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Switzerland and Pro Helvetia

A sample of Pro Helvetia donations.

For a number of years the University Library has benefited considerably from the generosity of the Arts Council of Switzerland Pro Helvetia. Through its activities Pro Helvetia aims to support a contemporary, culturally diverse and open-minded Switzerland, and a primary objective is the fostering of cultural relations with other countries. The University Library’s language specialists collect information on new titles relating to Switzerland on a regular basis, and submit lists of desiderata to Pro Helvetia. These are reviewed in Zürich and if they meet Pro Helvetia’s criteria, the books are supplied to Cambridge free of charge.

French titles supplied in the latest delivery, in August, give some indication of the subject diversity.

  • La frontier jurassienne au quotidien, 1939-1945 by Henry Spira. Genève: Slatkine, 2010.
  • La communauté israélite de Porrentruy aux XIXe et XXe siècles by Chantal Gerber Baumgartner. Genève: Slatkine, 2010.
  • L’Ombre du Diable: Michée Chauderon, dernière sorcière execute à Genève (1652) by Michel Porret. Chêne-Bourg: Georg, 2009.
  • La Suisse en crise (1929-1936): les politiques monétaire, financière, économique et sociale de la Confédération helvétique by Philipp Müller. Lausanne: Ed. Antipodes, 2010.
  • Histoire de la Suisse (5 vol. set) by François Walter. Neuchâtel: Alphil, 2010-2011.
  • Lettres à sa fille Germaine et à son gendre Frédéric Barbey, 1889-1928 (3 vol. set) by Gustave Ador. Genève: Slatkine, 2009.

With the Swiss franc rapidly increasing in value against the pound, we would be able to acquire relatively few of these titles if we had to buy them from the Library budget. These Pro Helvetia donations enable us to continue to develop in depth our collections on Switzerland, and these have long been an area of particular interest for Cambridge. Switzerland is singled out for special mention in our collection development policy.

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Rare Swiss holdings

The Library currently has more than 26,000 Swiss imprints. French language imprints dominate for the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The 19th century sees a marked swing within the collections from French to German, and the 20th century continues that trend.

We have nearly 10,500 French language imprints for Switzerland. 88 titles were published in the 16th century, 116 in the 17th, 615 in the 18th, 1400 in the 19th and 6390 in the 20th.

Lord Acton collected Swiss imprints very actively. When the Acton Library was presented by Lord Morley in 1902, numbers in the Acton classification scheme were specifically devoted to matters Swiss. At Acton.15 are placed books on Swiss church history, and Acton.36 has books on Swiss political history.

Acton’s library contains some 560 French language titles on the history of Switzerland, most of which were published in Geneva. Other places of publication include Lausanne, Neuchâtel, Berne, Fribourg, Porrentruy, Delemont, Vevey and Locle. The collection features contemporary political writings and is strong on the Swiss constitution and on the history of individual places such as Geneva or the cantons of Vaud and Fribourg. A particular highlight is Histoire de la reformation de la Suisse, a 6 volume set from 1727-28 . The collection also includes runs of Mémoires et documents publiés par la Société d’Histoire de la Suisse romande (1838-1867) and of Mémoires et documents publiés par la Société d’Histoire et d’Archéologie de Genève (1841-1866).