This huge project aims to gather together into a single publication the tens of thousands of letters written or dictated by Napoleon. The Committee is at present collecting letters from the great national archives and from private collectors, not mention analysing the texts already printed in about 50 different volumes published at different periods and comparing them with the manuscript originals.
The state of advancement
The participation of the public archives
Assistance in the tracking, pinpointing, and collecting of letters has been given to us by the French national public archival system as a whole.
The Archives de France (French national archive) has provided us with results from all the archives under their aegis (departemental, municipal…, etc.). This vast inquiry has made it possible for us to be completely exhaustive in terms of our document search in France. As a result we have found 9 originals.
The Archives du Ministère des Affaires étrangères (the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) has provided us with volumes required for the project and made it possible for us to extend our search to all the monographies to date publishing letters of Napoleon.
The Service Historique de l'Armée de Terre (S.H.A.T., the Historical Service of the French Army) at Vincennes has assisted us in getting copies of letters held in private hands.
The directors of the Centre historique des Archives nationales (C.H.A.N., the Historical Centre of the French National Archives), has facilitated our task by:
notifying us of letters by Napoleon going under auction; putting at our disposal the last part of the Fonds 400 AP, with its letters by Napoleon to his family; by accomodating Corresponding Members working on the private archives held at the CHAN: 25 Fonds to date have been checked.
The search outside France
The team has also performed a search world wide. All the countries of Europe have been subject to this search, and recently we have obtained more than 900 original letters from Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, UK, Belgium, Portugal, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden, not to mention also Brazil and Japan.
The state of advancement of the digitalisation of the letters
To date, 5,326 letters have been digitalised, in collaboration with the company AIS-Berger-Levrault, both in XML and in RTF format, the latter being the format in which the texts will be sent to the publisher.
The campaign for the digitalisation of the Correspondance published by order of Napoléon III and about thirty other works containing letters by Napoleon has been started. This digitalisation process should be complete in 5 to 6 months' time.
The results by number
— How many letters?
1,400 letters dealt with on paper will be entered into the Correspondance database.
2,867 letters have already been entered into the Correspondance database. These letters now have a datafile, their text has been established in accordance with the original and elementary background research has been performed upon them.
1,555 were not published in the Correspondance published by order of Napoléon III.
886 do not appear in any of what we have called our 'reference works', namely: the Correspondance published by order of Napoléon III, Léon Lecestre: Lettres Inédites vols 1 et 2, Léonce de Brotonne: Dernières Lettres Inédites vols 1 et 2, Léonce de Brotonne: Lettres Inédites and Jean Tulard: Lettres d'amour à Joséphine).
61 letters from collectors,
77 letters never before published,
76 letters in Napoleon's hand, of which 16 never before published.
— How many archives contacted?
More than 100 to date. Libraries, including notably the French Bibliothèque Nationale, are to contacted.
The whole of the letter-gathering part of the project should be finished by January 2004.
The participation of the Corresponding Members
About one hundred volunteers are helping daily with the project.
58 corresponding members are comparing the originals with the printed versions in order to establish a correct text for publishing.
Of these, six Fondation Napoléon research grant students are to participate in the annotation of the letters.
30 collectors have provided us with copied of the texts which they possess.
12 people in the French provinces have provided local information relevant to the project.
The annotation stage
The work of annotating each letter started several months ago. Work groups have been established for the first volumes (1781-1797 for volume one and 1798-1799 volume two), related to the specialisations of those doing the work. Scholars interested in taking part for the period covered by the volumes (1781-1821) would be welcomed with open arms.