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Procès de Rennes photograph album


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

In the fall of 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), a French military officer was falsely accused of treason and by January of 1895, he had been arrested, taken into custody, imprisoned in secrecy, and stripped of his rank. He was deported to Devil's Island where he remained until 1899 when he was re-tried in the city of Rennes, as a result of a number of supporters, including Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquart, August Scheurer-Kestner, Emile Zola, and Dreyfus's wife, Lucie, and brother, Mathieu, who worked to bring about a new trial. In August, 1899, "Army representatives, barristers, and journalists, domestic and international, flocked to Rennes, [where] Anti-Dreyfusard demonstrations broke out in the streets and an attempt was make on the life of Fernand Labori, Dreyfus's attorney," ("Brief History of the Affair).

Dreyfus was convicted a second time, despite lack of real evidence, and on September 9, 1899, was sentenced to ten more years of prison. However, people across the world were outraged by what was seen as a gross violation of justice, and Dreyfus was offered a pardon, offered by President Emile Loubet; but it was not until 1903 that the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the conviction of the trial at Rennes. Dreyfus returned to service in the Army in 1906 and served in World War I.

For more information on the Dreyfus Affair, see description of the Lorraine Beitler collection as well as a description of an exhibit of her material at the United States Naval Academy (

This photograph album consists of thirty original photographs documenting the Trial in Rennes, in 1899, all with captions in French. There are some missing photographs, although the captions provide descriptions of the missing images. There are also reproductions of images which appear to have been clipped from magazines or newspapers—they consist largely of portraits of officials involved with the case.

The original photographs, many of which are quite faded, appear to have been taken by an amateur, but it is unclear if the photographer was the person who assembled the album. The images feature scenes such as the home of the Dreyfus family (la villa Goddard), Rennes street scenes, the area around the prison in which Dreyfus was held, the media awaiting news from the trial, and people involved in the trial, including defense and prosecution witnesses. Named people in photographs include: Madame Lucie Dreyfus, Monsieur Hadamard (her father?), Jean Paul Pierre Casimir-Perier, Ferdinand Walsin, Esterhazy, Commandant Louis Cuignet, Colonel Hubert-Joseph Henry, Jules Claretie, a journalist Chincholle, Colonel Cordier, Captain Lebrun Renault, Monsieur and Madame Labori, General Raoul de Boisdeffre, General Jean-Baptiste Billot, Lt. Colonel [Fanriaux], Lt. Colonel Georges Picquart, Cernusky, and Commandant Larache.

Portraits of people involved in the case (reproduction images) include Edgar Demange and Fernand Labori (lawyers for Dreyfus); Monsieur Mornard (lawyer for Madame Drefus), Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquart (principal defender of Dreyfus); Séverine (who proclaimed the innocence of Dreyfus); Jean Jaurés, Joseph Reinach, Ludovic Trarieux, August Scheurer-Kestner, Albert Clémenceau, Octave Mirbeau, and Anatole France, all of whom are labeled as defenders of Dreyfus. There are also two portraits of Dreyfus included. In addition to showing the key people involved in this case, this album shows clearly the sensationalism of the event, with the crowds of people awaiting the verdict, the media waiting for news, and the police and military presence in the town.

Sold by Jean-Baptiste de Proyart, 2018

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2021 August 26
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This collection is open for research use.

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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Procès de Rennes photograph album, 1899.
Box 1 Volume 1

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