[Thanks to Anna Patel, student assistant in Modern Books and Manuscripts, for contributing this post]
Houghton Library has recently acquired an exciting collection of Parisian ephemera from the end of the 19th century to the 20th. The materials range from playbills for the Folies Bergère Music Hall to hotel-provided monument maps to exhibition handbooks. Among the many interesting items in the collection are guides to Paris specifically written for foreign soldiers, reflecting Paris’s history of occupation, both by allies and enemies.
The first guide for foreign soldiers in the collection is “The Story of Paris”, written by John H. Dennison in 1918 for U.S. soldiers (see image, right). The English-language pamphlets disappeared when the Germans took the city in the summer of 1940, and by December of that year German-language guides had emerged, like the “Deutscher Soldaten-Führer durch Paris” (see image, below).
However, it is the sole German guide in this collection, and by 1944 the “British Army Welfare Services Map of Paris” was printed on the back of a reclaimed German map, and the U.S. War Department published “The Pocket Guide to Paris and the Cities of Northern France” (see image, below). Governments were not the only ones publishing for soldiers; shops soon caught on as well. In 1944 the department store Galeries Lafayette printed “Paris for Englishmen and Americans”.
A useful guidebook to the city, listing hotels, restaurants, and phrases, it is nothing like the pamphlet published in 1918 by Les Grands Magasins du Louvre, another department store, which dubs Englishmen and Americans “our brothers-in-arms” and begs them to “take good care not to forget the pleasant hours spent in the capital”.
Top left: (96) War Department, Washington, D.C. Pocket Guide to Paris and the Cities of Northern France: pamphlet; maps, 1944.
Top right: (36) John H. Dennison. The Story of Paris: pamphlet; maps, 1918. A brief descriptive guide to points of interest in the city prepared by John H. Dennison [1870-1936] for the Use of the American Young Men’s Christian Assn. A E. F. and published for the use of American Soldiers and Sailors.
Middle: (94) Paris 1940: pamphlet; maps, 1940. German guide book, printed with the authorization of the Paris commandant, October 1940.
Bottom: (95) Deutscher Soldaten-Führer durch Paris: pamphlet; maps, 1940 December.
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