A unique archive
relating to Alfred Dreyfus and the Dreyfus Affair, which took place in France between the years 1894-1906 and caused an uproar around the world, is preserved at the National Library. The archive includes letters from central figures in the Affair who wrote to Dreyfus during various stages in the drama. Lucie, Deyfus's wife, writes to her husband
; she also writes to the Colonial Secretary -in general requests to send books to her jailed husband- and receives replies
from him; Mathieu Dreyfus, his brother, writes to him
; in addition we have letters written by Emile Zola
, the great writer who contributed to the Affair by uncovering the injustice done to the French-Jewish officer; the archive also contains letters from Alexandrine Zola, the author's wife, a letter from Colonel Picquart, the honest officer who realized that Dreyfus was innocent and who risked his life to reveal the truth; in addition, the collection contains letters from Dreyfus himself to his in-laws
before his return from his exile on Devil's Island. These are all primary documents, handwritten by the figureswho played central roles in this historical affair.
However, the archive also contains other interesting material. These materials include a copy of Emile Zola
's famous article, "J'accuse
"- an article that shook France and the world and paved the way for the revelation of the truth regarding the Affair, but that also ensnared its author in lawsuits and forced him to flee to England. In addition, the archive contains an abundance of caricatures
that were published in the French newspapers of the era, as well as print media from England reporting on Dreyfus's upcoming release from Devil's Island. It also includes photographs of Alfred and Lucie Dreyfus
and their family
and a number of illustrations
relating to the affair. In addition,two exciting personal items can be found in the archive: a wedding invitation from the wedding of the Lucie and Alferd Dreyfus in 1890, four years before Dreyfus became the most famous prisoner in the whole world, and a copy of the couple's ketubah
All of these make the Alfred Dreyfus Archive
at the National Library compelling and exciting. The archive contains a collection of primary documents that shed light on the great drama and on its wide-ranging influence on the French and the public worldwide. It also allows you to witness the impressive media feedback that the Dreyfus affair evoked. This was apparently the first time that the media (including illustrated media) played a central role in the public sphere, both for Dreyfus's supporters and detractors. Most of the materials in the archive were donated to the National Library over 50 years ago by Mrs. Jeanne Dreyfus-Levi, the daughter of Lucie and Alfred Dreyfus.