Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library

In 1997, the Cleveland State University Library received a microfilm collection from the Lafayette archives at Chateau LaGrange, in France. The collection, comprising 6,400 feet of microfilm containing 50,000 sheets covering 25,000 items, will be housed in the Library's Special Collections area on the third floor of Rhodes Tower.

The collection includes extensive copies of Lafayette's letters to the French political and military leaders during the American Revolution. There is substantial material documenting Lafayette's work in the National Assembly, including a handwritten draft with his final corrections to the Declaration of the Rights of Man that he introduced into the National Assembly on July 22, 1789. Lafayette's imprisonment and trip to America are also well documented and the collection contains several drafts of his memoirs. Dr. James Hutton, Chief of the Library of Congress Manuscript Divisions stated that the letters are historically significant.

The exact historical importance of the papers will be revealed as historians examine the collection. The Marquis de Lafayette influenced the affairs of both the United States and France. He was on intimate terms with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe. There is substantial documentation on the War for American Independence, including a secret code used by Lafayette and Washington along with Lafayette's handwritten account of the siege of Yorktown. A rare item is Martha Washington's hand written letter to Lafayette following the death of her husband in which she writes of her "irreparable loss."

The acquisition of this rare microfilm collection by the Cleveland State University Library was funded through the French/American Library Book Fund. It was arranged by its major benefactor, Mr. John Horton, a personal friend of the Comte de Chambrun with whom he has developed a personal relationship based on mutual interests in the Lafayette heritage.

Mr. Horton needed the Comte's approval since the original agreement between the Library of Congress and the Comte did not allow for copying the microfilm.

(The photo shows the Comte de Cambrun and Mr. John Horton at Chateau LaGrange.)

The Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress maintains a Finding Aid to the Microfilm Reels in ASCII text form, or in SGML form, which is a valuable tool for using the copy of the microfilm held here at Cleveland State University Library.

You might also be interested in the Château-Musée Lafayette Home Page

BACK to the Special Collections home page

Last Updated March 4, 2004