The University of Montpellier has a rich documentary heritage: printed works, manuscripts, archives, drawings and engravings. Most of this heritage is kept in the university libraries.

Printed works

The collections of printed matter range from the beginning of printing to the present day. Rich and varied, they include 300 incunabula, hundreds of thousands of printed volumes from the 16th to the 19th century (books and periodicals), and specialised holdings often resulting from donations. Encyclopaedicism is the key word for these collections, not only because they are held in libraries covering all the major disciplines, but also because they were generally conceived with a broad and generous vision of knowledge, as "libraries of the honest man" with the ambition of providing the richest possible access to knowledge.

The BU Historique de Médecine holds 100,000 volumes printed before the 19th century, half of which concern medicine and the other half all facets of knowledge: languages and literature, history, geography and travel, physical and natural sciences. You will also find the old medical theses of Montpellier and Paris since the 18th century.

The core of the BU Sciences' heritage collections is the library of the former Faculty of Sciences, created in 1809; this collection was subsequently supplemented by prestigious bequests, such as those of Dunal (1857) and Girard, Jeanjean and Gergonne. It is particularly rich in works on botany, zoology, mathematics and astronomy. There are also numerous works from the collection of Candolle, the famous Geneva botanist, as well as a unique collection of glass photographic plates dating from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.

The BU Richter holds more than 22,000 heritage documents from the 16th century to the mid-20th century, including 500 volumes of law and economics dating from before the end of the 18th century. It is distinguished by the presence of particular collections from donations and legacies: the Antonelli, Barthélemy and Geddes collections.
In the premises of the university library of law, economics and management, you have access to the scientific and cultural heritage of the Academy of Sciences and Letters of Montpellier. Heir to the Royal Society of Sciences created by Louis XIV in 1706, the Academy of Sciences and Letters of Montpellier was born under its current name in 1846. Dealing with science, literature and medicine, it set up a library in 1921, which today contains 50,000 books, brochures and periodicals from the 18th century to the present day, more than half of which are in foreign languages.

The BU Pharmacy-PACES holds the collections transferred in 1886 by the Montpellier School of Pharmacy, which include donations from professors François-Joseph Rey (1758-1826) and François-Hugues Romeo Pouzin (1795-1860), as well as from the Montpellier School of Agriculture. This collection, rich in 5000 documents, is both local and encyclopaedic. Botany and zoology account for a quarter of the volumes; pharmacy and its history, medicine and toxicology, as well as literature, philosophy and geography, are also important.
Full details of the various holdings can be found on the BU website.

Manuscripts

The most prestigious manuscripts are kept in the BU Historique de Médecine. This collection consists of 900 manuscripts, two thirds of which are from the medieval period, covering all fields of knowledge.
For the Middle Ages, literature dominates: classical letters, chivalry novels (a Perceval by Chrétien de Troyes, three copies of the Roman de la Rose), Italian poets such as Dante and Petrarch. Then come the religious manuscripts: richly illustrated Bibles, Korans, theological sums, lives of saints, breviaries and missals. The essential medical texts are there: Hippocrates and Galen, Avicenna, Albucasis (in two illuminated copies, one of which in the Gascon language belonged to Gaston Phébus) and Arnaud de Villeneuve, or Gui de Chauliac and Roger de Parme with their surgical procedures. Music, including a Tonaire from the 11th century and the magnificent 13th century chansonnier, law and philosophy are also present.
Fifty-nine manuscripts are from the Carolingian period, including the oldest in the collection, a psalter from 780 that belonged to a member of Charlemagne's family. Others date from the 16th century - a superb Portulan combining medieval cartography and great discoveries, from the 17th century - correspondence of Christine of Sweden - or from the 18th century - lectures by doctors from Montpellier. The gathering of such varied manuscripts within a medical faculty is without equal and constitutes the real treasure and originality of the library.
Manuscript documents may also be found in specialised collections, such as the Gergonne collection of the BU Sciences.

Archives

The archives constitute a unique source that is indispensable for any scientific research on the history, organisation and evolution of the institution as well as on teaching and research.
The oldest administrative archives are today preserved, in part, in the departmental archives of the Hérault and, in part, in the university libraries. The latter are in particular the legal depositories of theses and keep some of the collections of professors they have donated.
For modern and contemporary archives, the archives are kept by each faculty and their treatment is coordinated by the archives service. Several collections have been classified and inventoried, sometimes followed by transfer to the Hérault departmental archives. Other transfer projects are underway.
Depending on the period you are interested in, you can contact one or other of these services.

The ancient collection (13th-18th centuries) is kept and managed by the university library. This collection was the subject of an inventory drawn up by Joseph Calmette, archivist-paleographer, and published in 1912 in the second part of volume 2 of the Cartulaire de l'Université de Montpellier.

The modern collection (19th-20th centuries) is managed by the university's archives service. These archives have been partly classified and inventoried.
They can be consulted:

  • the archives relating to the general administration of the Faculty of Medicine from 1794 to 1981
  • the archives relating to education from 1739 to 1982
  • 643 posters preserved by the Faculty of Medicine dating from 1862 to 1985
  • as well as numerous registers of matriculation, examination registration, examination results and theses from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The inventories are available for download in the online section below.
The library provides access to both collections in accordance with the rules for the communication of public archives. In addition, each reader is subject to the law on the re-use of public data.

The original Liber Rectorum is kept by the University Library of Medicine under the reference H595. This document contains the statutes, regulations, concessions and confirmations of privileges from 1326 to 1523. A copy of the Liber Rectorum dating from the 17th century is kept in the departmental archives in series D (archives prior to 1790).
Individual student files, teaching schedules, registers of deliberations of councils and assemblies, etc. have also been kept in the Hérault departmental archives since 1997, under the reference 8ETP (University of Montpellier 1 - Teaching of law, medicine, pharmacy, management, odontology, sports sciences (1800-1985)).
The most recent archives are kept within the faculty.

The registers of the 19th and 20th centuries, kept within the faculty, are currently the subject of a project to transfer them to the Departmental Archives of the Hérault.
As for the most recent archives, they are also kept within the faculty.

The archives of the Faculty of Science were deposited in 2014 in the departmental archives of the Hérault.
The most recent ones are kept at the faculty.

Online

Access part of the university's heritage resources online, free of charge, thanks to the digitisation work carried out by the inter-university documentary cooperation service as part of the Foli@ online heritage library. The first digitised corpus represents more than 90,000 issues of medieval manuscripts, old prints (15th-19th centuries) on the history of medicine and pharmacy in Montpellier, on the history of botany, and 18th century optical views.

The archive inventories can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:

Contact

Documentary Heritage Department
2, rue de l'Ecole de Médecine
34000 Montpellier
Tel: 04 34 43 35 80 / 04 34 43 33 88
Email

A question? One answer!

A question? One answer!

Archives Department
163 rue Auguste Broussonnet
34000 Montpellier
Tel. 04 34 43 33 87 / 33 89
Email