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European Heritage Documents collection

 Collection 0313-MDHC

The European Heritage Documents collection contains a wide variety of documents, written mostly in French, but also Latin, Italian, and Spanish, with a few in German, Dutch, and Portuguese. Most documents are hand written, some on parchment. A significant portion of the collection deals with the history of the Savoy region and includes land, property and other legal records, genealogy, government decrees and correspondence. This material may originally have been collected for the purpose of writing a history of Savoy or of the Mellerede family. Items about this family include genealogies, family trees, coats of arms, and other legal and official documents. There is also a significant amount of material on the families of Poterin du Motel and the Guentevilles from northern France, in part consisting of birth and death certificates, marriage and dowry contracts and military records. The collection consists of a large proportion of correspondence, to and from then prominent figures, on a wide variety of topics including property, science, finance, the military [including mentions of the first French Revolution, the Seven Years War and the Napoleonic wars], arts and letters, and some medical and ecclesiastical topics. A significant number of documents seem to have been collected for autographs. The collection includes some prints, mostly portraits of prominent people, and a few drawings. There are also awards, certificates and degrees.


  • 1334-1950
  • Majority of material found within 1600-1899

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research. However, certain items have been restricted due to preservation issues that do not allow the items to be handled. The restrictions will be lifted once preservation work has been completed.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. However, some items have been restricted due to preservation issues. These restrictions will be lifted when preservation completes its work. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


26.75 Linear Feet

32 Items

Scope and Content of Collection

The European Heritage Documents collection contains mostly correspondence to and from political, religious, military, medical and other prominent figures in Europe during the 16th through the 20th century. Most of the documents originated in Western Europe, mostly from France and Italy. In addition, there are many documents from the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Switzerland, the North America, the West Indies and South America, and Algeria. The nature of these documents is largely business related; however, the collection also contains personal letters, diaries and notes. Also included in the collection are government documents, and various literary materials collectively dating from the 1700s to the early 1900s. There are several posters and broadsides and documents from the 1st Revolutionary period. In addition, there are maps, prints, drawings, books, songs, dry flowers and a burlap sack. This collection, originally called the Savoy Collection, contains numerous documents, correspondence, prints and other literary manuscripts from the Savoy regions of France and Italy. The documents are on paper and vellum.

The collection is in its original order. Although no series have been identified, documents within a folder or small grouping of consecutive folders frequently pertain to the same subject. Listed below are the subjects which appear in the collection:

1. Genealogy

  1. Marriage Contracts
  2. Birth Certificates
  3. Family Trees

2. Government

  1. Population Census
  2. Tax Records (Management, Collection, Rates and Regulations)
  3. Death Records - see also Military below
  4. Parliament (excerpts)
  5. French Republic States (books)
  6. Passports
  7. Decrees
  8. State Documents
  9. Correspondence (Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Defense, etc.)
  10. Political Groups (membership lists, minutes)

3. Education

  1. Public education regulations
  2. Public education government research
  3. Official correspondence

4. Legal and Financial


  1. Share or Stock sales
  2. Powers of Attorney
  3. Judicial Rulings, Attestations, Legal Disputes
  4. Excerpts of laws and regulations
  5. Real Estate and Leasing Agreements (Law suits, collection efforts, payment agreements, rental agreements)
  6. Wills

Financial Documents

  1. Sales Contracts (real estate, other property, livestock and supplies)
  2. Receipts for payment, check stubs
  3. Currency (livres - table on depreciation)
  4. Account ledgers and other records

5. Army Documents

  1. Supplies requisitions
  2. Death records
  3. Inventories of persons, supplies, horses
  4. War - history
  5. Awards, certificates, honors - army & navy
  6. Salaries

6. Fine Arts

  1. Art (Lithographs (some colored), Drawings - pencil & chalk, Critics
  2. Literacy (Newspaper articals & biographies, Correspondence of French writers, editors, publishers, Poems)
  3. Music (Composer biographies, songs, music scores)

7. Medicine

  1. List of doctors
  2. Lists of pharmacists
  3. Types of medications
  4. Doctors' perscriptions & diagnosis
  5. Hospital records - admittance, medications

8. Religion

  1. Certificates, awards
  2. Religious documents
  3. Correspondence of religious officials (Pope, cardinals, archbishops)

Administrative History

Please see box inventory for a more detailed background on this collection.


This collection is organized as one series:

  1. Series 1: European Heritage Documents

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The source of the European Heritage Documents collection is unknown; however, it appears that it might have been collected from many different sources in France. The collection was apparently assembled for the purpose of writing a French political, military and literary history. Additional materials have been added over time as the Libraries has acquired or happened upon miscellaneous related materials in its collections.

Processing Information

In instances where documents in this collection had French Republican Calendar dates, they were converted to Gregorian Calendar dates in the Finding Aid using the conversion tool at Documents were re-foldered, as necessary. Documents on parchment and fragile paper were identified and the Preservation Officer was consulted regarding flattening these items.

Guide to the European Heritage Documents collection
Processed by Irmina Ulysse, May 13, 1994. Revised by Valerie Vanden Bossche, October 2006; and Maya Riser-Kositsky, February 2016.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742