Skip to main content

French Funerary Materials Collection

Identifier: MSE/MD 2816

Scope and Contents

Collection contains print documents, manuscripts, printed receipts, and legal paperwork related to burial regulations, finances, institutions, and burial affairs in France between 1668 and 1888. Print documents on pre-Revolutionary burial regulations issued by Louis XVI, his spokesman Omer Joly de Fleury, and his parliament are represented.

Collection also includes print and manuscript documents concerned with the founding and management of the Entreprise Générale des Inhumations. Central figures represented are Parisian civil servants Nicolas Frochot and Luc-Clement Bobee, as well as Etienne Mejan, Hugues-Bernard Maret, and Joseph-Marie Portalis. Represented peripherally are Archbishop-Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Belloy and Emperor Napoleon I. A substantial manuscript ledger, drafted in the course of a thorough financial audit of the Entreprise's expenditures, provides details regarding the costs and scope of burial practices. Details include: mortality rates, currency exchange rates, weight unit conversion rates, transportation costs, horse-management expenses, rat-extermination practices, and precise descriptions of company uniforms for pallbearers and other company assistants. The documents provide a picture of advanced managerial centralization that typified the Napoleonic state.

Printed receipts and legal paperwork from the mid-to-late 19th century (range 1831-1890; bulk 1887) are also included. They concern individual inhumations, exhumations, and land concessions. The most complete sub-collection revolves around the burial of Marie Soret, mother of Emile Soret, a little-known portraitist from Metz, perhaps related to the Ecole de Metz movement (1834-1870). Included is a manuscript receipt from the officiating priest of the service and an earlier, seemingly unrelated letter of recommendation from the Metz commissioner of police on Soret's behalf. The geographic range includes Vienne in the southern region of Isere in France and Brabant in Belgium.


  • Creation: 1668-1888

Language of Materials


Language of Materials

Collection material in French.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


.5 Cubic Feet


Collection of documents relating to interment and mortuary law in early modern and modern France with a concentration on bureaucratic records from the Entreprise Générale des Inhumations of the Napoleonic era.


Collection is generally arranged chronologically. Receipts are arranged by topic.

French Funerary Materials Collection
Arnaud Zimmern and Julie Tanaka
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556