Keeping it in the family: the extraordinary case of Cuvier's daughters

Orr, Mary, Geological Society of London (2007) Keeping it in the family: the extraordinary case of Cuvier's daughters. In, Burek, C.V. and Higgs, B. (eds.) The Role of Women in the History of Geology. London, UK, Geological Society of London, 277-286. (GSL Special Publications 281). (doi:10.1144/SP281.17).


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In the history of French geology, Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) is largely figured as the antagonist to Etienne Geoffroy St. Hilaire, and as the arch-conservative who blocked the path of more ‘Darwinian’ ideas about the evolution of species. If historians mention him as a key player in Catholic French secondary education reform despite being a Protestant, it is his extraordinarily enlightened encouragement and employment of his daughter, and perhaps even more importantly his step-daughter, in his collaborative projects which this paper investigates. Trained up in the latest scientific ideas of the epoch (because Cuvier lived with his family at the Jardin des Plantes), and as his ‘research assistants’, theirs is a story within women’s history of science that has never been told. While to label them ‘women scientists’ or ‘geologists’ is a misnomer for the period in France, the direct contributions of these daughters to cross-channel, geological endeavour of the period can at last have a place in the history of geology.

Item Type: Book Section
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1144/SP281.17
ISBNs: 1862392277 (hardback)
9781862392274 (hardback)
Related URLs:
Keywords: clémentine cuvier, sophie duvaucel, stendhal, georges cuvier, histoire naturelle des poissons, aide naturaliste, jardin des plantes
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Q Science > QE Geology
D History General and Old World > DC France
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Modern Languages
ePrint ID: 63768
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
15 September 2007Published
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:48

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