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General Information

The Library holds more than one million volumes of French books and bound serials in its General Collections. Most titles held in the General Collections may be located by using the Library's online catalog ( Additional information, especially for materials cataloged before 1970, is available in the Main Card Catalog, located adjacent to the Main Reading Room. Additional book titles may be located in microform and electronic collections, e.g., French books before 1601 [microform]; French books 1601-1700 [microform]; Classiques Garnier Numérique; ARTFL ( E-books that are either in the Library's database holdings or in open-access sources are located under the E-Books Only tab found on the home page for LC's Serials Solutions A-Z list ( link

The Library has significant holdings of French materials in non-book formats housed in its special collections divisions. The online catalog locates some of the French materials held in special collections, but each special collection reading room has additional catalogs and finding aids for its collections; some have posted online catalogs to their collections on their homepages. To consult individual reading rooms for collection and/or research services, and additional online catalogs and/or portals, see the Research and Reference Services page (

French Collections at the Library of Congress. An overview of French holdings in the general and special collections (

Open Access Digital Collections

The Library holds digital collections of print, pictorial and audio-visual material. To browse these collections, see the Digital Collections homepage ( French materials are found throughout the digital collections. To search for an individual item, consult the Library's online catalog . Record entries for digitized items will include a link to the digitized version of the item. For special format items, e.g., prints, photographs, films, maps, etc., consult the online catalogs to the collections posted on the individual special collection homepages (

The National Library of France [Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)], maintains extensive online digital collections, searchable on the Gallica homepage ( link and through the BnF's general catalog ( External link or link The library's Signets de la BnF also links to other French and international digital libraries and resources ( link under Généralités, Bibliothèques numériques.

Select General Resources:

Resources listed below are general; more specialized resources can be found by searching the Library's online catalog.

  • International biographical and genealogical databases are available at the Library's Databases: E-Resources page (
  • Biography Resource Center database ( searchable by nationality and name; includes many entries for historical and current French personalities in wide range of fields. English language only.
  • Michaud. Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne. Paris : Michaud frères, 1811-1862. 85v. CT143 .M4. MRR Biography Alcove. Electronic edition: Gallica - new, revised edition, 1843-18??.
  • Dictionnaire de biographie française. Ed. J. Balteau, M. Barroux, M. Prévost. Paris: Letouzey et Ane, 1933-2009. CT143 .D5. MRR Biography Alcove.
  • Archives biographiques françaises. I and II. (K.G. Saur, 1988-1990; 1993-2000). Microfiche collection based on biographical reference works from the 18th-20th c. (MERC) Guide: Index biographiques françaises. 7v. CT1003 +A83 1988 Index. MRR Ref Desk. Online guide at World Biographical Information System ( searchable by name and biographical archive. Limited to one (simultaneous) user. Log out when finished.
  • Who's who in France. Paris: J. Lafitte, 1955- . DC 705.A1 W46. Latest editions in MRR Biography Alcove and Eur RR. Online version not available at LC.
French Telephone directories French Dissertation indexes
  • Catalogue des thèses et écrits académiques. Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1885-1958. Z5055 F79 F73. The official, annual French list of dissertations and masters theses.
  • SUDOC (Système universitaire de documentation), the online French collective catalog of French institutes of higher education, comprehensively lists French dissertations with links to some full-text titles ( link
  • The Signets de la BnF site links to French and other international bibliographies and full-text dissertations ( link under Généralités, Thèses.

French Newspapers, Periodicals and Government Documents

The Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room (LM-133) provides access to French newspapers, current French periodicals and current government documents.

Newspapers: Newspaper indexes:

Consult the online LC catalog for printed indexes of select individual newspaper titles (e.g. search for "Monde" and "index" using the online catalog's guided search form to find historical print indexes for Le Monde) or an individual newspaper's website for indexed archives (see External link for a comprehensive list of French newspapers)

Search Google using the specific newspaper title and the word "index."

Periodicals, or serials:

For titles and select holdings, consult the LC online catalog.

Full-text online:
  • Serials Solutions (E-Journals: E-Resources, searches for electronic journals in both subscription (e.g. JSTOR) and open access databases (e.g. or PERSEE).
  • EBZ (Electronic Journals Library; links to electronic editions/archives in open access and subscription databases.
Periodical indexes and bibliographic databases: Government documents:
  • For LC holdings of non-digitized historical documents, consult the Library of Congress online catalog.

French Archives and Manuscripts

Consult the websites of individual French archives and libraries for online full-text guides to their collections. Links to select archives and libraries available at the France Portal. The BnF's archive and manuscript catalog describes some of the manuscripts and archives held in their Manuscripts Department and Department of Performing Arts (Arts du Spectacle) and all the manuscripts preserved in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal ( link Consult holding institutions or LC online catalog for printed guides.

Select French Materials from the LC Special Collections.

For more extensive overviews of French materials in special collections, see the French Collections at the Library of Congress (

Rare books:

The subject range of rare French material reflects that of the general collections, from the arts to the sciences and technology. The Library also holds a significant collection of French incunabula and rare editions dating from the fifteenth through the twentieth century (


The Law Library holds a comprehensive collection of current legal resources from all French-speaking countries, as well as significant historical collections ( and


The Library's manuscript collections focus primarily on American history and culture. French holdings are strongest for topics or periods where the histories of France and America overlap. The Library's Foreign Copying Program, begun in 1914, reproduced material from French archives and libraries dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries related primarily to French exploration of the New World to French participation in the American Revolution (


The Library holds a significant collection of French cartographic material, including maps, atlases, reference works, globes and globe gores, raised relief models, and CDs/DVDs. Highlights include important French sixteenth- and seventeenth-century atlases and printed maps, a notably strong collection of eighteenth-century French materials, and a major collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French hydrographic charts (

Photographs; Fine and popular prints and drawings; Posters:

The collections include numerous items produced by French artists in all formats as well as by Americans featuring French subjects or working in Europe ( The Prints & Photographs online catalog locates a significant percentage of the holdings and links to many digital images (

Motion pictures:

The Library has several hundred French films. These range from the early silent films by Lumières and Pathé frères to theatrical features of the sound era, including works by directors such as Renoir, Chabrol, Truffaut, and Alain Renais. The Moving Images Catalog (MIC) locates and sometimes provides links to view moving images collected and managed by a number of organizations (

Recorded sound:

Sound recordings of French personalities, or Americans in France may be found in the Recorded Sound Reference Center. Partial holdings may be searched in their online catalog, SONIC (


The Music Division holds a notable number of French music typographic manuals, published music and books, manuscript letters and scores, as well as French musical instruments. Catalogs, bibliographies and finding aids, as well as the materials themselves, may be consulted in the Performing Arts Reading Room (

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  March 9, 2022
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