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Abstract

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.

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