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Francisco Ferrer Collection
MSS 0248  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Historical Background
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Ferrer, Sol
    Title: Francisco Ferrer Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1891-1979
    Extent: 12.40 linear feet (18 archives boxes, 1 shoebox, and 11 oversize folders)
    Abstract: This collection was compiled primarily by Sol Ferrer Sanmarti, the daughter of Francisco Ferrer Guardia (1859-1909), a theoretical anarchist from Catalonia and the founder of La Escuela Moderna. The Francisco Ferrer Guardia material spans the last eight years of his life, from the establishment of La Escuela Moderna in 1901 to his execution in 1909. It consists of Ferrer Guardia's correspondence between 1902-1909, the original manuscript of his "Principios de la Moral Cientifica," transcriptions by Sol Ferrer of other writings, copies of legal documents including his will and estate inventory, and correspondence of his colleagues Charles Ange Laisant (1841-1920) and Charles Malato (1857-1938). The bulk of the collection dates from the 1940s through the 1970s and consists of correspondence, writings and lectures by Sol Ferrer in French and Spanish, research material she collected for her dissertation and books on Francisco Ferrer Guardia, commemorative material and photographs. There is also a small amount of material related to Sol Ferrer's daughter, Olga Prejevalinsky Ferrer. The collection is arranged in seven series: 1) FRANCISCO FERRER GUARDIA, 2) CHARLES ANGE LAISANT, 3) CHARLES MALATO, 4) SOL FERRER, 5) RESEARCH MATERIALS ABOUT FRANCISCO FERRER, 6) EPHEMERA, PHOTOGRAPHS AND SCRAPBOOKS, and 7) OLGA P. FERRER.
    Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Collection number: MSS 0248
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    Collection is open for research.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Francisco Ferrer Collection, MSS 0248. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Historical Background

    Francisco Ferrer Guardia, a theoretical anarchist and the founder of La Escuela Moderna, was born January 10, 1849, in Allela, a small town near Barcelona. His parents were practicing Catholics, but his uncle was a freethinker who influenced him strongly. Consequently, Ferrer became a follower of the republican radical Manuel Ruiz Zorilla, and he frequently acted as a messenger for the exiled leader. In 1885, when Ruiz Zorilla attempted a coup that failed, Ferrer was also forced into exile.
    Ferrer went to Paris with his wife of five years, Therese Sanmarti, and their three daughters, Trinidad, Paz and Sol. In 1893, after a stormy and sometimes violent relationship, Ferrer and his wife separated. Therese moved to the Ukraine with Sergei de Moering, a Russian aristocrat, taking her daughter Sol with her. In 1899, Ferrer entered into a common law marriage with Leopoldine Bonnard, a wealthy teacher who was associated with the Parisian free-thought movement. Together they had a son, Riego. Ferrer's unconventional private life aroused suspicion among more traditional elements in French and Catalan society, and it often discredited him in the eyes of his political supporters.
    Ferrer remained in Paris for sixteen years. He was an active Dreyfusard, a member of the Grand Orient, a delegate to the Second International, and a supporter of a new form of libertarian education being practiced at a primary school in Cempuis, France. He also offered free Spanish lessons. One of his most notable pupils was a wealthy spinster named Jeanne Ernestine Meunie. In March 1901, Meunie died suddenly, leaving Ferrer a sizable fortune.
    Ferrer returned to Spain, now more of a threat to Spanish authorities than ever -- not only was he a radical reformer, but a wealthy one. On September 8, 1901, Ferrer opened La Escuela Moderna. The professed goal of the school was to educate the working class in a rational, secular and non-coercive setting, but its high tuition allowed only wealthy middle class students to attend. It was privately hoped that when the time was ripe for revolutionary action, these students would be motivated to lead the working classes.
    La Escuela Moderna grew rapidly. By 1906, thirty-four schools with over 1,000 students were directly or indirectly influenced by the school and its textbooks. With the urging of Lerroux, the leader of the Radicals, a left wing republican party, Ferrer helped to organize lower cost schools in areas sympathetic to the Radical party. These schools competed with Catholic schools and were openly anticlerical. Religious leaders, in an unsuccessful attempt to shut the schools down, accused Ferrer and Lerroux of using the schools as fronts in order to obtain municipal subsidies to fund Radical party activities. Despite this considerable opposition, Ferrer viewed the project as even more successful than La Escuela Moderna because it directly affected the working class. He devoted considerable time and money in order to ensure the school's success.
