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France & French Collections at the Library of Congress

Research Strategies

The Library holds a variety of materials on French history and culture, all of which can be located through the Library of Congress Online Catalog or the Library of Congress Digital Collections.

Image of the LC Online Catalog Homepage

The Library of Congress Online Catalog is a great place to begin your research since it provides bibliographic descriptions for the vast majority of collection items available at the Library.

Types of Searches

  • Browse
    Use this search to find titles, authors/creators, subjects, call numbers, or standard numbers.
  • Advanced Search
    Use this search for a guided approach to building a more complex search combinging names, titles, subjects, and keywords as needed.
  • Keyword Search
    Use this search for a "one box" approach to find words and phrases anywhere in the catalog record or in title, author, or subject fields.

Using Search Limits

All searches can be narrowed down by adding filters to your search using the "Add Limits" button. Limit searches with the following options:

  • Years of Publication
  • Place of Publication
  • Location in the Library
  • Type of Material
  • Language

Subject Searches for French Material in the Online Catalog

The Library of Congress Online Catalog represents a collection of over 18 million catalog records for books, serials, manuscripts, maps, music, recordings, images, and electronic resources in the Library of Congress collections. The vastness of the French collections makes it imperative to use limits and more refined searches to wade through the volume of material. In some cases—where a title or author is known in advance—it is easy to do a title or author search. However, when looking for material on a given topic (Browse Search using "Subject Containing") it will help to use the assigned Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). It is essential to determine the LCSH that was used to group subject material and this is not always intuitive. There are printed volumes that provide alphabetized lists of the LCSH.

Relevant LCSHs on Women in the French Revolution are as follows:

It is important to conduct many searches. For example, Women revolutionaries--France--Biography will not bring you every biography on revolutionary women in France. You will find additional works under Women intellectuals--France--Biography.

When searching for individuals, it is recommended that you locate the authoritative name used by the Library's catalogers. For example, to find all forms of the names Sophie de Grouchy, browse "AUTHORS/CREATORS (Containing)":

Another way to determine a LCSH is to locate a relevant book by title, and note the LCSHs that have been assigned. There will be some overlap, and these subject headings are not always entirely comprehensive. For example, conducting a title search for "French Resistance" will bring you to a book with that title, and scrolling down you will see the LC Subject headings providing the following terms which are linked to thousands of relevant titles as well as narrower terms related to the subject:

Guides for Researching the French Collections at the Library of Congress

Reading in French: A Student's Guide to Francophone Literature & Language Learning - This guide is for students of French language and culture. It offers a selection of books in French that are most suitable for language learners.

This guide is for students of French language and culture. It offers a selection of books in French including: comics (bande dessinée) & graphic novels, children's and young adult literature, crime novels, contemporary fiction, and contemporary issues.

Women of the French Revolution - This guide is a starting point for research on women in the French Revolution of 1789.

This guide is a starting point for research on women in the French Revolution of 1789. It includes English and French-language bibliographies, open-access digital resources, images, and biographical information on key figures in the Revolution.

French-American Almanacs - Farmer’s almanacs provide information on forthcoming events, weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, tide tables, and related information. The resources in this guide focus on French-language almanacs published in the

Farmer’s almanacs provide information on forthcoming events, weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, tide tables, and related information. The resources in this guide focus on French-language almanacs published in the U.S. since the mid-18th century.

Librarians can help! Visit us in the European Reading Room (LJ 250), email us at EurRef@loc.gov, or call our reference desk staffed by librarians at 202-707-4515.