Historical Study in Paris
January 30, 1903 — Adelphi Historical Club, Adelphi Academy, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn NY
Any one who expects to study history in France should first acquire as much information as possible along the particular line they have selected. Our schools and colleges afford excellent preparation in history, and they are improving in this resect from year to year. Next, one should gain a good working knowledge of the French language; that is, enough to enable them to read readily and to follow lectures easily.
When the student arrives in France he should do four things: He should first get acquainted with the lecture systems. The courses of lectures are very numerous; but they are all catalogued in a book that can easily be purchased at the schools. There are two sorts of lecture courses — those open to the public and those requiring a preliminary examination. The lectures are all free, as far as money is concerned. The lectures of the first class are delivered by popular men. They are interesting and contain much information, but do not lead to degree. Those of the second class are delivered by specialists. They are very detailed and of immense value and they necessitate on the part of the student hard work.
The next thing for the student to do is to get a library home. In the Latin Quarter, where most students reside, is an excellent one, students’ Library. A better one is the National Library, The help of the American Consulate must now be obtained in order to get a ticket of admission. The libraries are finely catalogued, and the librarians take great care with those whom they consider serious students.
The third thing for the student to do is to find the museums, for they are indispensable. The French have a passion for full illustration and explanation. The museums are incomparable.
The fourth care of the student is to get a circle of friends. Friends are as valuable as any of the other requisites I have mentioned. The French are the most helpful people in the world. When they have become convinced of the sincerity of one’s intentions, they seem to be unusual to do enough. A student should cultivate the society of the lecturers and of his fellow-students. Though they may at first be rather distant, nerve, a smiling face, and an earnest desire to work will always be appreciated, and will gain friends in the end.
It pays a student to take all the lecture courses possible, because of the greatness of the men who deliver them, and express their ideas. A diploma, or its equivalent, will gain one admittance to lectures of the second class without examination.
France has an atmosphere of romance that cannot be described. Every town, no matter how insignificant, is filled with relics dating from the time of the Commune back to Caesar’s conquest of Gaul. Every town has a museum and its local history, written by its local historian and published by its historical society. Even the peasants, ignorant of books though they may be, have a wonderfully interesting store of country-side traditions.
Source: The Standard Union (Brooklyn), 31 January, 1903, p. 4.