Jean-Héliodore Vignaud was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 27, 1830, the eldest of six children of Jean Lucien Vignaud and Clémence Godefroi. Jean- Héliodore later changed his name to Henry Vignaud. Vignaud taught school in New Orleans before founding two weekly journals, L'Union de la Fourche and La Renaissance Louisiannaise. During the Civil War, he served as captain of the Confederate Army's 6th Louisiana Regiment until his capture during the fall of New Orleans in 1862. Vignaud fled to France after his imprisonment and remained there for the rest of his life.
In 1863, Vignaud became secretary of the Confederate Diplomatic Commission to Paris, and, after the war, Chancellor of the Romanian Diplomatic Agency. From 1875 to 1909, he served as secretary to the American legation in Paris. Vignaud developed an interest in early American history and frequently corresponded with the self-styled "Americanistes" Pierre Margry and Henry Harrisse. He became president of the Société des Americanistes de Paris (1908), and he published many works on American history. He married Louise Compte in 1879 and lived in the Parisian suburb of Bagneux. Henry Vignaud died in 1922.
Pierre Margry was born in Paris in 1818 the son of a painter. Margry finished his studies at College Charlemagne in 1838. Against the advice of his father, Margry decided to embark on a literary career. He accepted a position in the government while also writing articles for newspapers and teaching Latin, French, and English. Margry was hired by General Cass, the American Ambassador to France, for three years and later at the advice of Cass, Margry was hired by M. Brodhead, who was looking for documents relating to the colonial history of the state of New York. This position launched Margry's research and publishing career and developing his interest in North American colonial history. Margry published several works on the subject throughout his career. He served as archivist to the Ministry of the Navy and Colonies Pierre Margry died on March 27, 1894.
Henry Harrisse was born in Paris in 1829, but emigrated to the United States at a young age to live with his family. He practiced law in Chicago before returning to Paris, where he met Henry Vignaud, Pierre Margry, and other "Americanistes." He published works on American history and Egyptology. Henry Harrisse died in 1910.