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Guide to the French Funerary Materials Collection

MSE/MD 2816


Collection Summary

Title: French Funerary Materials Collection
Dates: 1668-1888
Collection No.: MSE/MD 2816
Extent: 18 folders; 1 container; .5 cubic ft.
Language: Collection material in French
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: Collection of documents relating to interment and mortuary law in early modern and modern France with a concentration on bureaucratic records from the Entreprise Générale des Inhumations of the Napoleonic era.

Selected Search Terms

Burial -- Law and legislation; Mortuary law.
France -- History -- Consulate and First Empire, 1799-1815.

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], French Funerary Materials Collection, [Collection and folder no.], Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: Materials were purchased by Hesburgh Libraries in 2015 from Robert van den Graven. Arranged and described 2016, by Arnaud Zimmern. Finding aid 2016, by Arnaud Zimmern and Julie Tanaka.

Scope and Content Note

Collection contains print documents, manuscripts, printed receipts, and legal paperwork related to burial regulations, finances, institutions, and burial affairs in France between 1668 and 1888. Print documents on pre-Revolutionary burial regulations issued by Louis XVI, his spokesman Omer Joly de Fleury, and his parliament are represented.

Collection also includes print and manuscript documents concerned with the founding and management of the Entreprise Générale des Inhumations. Central figures represented are Parisian civil servants Nicolas Frochot and Luc-Clement Bobee, as well as Etienne Mejan, Hugues-Bernard Maret, and Joseph-Marie Portalis. Represented peripherally are Archbishop-Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Belloy and Emperor Napoleon I. A substantial manuscript ledger, drafted in the course of a thorough financial audit of the Entreprise's expenditures, provides details regarding the costs and scope of burial practices. Details include: mortality rates, currency exchange rates, weight unit conversion rates, transportation costs, horse-management expenses, rat-extermination practices, and precise descriptions of company uniforms for pallbearers and other company assistants. The documents provide a picture of advanced managerial centralization that typified the Napoleonic state.

Printed receipts and legal paperwork from the mid-to-late 19th century (range 1831-1890; bulk 1887) are also included. They concern individual inhumations, exhumations, and land concessions. The most complete sub-collection revolves around the burial of Marie Soret, mother of Emile Soret, a little-known portraitist from Metz, perhaps related to the Ecole de Metz movement (1834-1870). Included is a manuscript receipt from the officiating priest of the service and an earlier, seemingly unrelated letter of recommendation from the Metz commissioner of police on Soret's behalf. The geographic range includes Vienne in the southern region of Isere in France and Brabant in Belgium.

Arrangement Note

Collection is generally arranged chronologically. Receipts are arranged by topic.

Container List

  • French Funerary Materials Collection 
    • Folder 1 (MSE/MD 2816-1) Booklet. Nouveau Règlement fait par Mr. l'Official de Paris, 1668. 1 item, 8 pages.
      • Folder 2 (MSE/MD 2816-2) Booklet. Arrest de la Cour de Parlement concernant les Exhumations faites dans les Chapelles des Collèges des Cholets, d'Autun, et de Bourgogne, 1764 November 2. 1 item, 16 pages.
        • Folder 3 (MSE/MD 2816-3) Booklet. Déclaration du Roi concernant les Inhumations, 1776 March 10. 1 item, 6 pages.
          • Folder 4 (MSE/MD 2816-4) Pamphlet. Arrest du Conseil d'État du Roi , 1785 April 7. 1 item, 4 pages.
            • Folder 5 (MSE/MD 2816-5) Booklet, ledger, manuscript pamphlet. Inhumation Files Dated 27 Germinal An 9, 1801 April 17. 3 items, 25 pages.
              • Folder 6 (MSE/MD 2816-6) Correspondence. Letters between Frochot, Bobée, and the Mayors of Paris, An 9, 1801. 2 items, 2 pages, 1 leaf.
                • Folder 7 (MSE/MD 2816-7) Booklet. Décrét Impérial sur les Sépultures du 23 Prairial An 12, 1804 June 12. 1 item, 4 pages.
                  • Folder 8 (MSE/MD 2816-8) Booklet. Arrêté du Préfêt de la Seine du 11 Vendemiaire An 13, 1804 October 3. 1 item, 8 pages.
                    • Folder 9 (MSE/MD 2816-9) Booklet (half print, half manuscript). Rapport Arbitral du 10 Pluviôse An 13, 1805 January 30. 1 item, 24 pages (16 manuscript, 8 print).
                      • Folder 10 (MSE/MD 2816-10) Booklet. Arrêté du Préfêt de la Seine du 25 Pluviôse, 1805 February 14. 1 item, 6 pages.
                        • Folder 11 (MSE/MD 2816-11) Ledger. Mercuriale des Fourrages, c. 1806. 1 item, 4 pages.
                          • Folder 12 (MSE/MD 2816-12) Pamphlet. Arrêté Préfectoral du 5 Mars 1806, 1806 March 5. 1 item, 4 pages.
                            • Folder 13 (MSE/MD 2816-13) Booklet. Décrêt Impérial concernant les Services dans les Églises et les Convois Funèbres, 1806 March 18. 1 item, 4 pages.
                              • Folder 14 (MSE/MD 2816-14) Correspondence and Ledger. Lettre de la Préfecture du Département de la Seine relatives au Service des Inhumations + Observations de l'Entreprise des Inhumations et Pompes Funèbres de la Ville de Paris, c. 1806-1807. 2 items: 4 pages, 96 pages.
                                • Folder 15 (MSE/MD 2816-15) Ledger. État Général et Détaillé des Dépenses Faites par l'Entreprise des Inhumations... du 1er Ventôse An 13 au 30 Pluviôse An 14, c. 1806-1807. 4 items: 6 pages, 2 pages, 4 pages, 4 pages.
                                  • Folder 16 (MSE/MD 2816-16) Miscellaneous. Emile Soret Family Funeral Documents, 1860-88. 6 items, 6 pages.
                                    • Folder 17 (MSE/MD 2816-17) Receipt. Cemetery Land Concessions, 1831, 1840. 3 items, 1 page, 1 page, 3 pages.
                                      • Folder 17 (MSE/MD 2816-18) Receipt. Funeral Receipts, c.1803-1870. 6 items, 6 pages.