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This page provides pointers to databases bought or subscribed to by the Library which are of particular French interest. The databases are listed alphabetically in two groups (textual resources and bibliographical resources), with brief summaries of their contents and capabilities. Each database listed below is also linked to its entry on the Library's main eresources pages, where access requirements can be found.

Textual resources

Archives Historiques

Online access to the digitized Journal de Genève founded by James Fazy, the Swiss daily (1826-1998). Includes also La Gazette de Lausanne and Le Nouveau Quotidien.


The ARTstor digital library provides millions of arts and humanities images for research and teaching purposes. Users can browse by a number of categories as well as perform specific searches. The main categories are: geography (countries), classification (specific subjects or genres) and collections, and these are divided in turn into the appropriate geographical or classification subdivisions. For example, a geography category browse shows that there are over 93,000 images associated with France, of which over 9,200 relate to the classification subdivision Manuscripts and Manuscript Illuminations. A collection category browse shows that there are 3,570 images in Réunion des Musées Nationaux and almost 250 in "Le Corbusier" (Dalhousie University).
(Statistics as of 1 August 2012)

CAIRN French Studies Collection

CAIRN, which is supported by the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Centre national du livre, offers major journals in the various fields of the humanities and social sciences

Cambridge companions online / Cambridge histories online

A large number of books are available electronically from Cambridge Collections Online and can be found through searches on the LibrarySearch catalogue. Two databases also bring together the contents of specific Cambridge books, duplicating what is available through the catalogue but allowing searches across books. Cambridge Companions Online includes a very wide range of publications relating to France. Among the general titles are The Cambridge companion to French culture, The Cambridge companion to the French novel and The Cambridge companion to Medieval French Literature; and the more specific literary ones include companions to Montaigne, to Baudelaire, to Proust, to Camus... Specific titles also include companions to composers (eg Berlioz, Debussy, Ravel) and to philosophers (eg Voltaire, Levinas, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre). Cambridge Histories Online can be searched with a specific term or its contents can be browsed, in categories which include literary studies and regional history.

Corpus de la littérature médiévale des origins au 15e siècle

Almost 900 complete works constitute this collection for the period of the Middle Ages, here defined as going from the 9th to the 15th century. The four literary fields concerned and specific to that period are : narrative prose fiction, chanson de geste, poetry and theatre (religious and profane). The editions chosen for the Corpus of medieval literature are, following Classiques Garnier Numérique principles of electronic editing, those of the best editors : Honoré Champion, Société des Anciens Textes français, etc.

Corpus des dictionnaires de l'Acadèmie française

This electronic corpus gathers together all the thirteen dictionaries produced by the French Academy, since the beginnings in 1687 to the present day, thus providing a history of the French language from the early modern period to the present. The first edition of 1687 established French language usage; it was modified in 1740 to follow modern usage and updated and expanded with each new edition over the years. As the guarantor of the French language, French Academy is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. Its dictionary establishes the rules guiding the French language, including the creation or inclusion of new words, similar to the OED.

Corpus Montaigne

All the works published in Montaigne’s lifetime and after his death by his «daughter-in-law» Marie de Gournay, all the editions published from the 16th to the 20th century, their annotation and critical apparatus, and also the best editions of the complete works in Italian, English, German and Spanish go to make up the Corpus of Montaigne’s Complete Works.

This Corpus Montaigne is the result of twenty years’ dedicated research: it contains all the different editions of the works of Montaigne in the 16th and 17th centuries, published from the manuscripts and the printed originals.
These editions offer three different levels:
• the diplomatic editions in text-mode, exact copy of the printed originals (several typographical fonts were created to this end). Diplomatic editions are the only way to ensure safeguard and exploitation of all the data contained in the original texts ;
• the critically established text, in text mode (correction of abbreviations and misprints, critical editing of the text).
• modernised editions (modernised spelling).

The corpus also contains some twenty great editions of the works of Montaigne edited in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries with their complete critical apparatus.

This is the exceptional opportunity for scholars to have at hand the complete collection of Montaigne’s works in their different states and to study the greatest thinker, philosopher and writer of his period through new possibilities.

The Corpus of Montaigne’s Complete Works is a scholarly reference work and a unsurpassable summa for the study of Montaigne and also for specialists of the 16th and 17th centuries and of classical philosophy.

Dictionnaires des XVIème et XVIIème siècles

This Corpus of the dictionaries of the 16th and 17th centuries contains the ten most important dictionaries published in those two centuries. Each of them contributed, in its own way, to building up French lexicography and language. Three kinds of book constitute this dictionary database:

  • bilingual dictionaries, Latin-French (Estienne and Nicot) or English-French (Cotgrave)
  • the dictionaries of Gilles Ménage (1650 and 1694), which make up the second category by themselves; the author gathered a vast quantity of notes related to the presumed origins of the French language (regional and vernacular languages).
  • dictionaries that played a part in establishing the reputation of the French language, supporting a linguistic policy which aimed to give world-wide influence to French culture: Richelet, Furetière, the French Academy and Thomas Corneille.

