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Using the example of Joseph Jérôme Lalande (1730–1807) and his collaborators Nicole-Reine Lepaute (1723–1788) and Marie-Jeanne-Amélie LeFrançois (1760–1832), this article reconstructs the work done by women astronomers and examines how Lalande described them in his correspondence and publications. Lalande stressed their emotional sensitivity and deep connections to their family, but made clear that women’s emotions fueled rather than conflicted with their scientific research. In so doing, he implicitly argued against assumptions that women’s domestic ties made them ill-suited for serious research. Yet even as this rhetoric supported learned women, it also placed significant constraints upon them: they were not imagined as autonomous figures. Furthermore, Lalande’s writings show that the bar was set high for “femmes savantes” (learned women). They could pursue advanced scientific research, and be publicly credited for their work, but only if they maintained a grueling double schedule of scientific and domestic work.

In Enlightenment France, the figure of the learned woman raised serious questions. How involved should women be in philosophy and science? What talents might they possess? How much credit should male savants give to their female collaborators? These were questions without easy answers, and they prompted a range of responses. Some men asserted that women were, by their very nature, unqualified for intellectual work. Others were happy to work with women, but they were not interested in sharing credit. Still, others insisted that men should collaborate with and credit women. Finally, a small group insisted that brilliant women—just like brilliant men—should stand as fully realized and autonomous figures.

The problem of representation further complicated this issue. Even if women acquired the training necessary for serious mathematical, philosophical, or scientific work, and managed to find male collaborators willing to name them, femmes savantes (learned women) worried about their public reputations. Ambition was considered a dangerous quality for women, leading many to downplay or hide their work.1 A women who appeared eager to collaborate with or critique learned men courted ridicule, sexual slander, and mockery.

The celebrated astronomer Joseph Jérôme de Lalande (1732–1807) grappled with these questions, and his example deepens our understanding of femininity, science, and respectability. Lalande developed a network [End Page 14] of female collaborators, including Nicole-Reine Lepaute (1723–1788) and Marie-Jeanne-Amélie Lefrançois (1760–1832). Lalande was appalled by assertions that women were incapable of scientific excellence and disgusted by savants who worked with women but failed to credit them. In his own publications, especially his Astronomie des Dames (1785) and Bibliographie Astronomique (1803), he drew attention to women astronomers and insisted that women could and should pursue serious scientific study.2 In this, he stood apart from many of his male contemporaries.

Lalande’s rhetorical strategies reveal the benefits and limitations of his vision for women in astronomy. Keen to protect his associates from ridicule, he stressed that his female collaborators achieved both domestic and scientific excellence, with perfect harmony between the two. They were paragons of love and brilliance. By directly countering fears that learned women were unfeminine or selfish, Lalande insisted that his readers view female astronomers as respectable women whose lives were compatible with ideals of virtuous femininity and social utility. Respectability came at a cost, however; it constrained Lalande from imagining women as independent agents. They were, always and forever, part of—but not in charge of—patriarchal households and observatories. Thus even a man like Lalande, who thought deeply about advancing women’s education and opportunities, struggled to picture women as autonomous savants. His representations of women astronomers add a new layer to our understanding of the opportunities available to and constraints placed upon femmes savantes at the end of the Enlightenment.

Lalande’s case is particularly instructive in light of the historical scholarship on women’s scientific work in eighteenth-century Europe. Especially in fields like astronomy, which demanded collaboration, women often worked alongside their husbands and brothers.3 Much of this scholarship shows that family, and particularly domestic norms, limited women’s participation in science. Hidden from the outside world, hindered from developing professional autonomy, women were often “invisible assistants.”4 This scholarship rightly points out the restrictions that family life posed for women: their work was controlled and frequently hidden by their husbands and brothers. Pedagogical texts and conduct manuals were also part of this trend as they generally urged women to nurture their families rather than unlock the secrets of nature.

