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French government documents and political pamphlets

Call Number: MS 1006

Scope and Contents

The largest part of this collection of printed matter is made up of censorship decrees issued by various government and ecclesiastical bodies between 1626 and 1789. Among those represented are: the Parlement of Paris; provincial Parlements; the king of France; the Conseil d'Etat du Roi; the Paris police (whose decrees were directed as much against the book trade as the individual author); the theological faculty at the Sorbonne; bishops, archbishops and the Pope (in decrees concerning France). Although most of the works falling under the ban are theological, there are also secular works of literature, history and philosophy in the list. Notable among them are the entire works of Voltaire (see the Arrest du Conseil d'Estat du Roy, 1785 Jun 3) and Helvetius' De l'Esprit, (banned in the papal decree of 1759 Jan 31).

The collection also includes a small amount of literature from the period of the French Revolution and some documents issued during the Napoleonic era. One Jugement dated 1792 Jan 24, has a holograph note on the last page reading: "Premier Jugement à mort par du Guillotine. Executé du Avril 1792." Three publications on Voltaire include two describing the ceremonies surrounding the removal of his body to the Pantheon in 1791 and a pamphlet (published in 1781) denouncing his writings to the Parlement of Paris.

The material was organized and annotated by Jeffrey Merrick in 1978.

The papers are divided into two series. Series I contains censorship decrees (1626-1789). Series II is a small collection of political pamphlets and government decrees (1789-1904).


  • 1626-1804

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


Arranged in two series: I. Decrees Condemning Books, 1626-1789. II. Miscellaneous Political Pamphlets and Government Documents, 1789-1804.


2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Printed censorship decrees (1626-1789) issued by the Parlement of Paris, provincial Parlements, the Conseil d'Etat du Roi, bishops and archbishops in France, Pope Clemens XI, and others make up the largest part of the French government documents and political pamphlets. Most of the works banned are ecclesiastical. A small amount of political literature and government decrees from the period of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era are also included.

Other Finding Aids

For a listing of books for which censorship decrees were issued, please consult theBanned Books Index.

Guide to the French Government Documents and Political Pamphlets, 1626-1804
Under Revision
compiled by Ruth Gay
October 1979
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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