Schuh’s Annotated Bio-Bibliography

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METZGER, Hélène.

(1889 – 1944)

(Born: Chatou, near Paris, France, 1889; Died: In transit to Auschwitz, Poland, 1944) French science historian.

Metzger [maiden name Bruhl] showed outstanding early promise and studied mineralogy at the Sorbonne, receiving her Diploma d'études supérieures in physics for her Etude cristallographique du chlorate de lithium.In 1913 she married Paul Metzger, a professor of history and geography, but in September 1914 he was reported missing in one of the first battles of World War I; from then on she devoted herself to research. Her doctoral thesis showed the evolution of crystallography (La genèse de la science des cristaux) and she then applied her historical methods to the whole of chemistry. In 1925 she won the Prix Bordin in philosophy for Les concepts scientifiques and she continued to seek out the philosophical bases of science in later work. This was interrupted by the German occupation of Paris and she moved to Lyons and worked at the Bureau d'Etudes Israëlites on a study of Jewish monotheism. She was arrested in February 1944, deported to Drancy, then sent to Auschwitz.

Biographical references: DSB: 9, 340-2. ISIS, 1913-65: 2, 177.

1. French, 1918.
La Genèse | De La | Science Des Cristaux | Par | Hélène Metzger | [rule] | Paris | Félix Alcan, Éditeur | 108, Boulevard Saint-Germain, 108 | [short rule] | 1918.

8°: π8 2-158 164; 124l.; [1]-248 p., name index. Page size: 230 x 148 mm.

Contents: [1-2], Half title page, verso blank.; [3-4], Title page, verso Blank.; [5]-13, "... Introduction."; [14]-92, "Section I | La cristallographie se dégage peu à peu | de la minéralogie."; [93]-123, "Section II | La cristallographie se détache peu à peu | de l'étude des êtres vivants."; [124]-206, "Section III | La cristallographie se détache peu à peu | des sciences physiques."; [207]-234, "Conclusion."; [235]-242, "Liste Des Auteurs Et Des Ouvrages | Cités Ou Mentionnés Dans Ce Travail."; [243]-248, "Table Des Matières."

Very rare. One of the outstanding histories of crystallography and due to the rapidly deteriorating and poor quality of paper it was printed on, the original edition may soon become extinct. This was a pioneer effort both in its subject and its approach. Essentially, it is a history of 18th century ideas, primarily French, on the nature, development and structure of crystals. The book is structured around the theme of the emergence of crystallography as a discrete and independent science in the work of Romé de l'Isle and, more particularly, Haüy. Metzger sees a fundamental development in the works of these researchers from an emphasis on explaining crystal formation in terms of grand speculative systems, to a concern with the precise description of crystal structure. Metzger's approach is novel as well and demonstrates the historical sensitivity which marked her later studies in the history of chemistry.

Facsimlie reprint, 1969: La Genèse | De La | Science Des Cristaux | Par | Hélène Metzger | Nouveau tirage | Librairie Scientifique Et Technique | Albert Blanchard | 9, Rue De Médicis, Paris | 1969. 8°: [3]-248 p., name index. Modern reproduction of the rare original work with a new title page.

Bibliographical references: Ambix: 19 (1969), 60-1 [by S.H. Mauskopf; reviews the reprint]. BL [07105.ff.13.].