    Ferrer continued to test the tolerance of Spanish authorities and clerics by organizing a massive demonstration on Good Friday (April 12, 1906) in support of secular education. Furthermore, late in 1905, Ferrer began living with Soledad Villafranca, a teacher in La Escuela Moderna who was twenty two years his junior. Then, on May 31, 1906, a young man named Mateo Morral threw a bomb at King Alphonso XIII's wedding party. Morral was an employee in Ferrer's publishing firm, and police speculated that Ferrer had encouraged Morral to throw the bomb. Ferrer, who had been a suspect in two previous political assassinations, was arrested on June 4, 1906, and placed in the Carcel Modelo in Madrid. He was finally released June 12, 1907, due to insufficient evidence.
    During Ferrer's incarceration, La Escuela Moderna was shut down and would not open its doors again. After his release, the Radical Party was reluctant to maintain connections with Ferrer because of his well-publicized imprisonment. Isolated, Ferrer returned to Paris together with C. A. Laisant, L. Descartes, Eugenio Fourniere, C. Malato, A. Naquet, and Sembat. There, with the intent of continuing the work they had begun in Spain, they founded the International League for the Rational Education of Children. In 1908, Ferrer began publishing L'ECOLE RENOVEE, a magazine intended to promote communication among European educators. He also continued the publication of his BOLETIN DE LA ESCUELA MODERNA DE BARCELONA. Ferrer soon realized, however, that he had lost his ability to influence directly the educational movement in Spain. His old interest in anarcho-syndicalism reemerged, and he began to devote more and more of his time to the Catalan labor movement.
    In July of 1909, political events in Spain spun out of control. Spontaneous protests broke out in the streets, evolving into a massive general strike. Revolutionary leaders, anxious to seize the moment, were ultimately unprepared and thus lost control of the crowds. The result was five days of mob rule known today as the Tragic Week.
    On July 28, martial law was declared throughout Spain, and a brutal military suppression continued until September. Anyone deemed dangerous to the government was jailed. Francisco Ferrer was found late in September and thrown in the dreaded fortress of Montjuich in Barcelona. A hurried trial ensued, in which he was accused of fomenting the insurrection. Ferrer had very little, if anything, to do with the uprising, but false evidence and forced confessions were produced. The government still believed that Ferrer had instigated the assassination attempt on the king in 1906 and wanted revenge. Ferrer was put to death by firing squad on October 13, 1909. Because Ferrer was well-known internationally, his execution caused a sensation throughout North America and Western Europe. In Great Britain, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle protested with Peter Kropotkin and other anarchists. Ferrer was named a martyr for free thought and, by his execution, became one of the most famous of Spanish anarchists.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Accession Processed in 1996
    The first series, FRANCISCO FERRER GUARDIA, is arranged in four subseries: A) Correspondence, B) Writings - Original Manuscripts, C) Writings - Manuscripts Transcribed by Sol Ferrer, and D) Legal Documents.
    A) Correspondence. This subseries is arranged chronologically and contains letters written by Ferrer to colleagues and family between 1904-1909. Most of the letters are written to Charles A. Laisant and Charles Malato, but also included is correspondence with his daughters Paz and Trinidad, his brother Jose, Pedro Vallina, and Juan Colominas Maseras. Of particular note are the letters Ferrer wrote to Malato during his incarceration in the Modelo Prison between June 26, 1906, and June 7, 1907. These letters provide an account of Ferrer's experiences and thoughts, strategies for freeing him legally, the closure of La Escuela Moderna, his observations on the articles and books he was reading, his persecution by the Jesuits, and his treatment in prison.
    B) Writings - Original Manuscripts. This subseries contains the original manuscript for Principios de Moral Cientifica, written by Ferrer during his imprisonment in the Carcel Modelo in Madrid.
    C) Writings - Manuscripts Transcribed by Sol Ferrer. This subseries contains transcribed, edited, and translated versions of Ferrer's writings prepared for publication by his daughter Sol Ferrer: LA CAUSA CONTRA FRANCISCO FERRER, LA ESCUELA MODERNA, and Principios de Moral Cientifica.
