School of Information
(Previously School of Library & Information Studies)
Suzanne Briet, 1894-1989: "Madame Documentation"
Renée-Marie-Helene-Suzanne Briet, born in Paris on February 1, 1894,
was a librarian, an historian, and a significant pioneer of Documentation.
She was also known S. Dupuy and S. Dupuy-Briet.
Briet was a secondary school teacher of English and History in
Annaba, Algeria, 1917 to 1920, then became a librarian.
She was one of the first three women appointed as professional
librarians in the Bibliothèque
Nationale where she established,
and supervised, 1934 - 1954, the Salle des Catalogues
et Bibliographies. She made available bibliographies which had
previously been kept in closed stacks, organized supplementary
indexing, and developed a bibliographic advisory service.
From the late 1920s onwards Briet was active nationally and
internationally in the development of Documentation.
She participated in the founding, in 1931, and in the subsequent
leadership of the Union Française des Organismes de Documentation
(UFOD). In 1951 she became the founding Director of
Studies of the Institut National de Techniques de la
Documentation and, later, Vice President of
Federation Internationale de Documentation (FID).
In 1951 Briet published a remarkable modernist manifesto on
the nature of Documentation: Qu'est-ce que la documentation?
(French original as original is at
and a facsimile of the original edition is available at http://martinetl.free.fr/suzannebriet/questcequeladocumentation/briet.pdf.
and the 2006 book edition noted above for an English translation, and commentary.
Briet argued that the scope of Documentation extended beyond
text to evidence and she defined "document" as any
material form of evidence.
Briet visited the USA in 1951-52, examining bibliographic
services, reference service, and professional education.
Briet was a feminist, established a women's club, and was
President of the Union des femmes européennes.
In 1954, at age 60, Briet took early retirement and wrote about
the Ardennes region, including Arthur Rimbaud, Rimbaud's mother,
and Jean, Comte de Montdejeux. Her memoires appeared in 1976.
She died in Paris in 1989, aged 95.
(English version of French entry Briet Suzanne (1894-1989)
by Michael Buckland for the
Dictionnaire encyclopédique de l'information et de la
(Collection réf). Paris: Editions Nathan, 1997, pp. 105-106.
Suzanne Renée Briet 1894-1989: Checklist of Writings.
Briet, Suzanne. Qu'est-ce que la documentation? Paris, EDIT, 1951.
(See above for internet accessible versions).
What is Documentation? English Translation of the
Classic French Text. Transl and ed. By R. E. Day & L. Martinet.
Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Pr., 2006. ISBN 0-8108-5109-1. Includes
Preface, brief biography, annotated translation, commentary on Documentation
as "Cultural technique", and a selective
list of Briet's writings.
Briet, Suzanne. Entre Aisne et Meuse...et au delà.
(Les cahiers ardennais
22.) Charleville-Mezières: Société des écrivains ardennais.
M. Buckland. Reflections on Suzanne Briet. ISKO-France
2017, Paris. ppt.
Buckland, Michael. The centenary of "Madame Documentation":
Suzanne Briet, 1894-1989. Journal of the American Society for
Information Science, 46, no. 3 (April 1995): 235-237. pdf.
--- [French version] -- Le centenaire de "Madame Documentation":
Suzanne Briet, 1894-1989. Documentaliste: Sciences de
l'information, 32, no. 3, 179-181, 1995.
Biography of Suzanne Renée Briet. In:
Suzanne Briet. What is Documentation? Transl. & ed. by R. E. Day
& L. Martinet. (Scarecrow Press, forthcoming 2005.)
Sylvie Fayet-Scribe. Histoire de la documentation en France: Culture,
science et technologie de
l'information 1895-1937. Paris: CNRS Editions, 2000. ISBN 2-271-05790-6.
Open Edition Books, 2016: Open Edition Books,
Lemaître, Renée & Roux-Fouillet, Paul. Suzanne Briet (1894-1989).
Bulletin d'Informations de l'Association des bibliothècaires
français, 144, 55-56, 1989.
Mary Niles Maack.
and the Antelope: Suzanne Briet's Contribution to the French Documentation
Movement. Preprint Library Trends 53 (Spring 2004).
Ronald E. Day
Suzanne Briet: An
Appreciation. Bulletin of ASIST 33, no 2 (Dec/Jan 2007):21-22.
Sylvie Fayet-Scribe. La table des matières (Ed. du Panama, 2007).
Fictionalized history of information science, incl. S. Briet.
Connaissez-vous Suzanne Briet? Méconnue en France, célébrée aux Etats Unis.
With Michael Buckland. L'accueil de Suzanne Briet aux Etats-Unis.
Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France 57, no 1 (2012): 40-44.
M. Buckland. The Reception of Suzanne Briet in the United States.
Bulletin of ASIS&T
pages 40-41. French summary
in BBF 2012, p 41.
Frohmann, Bernd. 2012. The documentality of Mme Briet’s antelope. 173-182
in: Communication matters: materialist approaches to media, mobility,
and networks. Ed. by Jeremey Packer and Stephen B. Crofts Wiley.
or to Michael Buckland's