A Belgian family donates more than 1,000 books to the Joan of Arc center in Orléans

A Belgian family donates more than 1,000 books to the Joan of Arc center in Orléans
A Belgian family donates more than 1,000 books to the Joan of Arc center in Orléans

It’s a rather exceptional story that played out this Monday, May 6 in Orléans: the Van Baël family, installed near Brussels, came to deliver to the Jeanne d’Arc house in Orléans a little more of 1,000 works relating to the life and work of the heroine. This one-of-a-kind collection belonged to Jean-Charles Van Baël, a Belgian sports teacher, who died in 2019. “For 25 years, my dad was passionate about the life of Joan of Arc ” explains his son Jean-Michel, “When he died, I started looking for who might be interested in France and one thing led to another, I came across Orléans and the research center“.

“My dad really cared about this collection and we want it to continue to be used”

This collection counts exactly 1,070 works half of which do not appear today at the Orléans research center. “There are very old books from the 17th and 18th century and more modern things like Joan of Arc for dummies. It’s very eclectic” recognizes the collector’s son. On each work, Jean-Charles Van Baël took the time to make analysis and summary work.In addition to the books, there is an exhaustive inventory of 150 pages” insists the son. “Our goal is really that this collection continues to be read and studied. I think that from where he is our dad must be proud of what his collection is becoming”

In the center of the photo, Jean-Michel Van Baël with the photo of his late father, © Radio France
Patricia Pourrez

For now, all these books are still in the boxes. The Joan of Arc research center will sort them again and put them away. “It’s still a very nice surprise.” reacts Dominique Plancher, head of the history department for the Orléans museums. “This family could have sold everything at auction and preferred to call us so that this collection could be protected“All these books will be included in the computerized inventory of the Orléans media libraries, so they will be accessible to all students or researchers working on Joan of Arc.”We have researchers who come from all over the world. So, it’s always important to enrich our fund.” The entire Van Baël collection was estimated at 25,000 euros.

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