1940 June 17-1944 Sept. 21
Manuscript Collection: Ms 026
106 leaves ;
Agency History/Biographical note:
Professor and critic of English and American literature. First woman
in France to hold a chair of literature at a French university.
Received honorary D.Litt. from Mount Holyoke College in 1937.
Scope and Content:
Transcription of a diary kept from 1940 to 1944 by an educated,
middle-class woman living in Lyon and Oussiat, France. The journal
begins with Mar‚chal P‚tain's declaration of the "armistice" with
Germany and ends with the liberation of Lyon by the Allies. Most of
Villard's entries concern the everyday life of herself, her brother
and her friends. The entries are a mixture of factual statements,
such as the current cost of butter; opinions, such as the thrill of
hearing DeGaulle speak over the B.B.C.; and reports of rumors.
Although her life is centered on Lyon and her summer "bungalow" in
the more rural Oussiat, there are frequent mentions of War news from
outside France, particularly from North Africa and the rest of
Europe. Many of the entries for 1942 and 1943 concern food-- its
escalating cost, its unavailability (especially the lack of meat,
sugar & salt), and the effects of malnutrition. Rationing food is
described as one of the tactics employed by the Germans to keep the
French subdued; the other principal tactics mentioned being
propaganda and killing or imprisonment. Other topics repeatly
mentioned are fuel shortages, forced conscription, the Resistance,
the black market, and the political situation under the Vichy
government. Occasional mention is made of the persecution of French
Jews, with an increasing number of references in 1944. Her journal
shows an awareness of how the reactions of the Germans in Lyon
reflected the changing fortunes of Germany as the War progressed.
Villard's descriptions of everyday life include celebrating
Christmas, visiting friends, meeting students, going to the doctor,
shopping and household chores.
Cite as: L‚onie Villard Journal, Archives & Special
Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley,
Access Restrictions: Unrestricted.