The literary archives include archival fonds and collections which document the work of various writers in French and Canadian literature from the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century.
Manuscrits français collection
The largest collection is the Manuscrits français collection (30-005). Acquired by the Département de français of the University of Ottawa a few years after its foundation in 1968, the purchase of the collection of original documents was intended to encourage students to research French literature. It was subsequently transferred to the Archives and Special Collections in the 1970s in order to ensure its preservation and accessibility.
This collection includes handwritten works, many of which are unpublished, such as correspondence and drawings, which reflect various currents of French literature from the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century. This collection is divided into 75 series which correspond to individual writers and artists including Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Jean Cocteau, Robert Desnos, Gustave Flaubert, Jean Giono, Jeanne Mühlfeld, George Sand, and Emile Zola. While some series contain less than a dozen documents, others are much larger and provide a greater insight into the world of the author or the artist. For example, this is the case for the Jacques Baron series, the Francis Picabia series, and the Georges-Ribemont Dessaignes series.
Other important archival fonds
Among the other archival fonds related to the field of literature there is the Paul Bernard Robert fonds (30-022) which offers extensive material on the work of the French woman of letters and journalist, Henriette Charasson (1884-1972).
Literary archives can also be found in the Catherine Ahearn fonds (30-001), the first poet Laureate of the City of Ottawa in 1982, who donated an important collection of documents related to the surrealist poet Jacques Baron to the Archives and Special Collections (Jacques Baron Séries); the Kathleen Moore-Pageot fonds (30-007), a Montreal poet and editor of the Athanor magazine from 1979 to 1982; and the Patricia Morley fonds (30-024) which contains documentation related to her writing of Leo Kennedy’s biography.