The collection consists mostly of material related to the recovery of the body of John Paul Jones in 1905. Weiss oversaw the excavations at the former cemetery for foreign Protestants in Paris where research indicated the remains of John Paul Jones were interred. Included in the collection are calling cards with brief notes to Weiss from General Horace Porter, American Ambassador to France. It was Porter who, in 1899, began the quest to find Jones' body and bring it back to the United States.
Items of interest include a plan of the site of the Saint Louis cemetery; three photographs of the body taken on April 11, 1905, two days after the autopsy; two invitations to the memorial service in Paris; the published proceedings of the Commission du Vieux Paris regarding the discovery and identification of the remains; and a program from the commemoration exercises for Jones held at the Naval Academy on April 24, 1906.
The collection also contains a set of photo post cards of the ceremonies in Paris to mark the transfer of the body of John Paul Jones to the United States. There is an American and a European edition of the Century Magazine from October 1905, containing General Porter's article entitled "The Recovery of the Body of John Paul Jones." A set of thirteen photographs, some of which accompanied General Porter's article, record the excavation site and the activities there. From a French publication is an offprint of an article on the Protestant cemetery and the discovery of the remains of John Paul Jones. There is also a copy of John Paul Jones Commemoration at Annapolis April 24, 1906 (Washington: GPO, 1907); A calling card belonging to General Porter calling card is pinned to the front free endpaper of this volume.
Paul Louis Weiss, a Commander of the Legion of Honor, was born in Strasbourg, France on February 5, 1867. He graduated from the École Polytechnique and the École des Mines de Paris (School of Mining). He was a member of the Corps of Mines. In 1905, as the Engineer of Mines, Inspector of Quarries for the Department of the Seine, he played an instrumental role in the recovery of the remains of John Paul Jones. He was the Inspector General of Mines for France from 1911 to 1916.
After World War I, Weiss left the ministry to become director of the Compagnie Industrielle des Travaux et Entreprises Électriques. He was the consulting engineer to the Compagnie des Mines de Vicoigne, Noeux et Drocourt from 1919 to 1930 and then president of the Compagnie Française des Essences Synthétiques, which built a factory to convert coal into gasoline. He died in Paris on December 25, 1945.