Archives Parlementaires

The Archives parlementaires is a chronologically-ordered edited collection of sources on the French Revolution. It was conceived in the mid 19th century as a project to produce a definitive record of parliamentary deliberations and also includes letters, reports, speeches, and other first-hand accounts from a great variety of published and archival sources. Because of copyright limitations, FRDA contains the AP volumes covering the years 1787-1794. The text of these volumes has been marked up using TEI so that speakers, places, dates, and terms in the published index can be easily found.

While the AP started as a curatorial endeavor spearheaded by government archivists, it later became a scholarly project under the direction of leading historians. This massive collection of historical sources was initiated in 1862 at the request of the French legislature, and by 1914 had reached 82 volumes, each around 800 double-columned pages, covering the years 1789-1794. After a long period of dormancy, the project was taken up again in 1962 by the Institut d’histoire de la Revolution française at the Université de Paris I; its progress is ongoing. The current digital archive contains only the first 82 volumes from the first series of the Archives parlementaires, published before the Great War. These volumes roughly cover the first five years of the French Revolution, from the Cahiers des états généraux of 1789 until 15 nivôse an II (4 January 1794). They record the events ranging from the convening of the Estates General through the first half of the Terror.

The Archives parlementaires provide an unparalleled view into the workings of the Revolution through the thoughts and actions of its participants. The work is a day-to-day record of debates and discussions held by the three parliamentary bodies that legislated for France between 1789 and 1794. The first seven volumes of the AP present the Cahiers de doléances sent to the Estates General in 1789. Subsequent volumes draw primarily on official minutes of parliamentary debates, but also include journalistic accounts of the proceedings, speeches prepared for delivery but never presented, as well as letters, reports, and other documents received or reviewed by the assembly. Fragmented power, multiple authorities, and accounts from various and conflicting perspectives further complicate the record. Given the Revolution’s rapid pace, the AP’s detailed and layered chronological organization of Revolutionary sources provides an invaluable narrative to scholars. Over the decades, the AP has come to be accepted by scholars as the functional equivalent of primary documentation, and it is virtually all scholars’ first recourse for research into the deliberative record of the Revolution through 1794.