    D) Legal Documents. This subseries is arranged chronologically and includes notarized transcriptions of the baptism certificates for Ferrer Guardia and members of his family; copies of Ferrer's membership certificates for the Freemasons of Spain and the Grand Orient of Paris; a copy of the will of Jeanne Ernestine Meunie; an extract of the register of the deliberation of the Couderkerque-Branche's Municipal Council meeting of November 12, 1909; court proceedings from the Assize Court of the Seine regarding Pedro Vallina's plot to assassinate Alphonso XIII; the inventory of Ferrer's estate; and Ferrer's last will and testament dated October 13, 1909.
    The second series, CHARLES ANGE LAISANT, contains correspondence and a pamphlet entitled A LA PORTE L'ASSASSIN. Charles Ange Laisant, a French mathematician and the vice-president of the Societe Astronomique de France, was a close friend and supporter of Francisco Ferrer. These items were acquired by Sol Ferrer after her father's death in 1909.
    The correspondence, dated 1906-1910, reflects Laisant's admiration for Ferrer. The only letter from 1906 is written to the Royal Academy of Sciences of Madrid protesting the incarceration of Ferrer. Laisant and colleague E. Carvallo insisted that Ferrer was persecuted solely because he was a rationalist educator and feared that if this injustice was ignored by the intellectual community, then others with radical ideas would also be unfairly jailed. Laisant launched a larger letter writing campaign in 1909 when Ferrer was jailed and shot by the Spanish government. Alphonso XIII was a member of the Societe Astronomique de France, and Laisant wanted the king's membership suspended. Laisant corresponded with several important figures, including Gabrielle Camille Flammarion, Alfred Naquet, and Francisco Galceran, accusing the king of being a murderer and thus unfit to be a member of the society. It was decided that the society would publish a pamphlet, A LA PORTE L'ASSASSIN, signed by all senior members. The pamphlet, published in 1910, is included at the end of this series.
    The third series, CHARLES MALATO, is arranged in two subseries: A) Correspondence and B) Miscellaneous Documents. Charles Malato, a French revolutionary and propagandist, was a close friend of Francisco Ferrer. These items were acquired by Sol Ferrer after the death of her father.
    A) Correspondence. This subseries spans the years 1891-1914 and contains correspondence with several notable figures, including Alejandro Lerroux, Pedro Vallina, Anselmo Lorenzo, and Henri Rochefort. The fifteen letters do not have a common focus or theme.
    B) Miscellaneous Documents. This subseries is arranged chronologically and contains four items: an 1897 announcement and program for a benefit event; an 1872 summons for Malato from the French commander general regarding an insurrectionary movement; Malato's French travel permits from 1878; and his membership card for the Association Fraternelle des Anciens Combattants et des Amis de la Commune.
    The fourth series, SOL FERRER, contains five subseries; A) Biographical Material, B) Correspondence, C) Writings, D) Lectures, and E) Organizations. These items form the bulk of the collection.
    A) Biographical Material. This subseries is arranged alphabetically and contains official certificates and documents and autobiographical notes by Sol Ferrer that reflect on her life and her experiences.
    B) Correspondence. This subseries is arranged chronologically and spans the period 1920 -1970. It contains letters to and from Sol Ferrer's colleagues and friends. Some of the letters discuss Sol Ferrer's research projects, but most are personal. The correspondence logs at the end of the series contain drafts of letters Sol Ferrer wrote, most undated.
    C) Writings. This subseries begins with Sol Ferrer's numbered files of her writings in her original order and is followed by a significant number of her writings, most of which deal with her father's life and work. There are several drafts of her published work, LA VIE ET L'OEUVRE DE FRANCISCO FERRER, UN MARTYR AU XXe SIECLE (1962), which was largely adapted from her Ph.D. dissertation, LA PENSEE POLITIQUE ET SOCIALE DE FRANCISCO FERRER GUARDIA (1959).
    D) Lectures. This subseries is arranged alphabetically and contains drafts of lectures given by Sol Ferrer during the period 1949 - 1970. The majority of texts are in French. In addition to addressing topics related to her father, she also spoke on Spanish history and politics.
