The Haggerty Collection

Intro  |  About the Collection  |  Access  |  View Haggerty Slide Presentation (PPT)



Les hasards de l'histoire ont tour a tour fait et defait l'unite politique de cette ile de l'Occident, l'Empire romain, l'Empire byzantin, l'Empire arabe l'ont realisee; mais chaque fois les invasions brutales sont venues demolir l'oeuure des peuples coloni-sateurs. La derniere de ces invasions, celle des Turcs, n'avait seme que le desordre, la discorde et la ruine; une multitude de puissances locales apparut, formidable feodalite qui a dure quatre siecles, obstacle a la civilisation et au progres moderne...

Ozouf and Ozouf
Lectures Geographiques (1938)

While the origins of French colonialism are found in the sixteenth century, the period from 1871 to 1920 was one of sudden, dramatic expansion in Africa and Asia. What had been scattered mercantile and military holdings became, in only half a century, an enormous and complex imperial system. An impetus for this expansion was an interest in colonial matters taken up by the French governing class. The stance of the French colonists as we find it in the quote above strongly reflects the spirit of the temps moderne: to move toward a progressive future, but all the while conscious of the vicissitudes of history.

Colonial societies were founded in the late nineteenth century, designed to promote and encourage colonial interests and to provide a place for members to meet, study, and discuss matters relating to the Empire. Out of the movement was born the Union Coloniale Française, a private learning center founded by French trading firms with colonial interests in 1893. The center was utilized by scholars and researchers and was host to visiting lecturers, conferences, and international dinners.

About the Collection

To facilitate its work the Union Coloniale Française established a library in 1894. The steady collection of materials over the next seven decades was augmented in 1942 by the acquisition of the collections of the Comite del'Indochine and the Institut Colonial Français.

In 1966, the library was sold to the State University of New York at New Paltz, where it acquired its present name--the William J. Haggerty Collection of French Colonial History--in honor of the president of the college who was responsible for bringing it to this country. In 1984, the collection was acquired by the Libraries of Binghamton University, where it is housed in the Special Collections Unit of the Bartle Library.

Because of its content, size, provenance and uniqueness, the Haggerty Collection is a rich scholarly resource. The collection consists of some 20,000 items documenting social, economic and political history, primarily in the French colonies in Africa and Asia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most of the collection consists of printed materials published between the late nineteenth century and the mid-1950s.

Approximately 85 percent of the collection is in French. The remaining 15 percent of the materials (in descending order) are in English, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian. Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic and Persian. Included in the collection are monographs, reports, government publications, scrapbooks and other ephemera. The materials are of interest to researchers in a wide variety of fields, including history, economics, political science, law, government, anthropology, sociology, geography, philosophy, English, comparative literature, and African, Asian and French studies.

The volumes in the Haggerty Collection are concerned with French and, to a lesser degree, other European nations' colonies and spheres of influence in all parts of the world in the period 1500 to 1960. The heart of the collection is material relating to colonial Africa and Asia. There are some 5,000 volumes concerned with North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and, to a lesser extent, Africa in general. There are a further 2,000 volumes concerned with concerned with the French colonies and mandates in Southeast and Southwest Asia.

In addition to the French material, there are valuable collections of volumes concerning the English, Dutch, and German colonial empires. For example, many of the collection's official publications of the East India Company are the only copies available in the United States. There is also a 500-strong collection of twentieth-century political pamphlets that are available on microfiche. In addition, the collection includes over 140 periodical titles totaling some 5,000 volumes.

Federal and state-funded grant projects have resulted in the preservation and cataloging of nearly 5,000 bound volumes, the microfilming and cataloging of over 2,000 volumes, and the microfiching and cataloging of 500 pamphlets.


The William J. Haggerty Collection of French Colonial History || PPT slide presentation by Edward J. Shephard, Jr.



Last Updated: 11/17/16