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The Saint-Sulpice collection

The Saint-Sulpice collection is of a historical and heritage nature. It consists of works published in Québec, Québec-related documents published outside Québec and other works published in foreign countries.

Derived from the holdings of all the Sulpician libraries in Montréal, including the first one, the Oeuvre des bons livres [work of good books], founded in 1844, the Saint-Sulpice collection comprises all the documents inherited by the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec when it was created on August 12, 1967. The documents belonged to the Bibliothèque Saint-Sulpice, a public library created by the Sulpicians in 1915, which closed in 1931 and was reopened in 1944 by the Québec government. Between 1912 and 1931, the library's holdings grew under the care of the keeper of the collection, Ægidius Fauteux, who integrated academic and general works into the collection. As a result, the Bibliothèque Saint-Sulpice developed into a research library and, in fact, fulfilled the dual role of a public and an academic library. Among the acquisitions was the 9,000-volume private collection of the deceased judge Louis-Wilfrid Sicotte, acquired in 1913. It consisted primarily of works that were published in Canada or Québec or were about Québec. Over the years, the collection was enriched by books from, among other sources, the private libraries of various well-known figures, notably Louis-Joseph Papineau, Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Napoléon Bourassa. The successors of Ægidius Fauteux pursued the development of the collection along the same lines.

In 1967, the Saint-Sulpice collection comprised not only books, but journals, magazines, newspapers, government publications, early books, private archives, prints, maps and plans, printed music, show programs, and more. It became the initial collection of the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec. The holdings, totalling approximately 230,000 documents, provided good coverage of all fields of knowledge and constituted the first core of the national collection, which consisted of documents published in Québec since 1764 and Québec-related documents.

Since 1967, all of the documents from the Saint-Sulpice collection have been integrated into the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec and are now located either in the collections of books, journals, magazines, newspapers and government publications of the national collection at the Grande Bibliothèque or in the special collections. A number of the documents are also in the preservation collection. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Saint-Sulpice collection is that most of the documents have a bookplate, as well as a stamp that says "Bibliothèque Saint-Sulpice".

TopA collection of documentary value:
foreign works published from 1801 to 1967

The Saint-Sulpice collection of foreign works is part of the national collection. It includes masterpieces of literature; numerous works on the history of science and technology, occupations, and philosophical and religious thought; as well as works on the social sciences and on languages. Books, dictionaries and other reference works, and foreign journals, magazines and newspapers are the main types of documents composing these remarkable holdings.

The Saint-Sulpice collection consists of 77,709 books published outside Québec from 1801 to 1967:

  • 23,790 titles, i.e. 30.0%, are works in history and geography
  • 18,194 titles, i.e. 23.4%, are works in literature
  • 7,811 titles, i.e. 10%, are works in the social sciences
  • 6,057 titles, i.e. 7.8%, are works in the arts
  • 21,857 titles, i.e. 28.1%, are works in other disciplines

A quick glance reveals works like the following:

  • Encyclopédie du dix-neuvième siècle. Paris: au bureau de l'Encyclopédie du XIX e siècle, 1836-1852, 27 vols.
  • Histoire complète et costumes des ordres monastiques, religieux et militaires, et des congrégations séculières des deux sexes by R.P. Mélyot. Guingamp: chez B. Jollivet, 1838, 8 vols.
  • Un siècle de modes féminines, 1784-1894. Quatre cents toilettes reproduites en couleurs d'après des documents authentiques. Paris: Charpentier et Fasquelle, 1894.
  • Manuel des dames, ou l'art de l'élégance . . .  by Elizabeth-F. Bayle-Mouillard dame Celnart. Paris: Librairie encyclopédique Roret, 1833.
  • the Roret manuals:
    • Manuel du confiseur et du chocolatier, 1896
    • Manuel du bijoutier - joaillier et du sertisseur, 1884
    • Manuel du boulanger et du meunier, 1825
    • Manuel du limonadier et du confiseur, 1827
    • Manuel du serrurier, 1901
    • Manuel de l'horloger, 1863

The following were very widespread in Québec, as in France, in the 19th century:

  • Dictionnaire de la langue française by E. Littré. Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1878. 5 vols. Large format.
  • Glossaire nautique: répertoire polyglotte de termes de marine anciens et modernes by A. Jal. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1848. 1591 pp.
  • Decorative Draperies & Upholstery by Edward Thorne, descriptive text by Henry W. Frohne; with sixty-four decorative designs rendered in full color. New York: Garden City Publishing Co., 1937.

Noteworthy in the sciences are:

  • les Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences, of which the library has 100 years of published material (1829-1931) that includes thousands of articles written by the great scientific minds of the era;
  • the collection of more than 3,095 very specialized documents of the Smithsonian Institute.

The Saint-Sulpice collection of foreign documents is for researchers, bibliophiles and anyone interested in the history of the book. All of the titles in the collection can now be found in the Iris online catalogue. In addition, in order to illustrate the bibliophilic value of the foreign collection, catalogue cards, most of which are handwritten, for 68,124 titles have been digitized and are available in the digital collection. Given the unique and heritage character of this collection, the documents are subject to controlled access and must be consulted on site at the national collection.