Skip to main content

Family estate papers of the Marquis de Sade

Call Number: MS 16


The Gaufridy Collection includes 1,880 manuscript letters and documents received by the Marquis de Sade's estate manager, Gaspard Gaufridy, and other materials from the Marquis, his wife, and other correspondents during the last quarter of the 18th century. The correspondence primarily concerns the management of the de Sade family estates. Also present are draft transcriptions in modernized French prepared in the mid-1960s by University of Kansas faculty and their students.


  • Creation: 1767 - 1802


Language of Materials

French; Italian

Conditions Governing Access

Please contact reference staff if you wish to view the original transcripts or catalog cards, as they are not arranged in any systematic order or the same order as the original documents. Reference staff are available at or (785) 864-4334.

Biography of the Marquis de Sade

Donatien Alphonse Francois, the Marquis de Sade, was born June 2, 1740 in Paris, France, the son of Jean Baptiste Francois Joseph, Count de Sade, and Marie Eleanore de Maille de Carman, a lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Conde. He was educated by his uncle, the Abbe de Sade, and raised by servants after his father abandoned the family and his mother joined a convent.

Sade's education continued at the Lycee Louis-le-Grand and at a military academy. Eventually reaching the rank of colonel in a Dragoon regiment, he fought in the Seven Years' War.

The marquis was known for mistreating prostitutes, torturing and abusing children and adults, and blasphemy. He was exiled, imprisoned and sent to an insane aslyum, and frequently hid from authorities. He was transferred from the Bastille to an insane asylum 10 days before the Bastille was stormed in 1789.

Sade published numerous works, including Voyage d'Italie, and held political office during the French Revolution, writing political pamphlets calling for the direct vote. He was imprisoned again during the Reign of Terror for criticizing Maximilien Robespierre, released in 1794, and imprisoned again under Napoleon Bonaparte's orders in 1801 for writing Justine and Juliette. Sade's family had him declared insane in 1803, and he remained at the Charenton Asylum until his death in 1814.


16.75 Linear Feet (33 document cases + 5 card boxes)

Scope and Contents

While the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) was in prison, in an asylum, or in exile during more than three decades, the notary Gaspard Francois Xavier Gaufridy (fl. 1774-1800) was responsible for taking care of his finances and his family estates. This collection contains correspondence received by Gaufridy and others, together with related estate documents and accounts.

The correspondence includes 205 letters received by Gaufridy from the Marquis de Sade, 408 letters from the Marquise de Sade to Gaufridy and others, 1,228 letters (with relevant documents and accounts) from other correspondents to Gaufridy and others, and 47 additional documents and accounts without a personal author.

The correspondence, which contains letters from a large number of relatives, friends, lawyers, and others, provides a detailed view of the interconnections among members of the circle. For long periods the history is practically day-by-day. Some of the letters from the Marquis were written from exile, such as his stay in Italy. He inquires after his literary works, including the Paris reception of his play, Oxtiern, and his manuscripts. Some letters mention the scandalous activities of the Marquis. However, most of the correspondence concerns the management of the complicated de Sade estate holdings. It paints a vivid picture of this aspect of French life before, during, and after the Revolution.

Some of the letters (174) had been published in entire or in part by Paul Bourdin in his book, Correspondence inédite du Marquis de Sade (Paris: Libraire de France, 1929) and a few (3) had been published in entire or in part by Gilbert Lely in his book, Vie du Marquis de Sade (Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvet, 1965) before the collection was purchased by the University of Kansas Libraries from the Paris book seller, Jean Hugues, prior to 1964.

Accompanying the correspondence are manuscript and typescript notes and transcripts compiled by various University of Kansas faculty and students who worked on the collection but did not publish their findings. A card index with French summaries of the contents of the items was prepared by Ambrose Saricks, a faculty member in the Department of History from 1950-1983, and his students. Transcriptions prepared by students under the direction of Dorothy Ramona Thelander, a faculty member in the Department of Romance Languages from 1963-1966, are in modernized French. The earlier card index and original transcripts (now fragile) reflect the unsystematic order in which the collection was received and are no longer useful, since they do not relate to the present order.

In 1979, the collection was re-organized into series, first by writer and then by date, by Michel Richer, then a graduate student at the University of Kansas. In order to facilitate consulting the transcripts with the originals, a set of photocopies of the transcripts has been reorganized to match the present series arrangement.

The collection is now arranged in four series: Series A contains the original documents, series B contains photocopies of the original transcripts arranged in the present order of the original correspondence, series C contains the original transcripts of the documents. Series D contains index cards, prepared by Ambrose Saricks and his students. Series C and D are not in a systematic order and are no longer useful.

The transcription codes and catalog card numbers contain four groupings of numbers and begin with 16/, for the call number of the Gaufridy Collection MS 16. The second number is the box number and ranges from 1 through 5. The third number is the folder number and the fourth number, in parenthesis, is the item number in the order in which the collection was originally accessioned. For example: 16/2/5(30) expresses the particular item's original location at MS 16 in box 2, folder 5, item number 30.

Physical Location

MS 16

Other Finding Aids

Detailed inventories of some series in the collection are available in pdf form. These include

MS 16:A1 is available at

MS 16:A2 is available at

MS 16:A3 is available at An additional index by correspondent is available at

MS 16:A4 is available at

MS 16:C1 is available at, providing a listing of each transcript grouping and both current and former box and folder numbers. For items without a corresponding transcript, see; for more information on accounts with related receipts, see

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Jean Hugues, prior to 1964


Bourdin, Paul. Correspondence inédite du Marquis de Sade de ses proches et de ses familiers. Paris, France: Compiegne, 1929.
Lely, Gilbert. Vie du Marquis de Sade. Paris, France: Jean-Jacques Pauvet, 1965.
Guide to the Gaufridy Collection
Family estate papers of the Marquis de Sade
Finding aid prepared by el, 2013. Finding aid encoded by el, 2013.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Family estate papers of the Marquis de Sade, Department of Special Collections, MS 16, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States