May 10, 2005 The Library of Congress and National Library of France Launch Joint Web Site on the French in North America

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer, (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: John Van Oudenaren, (202) 707-4543

The Library of Congress and the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France) have launched a bilingual (English-French) online presentation that explores the history of the French presence in North America and the interactions between the French and American peoples from the early 16th to the early 19th centuries. The Web site was unveiled today at a ceremony in Paris attended by Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of the Bibliotheque nationale de France, and John Van Oudenaren, chief of the European Division of the Library of Congress and director of its Global Gateway initiative.

“We are pleased to cooperate with other national libraries to make these rich historical resources globally accessible,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

“This site will be especially valuable for teachers as they prepare lessons on this complex and pivotal chapter in American and French history.”

“In developing this Web presentation both national libraries have done what they do best—sift through an exhaustive amount of material in order to make our common histories comprehensible and accessible to the public,” said Jeanneney.

The online English presentation, titled “France in America,” joins other international resources on the Library of Congress Global Gateway Web site at The site includes collaborative digital libraries built with partners from around the world. The French version, titled “La France en Amérique,” is the newest addition to Gallica, the Bibliothèque nationale de France’s digital library, at

The English and French presentations each include more than 100,000 images from the rare book, manuscript, map and print collections of the Library of Congress and the Bibliotheque nationale de France. Among the items available on the site are print versions of Samuel de Champlain’s “Voyages,” Jacques Marquette’s account of his voyage of 1673, Theodor de Bry’s late 16th-century illustrations of Native American villages, narratives by French officers who participated in the American Revolution and rare maps from the Rochambeau Collection in the Library of Congress and the d’Anville Collection in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

The first release of the online presentation focuses on the role played by France in the exploration an d settlement of North America and in such formative events in the history of the United States as the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the Louisiana Purchase. It documents the voyages of such important explorers as Jacques Cartier, Champlain and Sieur Cavelier de La Salle; the role of French fur traders, missionaries and soldiers in opening up and settling the upper Midwest; and the interactions between the French settlers and the Native American tribes they encountered.

A second release, to be launched in 2006, will document the continuing links between France and the United States in the 19th century through trade, immigration, scientific exchange, literature and the arts.

Founded in 1800 to serve the research needs of the U.S. Congress, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It holds more than 130 million items in various formats such as books, manuscripts, maps, prints and photographs, music and films. Today the Library serves visitors from around the world both on site in its 21 reading rooms on Capitol Hill and on its popular Web site at

The Bibliothèque nationale de France was founded (as the first Royal Library) by King Charles V in 1368. Through the mandatory deposit of printed works (since 1537) as well as numerous acquisitions and donations, the collection has grown to some 31 million documents, including books, manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, maps, musical scores, sound recordings, video, multimedia, seals, coins an d antiques. Today the Bibliotheque nationale de France serves visitors in its 35 reading rooms in five locations and on its Web site at


PR 05-099
ISSN 0731-3527