the key numbers of White's inventory 3W (1920-1921) (see E.IV.e.).

Fabius - Emmanuel Fabius of Paris, joint owner of many Lafayette manuscripts, and donor of some Tocqueville items to GWP in 1956.

GWP - George Wilson Pierson, who began working on the Yale Tocqueville Archive in 1928 or 1929.

H. - Harvard (Widener) Library.

HJC - Harold Jefferson Coolidge.

HSP - Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Hunt. - Huntington Library, California.

Jardin - Andre Jardin: See E IV.e for information re A.J.; also see E.VI.e.8.

Langavant - Mme. de Langavant of St. Malo, a descendant of Beaumont's brother, Achille.

Larminat - Madeleine (Mme. Michel) de Larminat, daughter of Mme. de Beaumont-Hennocque and great grand-daughter of Gustave de Beaumont. Donor or vendor of most of the Beaumont manuscripts in the Yale Tocqueville Mss., 1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1969, 1973.

LC - Library of Congress: Ms. Division.

MHS - Massachusetts Historical Society.

NYHS - New York Historical Society.

Photo - Photograph or photostat.

Pub. Arch. C. - Public Archives of Canada.

Redier - Antoine Redier, author of Comme disait M. de Tocqueville ... (1926), in whose Paris office White found many Tocqueville manuscripts.

Redier Mss. - Tocqueville manuscripts in Redier's Paris office in the years 1920-21.

Robson - Prof. Robson, formerly working on Francis Lieber at the Huntington library (Hunt).

Romanet - Romanet family, branch of Bt. family.

Stoffels - Stoffels family - especially Mlle. Stoffels d'Hautefort.

T. & B. in Am. - Tocqueville and Beaumont in America (1938) by GWP.

Tocqueville - Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859).

Tocqueville Tocqueville Mss. - His Mss. at Tocqueville chateau in the years 1929-31.

White - Paul Lambert White (1890-1922). It was White who, as a beginning instructor at Yale, first looked up the Tocqueville and Beaumont families, saw Tocqueville and Beaumont Mss. at Tocqueville, at Redier's Paris office and perhaps also in the hands of the Beaumont family, and made three catalogues (plus some extracts and translations) and started having copies made for Yale by Bonnel and by Doysie's copyists.

Processing Information

The collection is comprised of material formerly classed as: MS Vault Tocqueville. It received preliminary processing and rehousing at several points between 1959 and 1996 during the enlargements and revisions of the original list by George W. Pierson (see below). Further rehousing was carried out in 2014, and box numbers were added to the 1996 version of this finding aid.

The list of Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts (aka Catalogue Y) was originally constructed by George W. Pierson in 1938. Subsequently, it was enlarged and revised in 1959, enlarged again and retyped in 1964-66, with corrections and insertions added in 1970 and 1974. In 1995-96, the list was scanned using OCR software and edited and formatted for online display. At that time, some editorial comments, superceded bibliographies of related publications of possible interest, and recommendations for further studies, since completed, were deleted. To consult a copy of the original paper version of this "Catalogue Y", contact the curator.

As a result of the frequent revisions and additions, by several individuals, inconsistencies in the format of entries and abbreviations will be found. In many instances, provenance of items is noted, as is the identity of copyists. The "present" location (or disappearance, known or assumed) of many originals is noted in the typed copy of White's original catalogue: 1W and 3W (see E.IV.e). For further information on provenance and copyists, see "Table of Abbreviations Used in this Catalogue." For additional information concerning the content or form of this list, consult the curator.

For explanations of additional "catalogues" of Tocqueville manuscripts referenced in the list, see section E.IV.e, "Catalogues and Inventories of Tocqueville Manuscript Collections." For information about additional and related holdings in the Beinecke Library, consult the Access Services staff or the curator.

Guide to the Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts
Under Revision
by Beinecke staff
June 1996
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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