The University of Michigan acquired the Vignaud Collection in 1922. It contains more than 1200 books, atlases, maps and pamphlets dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The collection was divided between the University Library and the William L. Clements Library, with most titles held in the librarys' map collections.
Henry Vignaud (1830-1922) was from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was briefly a captain in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. After Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862, he escaped and made his way to Paris, France where he lived out the rest of his life. He served as a Confederate diplomat and was a translator and writer.
He was also a noted scholar of the Columbian encounter and an avid collector of rare and intriguing materials about American history. Most importantly, Vignaud collected most of the important atlases containing maps of the Americas, and also many works on Europe and France.
Shortly after his death, his widow put his collection up for auction. The University of Michigan sent the head of the General Library, William Warner Bishop, to Paris to purchase the collection. The Vignaud Collection then came to form the core of the rare and special maps held by the University.