The Northwestern University Library will return a letter written by the brother of Emperor Napoleon I at a repatriation ceremony Thursday in Evanston.
Dated April 27, 1792, the hand-written letter by Joseph Bonaparte, the emperor's 22-year-old brother, discusses a skirmish in Corsica. Northwestern will present the letter, along with 250 documents, to M. Graham Paul, consul general of France in Chicago, at the ceremony. In 2009, NU archivist Jason Nargis discovered the letter, written in Italian and signed "Buonaparte," while cataloging the library's McBride Collection.
The library received this collection from the family of an American entertainer named Jack McBride, who was stationed in Corsica during World War II. McBride is credited with saving the collection when he stopped soldiers from burning the documents.
The ceremony follows an NU symposium, "Retour a la France: Restoring Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century," in which Northwestern librarians will discuss the rediscovery and identification of letters in the McBride Collection. Also speaking will be Northwestern historian Peter Hayes and Theodore Zev Weiss, NU's Holocaust Educational Foundational professor, on "The U.S. and the Repatriation of Objects Taken in World War II."
The symposium and ceremony will start at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Big Ten Room of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Dr., Evanston. The free event, which is open to the public but seating is limited. For more information, go to northwestern.edu.