Keeping it in the family: the extraordinary case of Cuvier’s daughters
Published:January 01, 2007
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.
Figures & Tables
The Role of Women in the History of Geology
Where were the women in Geology? This book is a first as it unravels the diverse roles women have played in the history and development of geology as a science predominantly in the UK, Ireland and Australia, and selectively in Germany, Russia and US. The volume covers the period from the late eighteenth century to the present day and shows how the roles that women have played changed with time. These included illustrators, museum collectors and curators, educationalists, researchers and geologists. Originally as wives, sisters or mothers many were assistants to their male relatives. This book looks at all these forgotten women and for the first time historians and scientists together explore the contribution they made to this male-dominated subject. There are individual profiles on remarkable women: Catherine Raisin, Dorothea Bate, Cuvier's daughters, Grace Prestwich, Annie Greenly, Nancy Kirk, Margaret Crosfield, Ethel Skeat, Maria Ogivlie Gordon, Marie Stopes, Anne Phillips, Muriel Arber and Etheldred Bennett. Pulling together this extensive research uncovered common issues and generated emergent themes. The Editors have brought this new research together under these themes and tried to answer the question Where were the women in Geology? They go on to discuss how these role models can be applicable to today's society.