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The Research School of Chemistry of Adolphe Wurtz, Paris, 1853-1884

Carneiro, Ana (1992) The Research School of Chemistry of Adolphe Wurtz, Paris, 1853-1884. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86117) (KAR id:86117)


Adolphe Wurtz (1817-1884) established a research school of chemistry in the Faculty of Medicine in Paris, which developed throughout the second half of the 19th century, acquiring an international reputation. Owing to particular circumstances, which relate both to his Alsation background and his internationalist ethos, Wurtz's school exhibited certain peculiarities which were in contrast with the current practice of the French scientific establishment and, in particular, with that of other leaders of research schools in Paris. In order to study this research group, a framework of analysis has been constructed, taking into account the origin of the school as a means of organising scientific research, and trying to understand its full meaning in the French context of the time. Thus, a brief account of the research schools of chemistry in Paris contemporary with that of Wurtz is given: the schools of Cahours, Sainte-Claire Deville, Pasteur and Berthelot.

A detailed account of Wurtz's school of chemistry is then given, focussing on three major aspects: 1) Wurtz's personal, cultural and educational background, his ideology as well as his career both as a chemistry and as a member of Parisian scientific establishment; 2) his students in particular, their identification and national origins, their cultural and educational backgrounds, their interests, their involvement in Wurtz's school, the research areas and the publishing and institutional activities in which they took part, their publications and their careers; 3) finally, an analysis of the full meaning of the school: the research laboratory, its peculiar administration and routine; a comprehensive analysis of the foundations and development of both the theoretical and empirical aspects of Wurtz's research programme, especially in organic and biological chemistry, as well as the contributions of his students to the programme: an account of the activities in a wider context, focussing on scientific and educational institutions and publications, which were either launched, controlled or supported by Wurtz's school.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86117
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: History; France; science
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
L Education > LA History of education
Q Science > QD Chemistry
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:29 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 12:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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