French Funerary Materials Collection (MSE/MD 2816)
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.