Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Ferdinand Forzinetti:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Collection of Alfred Dreyfus and the Dreyfus Affair at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Forzinetti, Ferdinand, 1839-1909
Title: Collection of Alfred Dreyfus and the Dreyfus Affair
Dates: 1894-1947
Extent: 2 boxes, 1 oversize folder (.84 linear feet)
Abstract: This collection contains letters, documents, and photographs related to the Dreyfus Affair. Correspondents of note include George Clemenceau, Alfred Dreyfus, Ferdinand Labori, Auguste Mercier, Georges Picquart, and Joseph Reinach. Documents include the text of the "Bordereau"; Forzinetti's communications with the military command regarding the incarceration and treatment of Dreyfus; Emile Zola's article "J'Accuse"; a copy of Dreyfus's compilation of letters to his wife, Lettres D'un Innocent; and correspondence of the subsequent generation. Photographic images include a police photograph of Dreyfus taken after his degradation ceremony, and portraits of Georges-Marie Picquart, Emile Zola, and Alfred Dreyfus.
RLIN Record #: None
Language: Most material in English and French .
Access:

Open for research




URL:

www.hrc.utexa.edu/research/fa/forzinetti.hp.html

Acquisition:

Purchase, 2004 (Reg. 15273)

Processed by:

Alex Jasinski and Liz Murray, 2004

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center


In October 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff trainee of the 14th Artillery, was accused of high treason and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island. Ferdinand Forzinetti, commandant of Cherche-Midi military prison where Dreyfus was first held, was convinced of Dreyfus's innocence from the beginning and is credited as the first Frenchman to protest his innocence. This collection of letters, documents, and photographs provides a unique vantage point for understanding the Dreyfus Affair, which became the vortex of French politics in the latter part of the 19th century.

This collection is arranged primarily in chronological order, following the descriptive catalogue The Forzinetti Archive & The Dreyfus Affair, by Patrick J. McGrath and Glenn Horowitz. A copy of the catalogue is available in the repository with the inventory. In a few instances, the date arrangement has been adjusted to facilitate the narrative. The collection items are in individual folders and are described individually in the following folder list. Folder numbers follow the catalogue's item numbers, and narrative headings from the catalogue also appear in the folder list. While the documents are present in the original French language, translations by Professor Julie Fette of the University of Maryland are provided in the catalogue, and dates have been anglicized.

Correspondents of note include George Clemenceau, Alfred Dreyfus, Ferdinand Labori, Auguste Mercier, Georges Picquart, and Joseph Reinach. There are over thirty letters from Dreyfus to Forzinetti during the eleven year period from 1899-1909, dating from Dreyfus's pardon to Forzinetti's death. Transcriptions of Forzinetti's letters to Dreyfus are also present. Authors and photographers of the letters, documents, and photographs are listed in the index at the end of the finding aid.

The documents include the text of the "Bordereau," written by Dreyfus at his second court martial in 1899; Forzinetti's communications with the military command regarding the incarceration and treatment of Dreyfus; Emile Zola's explosive article "J'Accuse" in the January 1898 issue of L'Aurore; and a copy of Dreyfus's compilation of letters to his wife, Lettres D'un Innocent, published in 1898. In all, the documents trace the narrative from its duplicitous beginnings, through the coverup, to exoneration, all with an overlay of anti-Semitism and political intrigue. The papers also reflect the price Forzinetti paid for his convictions, for he did not fair well at the hands of the authorities, as his military career faltered and finally ended in the early 1900s.

Photographic images include a police photograph of Dreyfus taken after the degradation ceremony on January 5, 1895; and portrait photographs of Georges-Marie Picquart, Emile Zola, and Alfred Dreyfus.

The papers also contain correspondence of the subsequent generation, through the sons of Dreyfus and Forzinetti. Forzinetti's son, Louis, annotated many of the documents and letters, adding dates and other pertinent information.

Much of the material is fragile and has been housed in mylar sleeves. Care should be taken in handling these papers.

Additional material by and about Alfred Dreyfus and the Dreyfus Affair can be found in the Ransom Center's Ernest William Smith and Carlton Lake Collections. These materials include books, newspapers and magazines, a number of letters and postcards, and two original drawings of courtroom events (one by Paul Renouard), as well as items concerning the British film The Dreyfus Case (1931).