Geology beyond the Channel:: the beginnings of geohistory in early nineteenth-century France
Philippe Taquet, 2009. "Geology beyond the Channel:: the beginnings of geohistory in early nineteenth-century France", The Making of the Geological Society of London, C. L. E. Lewis, S. J. Knell
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As Martin Rudwick has emphatically underlined, the beginning of the nineteenth century was marked in France by an intense intellectual awakening that allowed, in the scope of Earth Sciences, new applications of research. Indeed, the joint study of rocks and their associated fossils was made in France in its earliest years by pioneers, afterwards amplified by the endowed work of Georges Cuvier and Alexandre Brongniart on the ‘Géographie minéralogique des environs de Paris’. But the integration of the study of fossils into a new geognostic practice was made possible by the combination of a number of favourable circumstances: the presence in France of such new institutions as the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle and the Ecole des Mines where ambitious and rigorous scientific programmes, backed by a determined political power, were brought together. In these institutions young talented naturalists within premises entirely devoted to research and teaching, coupled with the presence of very diverse collections of natural history, the recruitment of competent staff and significant financial support, led to spectacular results. These studies did, of course, contribute to the rise of geology in France, but they also brought celebrity to their authors, increased the prestige of the institutions and of the authorities in place.
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The Making of the Geological Society of London
Founded in 1807, the Geological Society of London became the world’s first learned society devoted to the Earth sciences. In celebration of the Society’s 200-year history, this book commemorates the lives of the Society’s 13 founders and sets geology in its national and European context at the turn of the nineteenth century. In Britain, geology was emerging as a subject in its own right from three closely related disciplines — chemistry, mineralogy and medicine — disciplines that reflect the principal professions and interests of the founders. The tremendous energy and cooperation of these 13 men, about whom little was previously known, quickly mobilized like-minded men around the country and fuelled the nation’s passion for geology; an enthusiasm that soon spread to America and Australia. Two previously unpublished works from this period, essential to understanding the founding of the Society, are reproduced here for the first time. The book closes with a review of the Society’s 2007 Bicentenary celebrations.