    E) Organizations. This subseries contains the statutes, forms, minutes, and correspondence for the Association Internationale des Amis de Francisco Ferrer, founded in 1960, and conference material from the 33rd Congres Internationale de la Libre Pensee held in 1959. The conference was dedicated to the work of Francisco Ferrer and the material includes the program, conference papers in several languages and photographs.
    The fifth series, RESEARCH MATERIALS, contains five subseries: A) Bibliographic Information on Francisco Ferrer, B) Sol Ferrer's Notes on Writings of Others, C) Sol Ferrer's Journals and Miscellaneous Notes, D) Newspaper Clippings, and E) Writings of Others.
    A) Bibliographic Information on Francisco Ferrer. This subseries includes research notes that Sol Ferrer compiled and notecards that provide an exhaustive bibliography for Francisco Ferrer.
    B) Sol Ferrer's Notes on Writings of Others. This subseries is arranged alphabetically and contains notes on the material read and consulted while preparing her dissertation, books, articles, and lectures.
    C) Sol Ferrer's Journals and Miscellaneous Notes. This subseries is arranged chronologically and contains notebooks with notes on readings, draft correspondence, and newspaper clippings. Sol Ferrer's research took her to the British Museum Library, the Lenin Library and the New York Public Library, among others. She read and took notes in English and Russian.
    D) Newspaper Clippings. This subseries is contains articles about Francisco Ferrer, dated 1906-1969, and miscellaneous articles, dated mostly in the 1950s.
    E) Writings of Others. This subseries contains writings and plays, mostly about Ferrer, by various authors. Of note is the original manuscript of the play FLOREAL by Jean Pierre Chardon. FLOREAL was translated into Spanish by Anselmo Lorenzo and published by La Escuela Moderna in 1906.
    This series spans the period 1909-1964 and contains items devoted almost entirely to Francisco Ferrer. Included are photographs of Ferrer and his family, scrapbooks created by Sol Ferrer that contain commemorative pamphlets, flyers, photographs of memorial services and monuments, and postcards of Ferrer and monuments.
    This series is arranged in two subseries: A) Biographical Material and Writings, B) Correspondence and C) Bartolome Soler Materials.
    A) Biographical Material and Writings. This small subseries is arranged alphabetically and contains certification of Olga P. Ferrer's doctoral degree, notebooks, two photographs and newspaper clippings.
    B) Correspondence. This subseries is arranged chronologically and contains family and general correspondence.
    C) Bartolome Soler Materials. Olga Ferrer worked as Soler's literary agent.
    Books and journals received in the 1995 accession of the Francisco Ferrer Guardia Collection have been separated from the collection and added elsewhere to the Library's holdings. To identify and list these items, conduct an author search in ROGER on the term "Ferrer, Sol former owner."

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Ferrer Guardia, Francisco, 1859-1909 -- Archives
    Ferrer Guardia, Francisco, 1859-1909 -- Bibliography
    Ferrer, Sol -- Archives
    Laisant, Charles Ange -- Archives
    Malato, Charles -- Archives
    Anarchism -- Spain
    Anarchists -- Spain
    Barcelona (Spain) -- History -- Revolution, 1909
    Spain -- History -- 20th century
    Photographic prints -- 20th century.


    Ferrer, Olga
    Soler, Bartolomé, 1894-
    Laisant, Charles Ange, -- correspondent
    Malato, Charles, -- correspondent
    Ferrer Guardia, Francisco, 1859-1909
    Ferrer Guardia, Francisco, 1859-1909, -- correspondent
    Ferrer Guardia, Francisco, 1859-1909. -- Principios de moral scientifica
    Ferrer, Sol, -- correspondent
    Ferrer, Sol. -- Vie et l'œuvre de Francisco Ferrer, un martyr au XXe siècle
    Diez, Laín. -- Francisco Ferrer
    Chardon, Jean-Pierre. -- Floreal
    Collida, J. -- Brilliant flash
    Concordia, Tomaso. -- Martirio de Francisco Ferrer
    Antioch, Jean. -- Pedagogia de Francisco Ferrer
    Benet, Josep. -- Maragall i la Setmana Tràgica