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MS Typ 1150

French devotional image collection, ca. 1840-1995: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b
Call No.: MS Typ 1150
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Title: French devotional image collection,
Date(s): 1840-1995.
Quantity: 1 collection (10 boxes (3 linear ft.)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in French. Also includes some English.
Abstract: Collection of ca. 3800 printed French devotional images (holy cards).

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

2011H-67. Purchased with the Susan Bennett Fund for Printing and Graphics and the De Cuevas, Deknatel, Loring, Nordell, Rheault and Vershbow Fund; received: 2012 February 14.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

French Devotional Image Collection, ca. 1840-1995 (MS Typ 1150). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

Devotional image cards, or holy cards or prayer cards, are part of Roman Catholic and popular visual folk culture. Small, devotional pictures depict a religious scene or a saint in an image about the size of a playing card, and are mass-printed for the use of the faithful. Cards combine text and religious images and the reverse typically contains a prayer.


Cards arrived in repository already organized thematically, then chronologically within each category.

Scope and Contents

Subject of images includes: communion, memorials, sacred heart, French and other saints, the Virgin Mary, and many other Roman Catholic religious topics.
Ca. 3800 cards pasted onto sheets and held in loose-leaf binders. Cards printed in France, many printed in Paris. Most cards have a minute imprint; many producers of cards were in a heavy concentration in the few streets around the church of Saint Sulpice in Paris. Cards were received having been pasted onto blank sheets of paper, many versos have been photocopied and are also provided, and the collector has also added many manuscript notes in French.

Container List