The foundation in 1852
The Society of the History of French Protestantism (SHPF) was founded in 1852 by a group of “advocates of history as a science and friends of the Protestant faith”. Their goal was “to search for and gather all documents, unpublished or printed, related to the French-speaking Protestant Churches, in order to study them and to make them known”. In order to make such research and these documents available, the Society publishes a monthly revue: Le Bulletin de La SHPF.
After fifteen years of existence, the Bulletin started catering for a larger number of readers by publishing stories and popularized historical articles along with scholarly research in order to build a common Protestant memory. In 1866, the library of the SHPF was likewise created. Two years later, the library disposed of 7,000 volumes and numerous manuscripts. In1885, it moved into the building situated at 54, rue des Saints-Pères.
The SHPF today
For over a century and a half, the SHPF has been publishing the Bulletin de la SHPF (a quarterly since 1914). A special issue came out in November 2002 for the 150th anniversary of the SHPF, gathering 25 contributions of historians from various backgrounds concerning the history of the SHPF and the historiography of Protestantism since 1945.
The library continues to be enriched by the addition of ancient books, theses and current works concerning French Protestantism. It is open to researchers from 2 pm to 6 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday all day (10 am to 6 pm) on Thursdays. It lends documents (manuscripts, ancient books, prints) for exhibitions. Since 2001, the entire library catalogue has been computerized.
For several years, a Centre of Protestant Genealogy has been using material kept in the library of the SHPF, more particularly copies of parish records. The Centre regularly publishes Cahiers and enriches the files of the Huguenot Refuges.
The SHPF also contributes to the influence of places that keep Protestant memory alive, namely museums and libraries scattered all over France. The oldest place is the Desert Museum founded in 1911 in the house where the “Camisard” chief Rolland was born, the Soubeyran farmhouse near Mialet in the Gard region.
The Society for the History of French Protestantism
54 rue des Saints-Pères
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Society for the History
of French Protestantism
54 Rue des Saints-Pères, 75007 Paris, France
- Site de la Société de l’histoire du protestantisme français | Link
The Désert museum
The “Désert” period in French Protestantism lasted from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIIV (1685) to the Edict of Tolerance (1787), when Louis XVI restored civil rights to all non-catholics. It was a period when the protestants resisted pressure against them to convert to catholicism – at the beginning they took to arms (the Camisard revolt), but later they rejected the idea of violent combat, choosing instead a pacifist attitude. It was a dangerous time for them and crucial for the survival of their faith in France.
The French Protestant Museum of the West of France
12 kilometers south-west of Pouzauges, in “Le Bois Tiffrais” (or Tiffray), in the commune of Monsireigne, the Société d’histoire du protestantisme français has set up a museum in a building which has nearly always been in the hands of protestants since the XVIth century. It was redesigned as a “French château” at the end of the XIXth century.
Museum of the Cevenol Valleys
In this traditionally deeply protestant region, this hostile environment has had its effect on the local inhabitants : farmers here had to be tough, uncompromising, brave and with great willpower to overcome obstacles and difficulties if they were to survive. The Bible has always been their source of inspiration, strength and happiness.