Papers of Ferdinand-André Fouqué (1828-1904)

Scope and Content

The Fouqué papers consist of letters or cards to Sir Archibald Geikie ranging from simply invitations, notes of thanks, and notes about impending trips, to requests for specimens and scientific opinions, queries about various geological matters, his work on the Pyrenees, the nomination of Michel-Lévy to the Institute (possibly the Institut de France), and a discussion about Geikie's Ancient volcanoes of Great Britain.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ferdinand-André Fouqué was born on 21 June 1828 in Mortain, Manche, France. He was educated in Mortain and in Caen, but then found it difficult to settle upon a career. He studied at Saint-Cyr in 1847, at the Ecole d'Administration in 1848, and at the Ecole Normal Superieure in 1849. At the latter he became a Laboratory Assistant and worked with Sainte-Claire Deville on the action of heat on topaz. Fouqué worked for a brief period in the chemical industry before commencing medical studies, and in 1858 he completed a doctoral thesis entitled Mode particulier d'emploi du thermomèter en medécine. In 1859 he became Deputy Professor of Physics and Chemistry at the Lycée Condorcet in Paris. For a short period too he travelled in England, spending time looking at chemical works in Birmingham. His real interest was volcanoes however, and in particular the formation of craters and lava flows. In 1862, Fouqué was studying fumaroles on Vesuvius with Sainte-Claire Deville and the same year he dug at Santorin (Santorini) in the Cyclades. There he found fresco-covered walls of houses and painted pottery beneath 26 feet (8 metres) of pumice which had been the result of a great eruption that had divided the original island. Geologists of the day dated the eruption to 2000 BC, which suggested a great antiquity for the finds and the existence of prehistoric cultures in the Aegean, at that time unknown. Fouqué also worked with the mineralogist and petrologist Auguste Michel-Lévy (1844-1911) studying and experimenting widely in the synthesis of igneous rocks. Together they published the two volumes of Micrographic mineralogy: French igneous rocks (1879), and Synthesis of minerals and rocks (1888). Fouqué returned to Santorin from time to time and he also studied the eruption of Etna in 1865 and an eruption on Terceira in the Azores in 1868. On his return to France, he became caught up in the convulsions of the Paris Commune. In 1877, Fouqué was nominated as Professor of Natural History at the Collège de France, and in 1880 he was a member of the Commission tasked with drawing up a detailed geological survey of France. In 1881 he became a member of the French Academy of Sciences, and in 1901 he was its President. Fouqué died in Paris on 7 March 1904.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Acquired August 1968, Accession no. E68.24.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Grand Larousse encyclopedique. En dix volumes. Vol. 5. Paris: Libraire Larousse, 1962. (2) Dictionnaire de biographie française. Vol. 14. Flessard-Gachon. Paris: Libraire Letouzey, 1979. (3) Entry for 'Michel-Lévy, Auguste' in The new encyclopaedia Britannica. Micropaedia. Ready Reference. 15th edition. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1991. (4) Gillispie, Charles Coulston (ed.). Dictionary of scientific biography. Vol. 5. Emil Fischer-Gottlieb Haberlandt., pp.88-89. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1972.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes show a reference to related material (check the Indexes for more details), namely: a letter from Sir Charles Lyell.