DePaul Special Collections Contributes to New French Renaissance Paleography Website



DePaul is proud to be a contributor to a new website exploring French paleography from 1300-1700. The site, French Renaissance Paleography (, was developed by the Newberry Library and supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. DePaul University Special Collections and Archives joins a number of prestigious institutions from across North America in contributing digital facsimiles to the site, including Harvard’s Houghton Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington Library, and the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Paleography is the study and history of handwriting, and old scripts are often difficult to read. The aim of this groundbreaking site is to make different examples of historical French scripts available to researchers all over the world, and to give those researchers a common space in which to share transcriptions of the texts and contextual essays explaining each item’s background and purpose. Via interactive maps, faceted browsing, and keyword searches, users can explore more than 100 manuscript documents written between 1300 and 1700, page through a dozen historical calligraphy books, and view a number of historical maps.

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A detail from the Louis de Marillac Commonplace Book

DePaul Special Collections was asked by the Newberry to contribute a section of the Commonplace Book of Louis de Marillac (1556-1604), French nobleman and father of Daughters of Charity co-founder St. Louise de Marillac. A commonplace book was a popular way for people to collect information they found interesting or useful, often copied from other sources. Every commonplace book is different, and gives insight into that particular owner. Louis’s commonplace book was once owned by famed book collector Carrie Estelle Doheny, and is currently part of the DePaul’s Vincentian Studies Collection.

The portion of the Commonplace Book digitized for the paleography site can be viewed here, while the book itself can be viewed in its entirety by visiting DePaul University Special Collections and Archives,
located in the John T. Richardson Library, Room 314.

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