Early European books

A developing database that aims to produce digital copies of all books published in Europe or in European languages before 1701. Based on key libraries, starting with the Royal Library, Copenhagen, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, the National Library of the Netherlands and The Wellcome Library, London, its current collection includes 98 works in French. These include works by Montaigne and Descartes, and pamphlets from the French Wars of religion.
(Statistics as of 1 August 2012)

Electronic Enlightenment

With 59,489 letters and documents and 7,230 correspondents, EE is the most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century. The rich variety of people in EE represents a real cross-section of early modern society in Europe and the Americas. A range of sophisticated searches are possible. Lives can be isolated by nationality. There are currently 230 French individualsrepresented. It is also possible to identify letters and documents sent from a particular geographical location, whether this be a country, region or city. EE currently contains 11,708 documents from France, 326 from Belgium, 31 from Mauritius and 13 from Québec. There is a total of 34,347 letters written in French.
(Statistics as of 1 August 2012)


FRANTEXT is a corpus of French texts from the 16th to 20th centuries. The database contains the full texts of almost 4,000 works, of which about 80% are literary texts, and the remainder are scientific and technical papers. The eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries are about equally represented, with a smaller selection of seventeenth century texts as well as some medieval and Renaissance ones. Genres include novels, poetry, theater, journalism, essays and correspondence. Subjects include literary criticism, biology, history, economics, and philosophy.

Grand corpus des grammaires françaises, des remarques et des traités sur la langue (XIVe-XVIIe siècles)

The Grand Corpus des grammaires françaises, des remarques et des traités sur la langue XIVe-XVIIe siècles groups together in one database the Corpus des grammaires françaises de la Renaissance, the Corpus des grammaires françaises du XVIIe siècle and the Corpus des remarques sur la langue française (XVIIe siècle). Each grammar is presented both in a digitalised format identical to the original version and also as a facsimile.

  • Corpus of French Renaissance grammars: the first French grammars corresponded to a variety of practices: not only description of the French language, but also teaching to foreigners keen to learn a new idiom and culture penetrating all European countries. The books are of very variable length, from a few manuscript pages to 1,000 printed pages. The language in which they are written also varies: French, of course, but also English, German and very often Latin.
  • Corpus of French 17th century grammars: it contains the most notable grammars of the Classical period. Beyond the interest in the French language to which they bear witness, these workshave very different objectives: to stabilize common language by identifying it with its "best" form; starting with French (and some other languages), to define "general" rules of the "art of talking"; to help foreigners (particularly English and Flemish) learn the French language. They are written in French, but call on other languages (Masset's Acheminement is translated into Latin, La Grue calls largely on Latin, Mauger on English). They can assume different forms: didactic treatises, dialogues, lists of vocabulary, etc.
  • Corpus of Remarks on the French language (17th Century): The authors of Remarks treat all aspects of usage - pronunciation, spelling, morphology, syntax, vocabulary and style - but drop the traditional format of grammars. This corpus is an indispensable instrument, not only for specialists of 17th century language and literature, but also for all those interested in the history of the French language, of its codification and standardization.

Huguet, Dictionnaire de la langue française du XVIe siècle

Huguet, Dictionnaire de la langue française du XVIe siècle is the main dictionary and the essential reference for the language of the Renaissance (15th & 16th centuries). The dictionary's nomenclature (more than 100,000 entries) offers almost all the words of the Renaissance language. To build up this treasure, Huguet did not limit his work to the 16th century: he often explored the 15th century and linked his work to Godefroy's dictionary in order to put his lexicon in perspective. He also extended his work to the 17th century to give his dictionary depth and to build a "history of words". Huguet was not content simply to compose a lexicographical work. His project was much wider: he aimed to give readers and historians all the documents he had accumulated on the vocabulary of the "broad" 16th century.

Oxford language dictionaries online

As well as offering an extensive French dictionary in electronic format, this database also includes a relevant range of tools and resources for French and English; useful phrases, cultural notes, interesting weblinks and a calendar of festivals and holidays. The opportunity is provided to subscribe to a French Word of the day for those keen to develop their vocabulary.

Oxford reference online

Amongst a wide range of reference resources this database gives online access to The new Oxford companion to literature in French and The Oxford guide to literature in English translation. Access is also provided to a range of bilingual dictionaries, including The concise Oxford-Hachette French dictionary and The Oxford business French dictionary.

PERSEE - Portail de revues scientifiques en sciences humaines et sociales

Persée is a national digitization project of French academic journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences, launched by the French Ministry of State Education, Higher Education, and Research and the Université Lumière Lyon 2. Persée provides full text access in pdf format to some of the most prestigious French journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The project aims at including the complete runs of journals, though dates of coverage vary and there is a moving wall of three to five years for recent issues, depending on the journal. The web site is available in both French and English.

Bibliographical resources

Bibliographie de la literature française (BLF)

More than 150,000 detailed notices from 1998 to the present day (2015) have been published, including 17,000 summaries, and 72,000 articles based on analyses of collected works (see the ‘commentary’ section of notices in particular). The previous years (1997-1979 and 1948-1894) are currently the object of a programme of retrospective conversion which will result in a bibliography of more than 500,000 references. The online BLF is updated daily, as and when publications are recorded. It is a unique instrument for researchers, teachers, students, and all those seeking to inform themselves on French and Francophone literature or on a writer, theme or period.

International Medieval Bibliography

International Medieval Bibliography is a bibliography of the European Middle Ages (c. 450 - 1500). It offers an unparalleled tool for medievalists to identify the contents of current work published throughout Europe, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region. The database comprises over 300,000 references on archaeology, classics, theology, philosophy, European languages and literatures, Islamic studies, history of art, music and other topics. Sources include around 4,500 journals and 5,000 miscellanies (conference proceedings, essay collections, Festschriften and exhibition catalogues), covering publications from 1967 up to present. The IMB can be searched by language, (more than 67,000 articles written in French), or by geographical places (62,000 articles about France in a range of languages).
(Statistics as of 1 August 2012)