The bookseller's description
of the collection, written in French and replete with representative extracts
from documents and correspondence, forms the core of the guide. This description
treats the material as falling into three broad series:
- general manuscripts
and documents dating from the whole of La Forte's career;
from 1786 to 1793;
- and correspondence
from An II (1793/1794) to An V (1796/1797).
The two correspondence
series are further divided into groups, usually according to the type
of correspondent (eg, correspondence from instructors, from the Comité
de Salut Public, etc.), and less frequently according to the particular
issue or project they address (eg, the construction of a powder mill).
Because the breakdown
of the material in the bookseller's description does not correspond to
the actual physical arrangement of the collection, box and portfolio numbers
that connect descriptions with locations have been written in next to
the appropriate text in the guide. A list of material that was not included
in the original description has been added at the end, along with locations.
To further facilitate
use of the La Forte Collection, its contents have also been listed as
they are arranged, with page numbers referring the reader to the entries
in the bookseller's description. It should be noted that this listing
gives specific information about the material omitted from the bookseller's
description, namely, the contents of Box 1, Portfolio 6; Boxes 2a and
2b; Box 3d; Box 6, Portfolio 2; and Box 9a.