This vision—of family love pulling women away from rigorous study and of families concealing women’s scientific work from public view—was not necessarily monolithic. Jérôme Lalande provides a key example of a prominent savant who encouraged women to study science, collaborated extensively with women, and recognized their work in print and private correspondence. He had no interest in hiding women’s work; he did not [End Page 15] imagine his female associates to be invisible assistants. He instead went to considerable lengths to recognize and praise their work, stressing that women’s scientific merit coexisted peacefully with their love for their families. He did not assume that a woman had to give up serious study in order to be a good wife and mother. Although scholars sometimes dismiss Lalande as an exceptional case, his writings about women astronomers are worth further consideration. He might well be at one end of the spectrum in terms of recognizing and celebrating the work of women, but studying his texts will help scholars map the whole continuum of possibility.5

In focusing on a single figure, I also build upon a different body of scholarship: the numerous biographical studies in the cultural history of science. These works reveal how savants chose to represent themselves, tell stories about their work, and establish trust with their readers.6 Within the context of European history, it has always been harder for learned women to earn respect for their work from their peers. Recent biographies, however, have shown that femmes savantes portrayed themselves in ways that enabled their work and allowed them to surpass their contemporaries’ expectations.7

This article focuses on the related issue of how men represented learned women. Men controlled access to academies and dominated the world of scientific publishing, yet we know little about how men—at least some of whom wanted to ensure their female associates received a warm welcome into scientific circles—crafted their representations of learned women. The example of Jérôme Lalande provides an opportunity for a sustained analysis of the constraint and opportunity that women scientists faced at the end of the Enlightenment.

Learned Women in Enlightenment Europe

What was the context for Lalande’s texts? The late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries witnessed an extraordinary cohort of women in science. Intrigued by the fashionable new sciences, learned in foreign languages, and emboldened by assertions that the mind had no sex, an impressive number of women claimed a place in the Republic of Letters.8 They translated texts, providing extensive commentary and sharing their own ideas.9 These women joined correspondence networks, which were crucial for the communication of new ideas and knowledge. Celebrated women like Emilie Du Châtelet (1706–1749) and Laura Bassi (1711–1778) assumed public positions as women of science: Du Châtelet through publications and her extensive networks of correspondents, Bassi through her lectureship at the University of Bologna.10 Yet Du Châtelet and Bassi pushed the boundaries of what respectable women were supposed to do, and they [End Page 16] sometimes felt a backlash. Du Châtelet was accused of stealing ideas from men, lampooned for her frivolity, and ignored as an outsider unable to gain access to the Paris Academy of Sciences.11 Bassi lived under intense scrutiny, with responses to her work ranging from adulation to accusations of sexual impropriety.12 Hoping to avoid similar attacks, many women chose to work in full or partial anonymity. Mariangela Adinghelli, for example, worked under a veil of anonymity that she lifted only under certain circumstances, like when she was in contact with Lalande.13

At the same time, a number of women worked in astronomy, generally alongside male relatives. The seventeenth-century astronomers Elisabeth Hevelius and Maria Kirch collaborated with their spouses. Caroline Herschel, a much-admired contemporary of Lalande’s, worked alongside her brother William.14 The late hours and intimate quarters of the observatory made this branch of science a particularly good fit for domestic collaboration. The autonomous careers of Du Châtelet and Bassi were thus not the only option; femmes savantes also had models of women collaborating with kith and kin.

Either way, however, learned women could be met with scorn. A woman interested in astronomy, for example, might have to deal with sneering accusations that there were other, less scientific reasons she might stay up all night.15 Men of letters also tended to dismiss learned women. Despite his admiration for Du Châtelet (his dear friend and onetime mistress), Voltaire crafted Cunégonde as a silly and self-involved female lead in his novel Candide (1759), a girl with some education in philosophy but no real understanding.16 More famously, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile (1762) demanded that women focus their energies on domestic concerns. Woman’s only purpose, he insisted, was to please their husbands and nurture their children.17 The education of women should be geared towards familial and domestic ends. Nor was Rousseau alone in thinking of women as domestic creatures. In his 1772 Encyclopédie article on “Femme (morale),” the philosopher Joseph Desmahis characterized women as inherently emotional beings, the counterbalance to man’s rationality.18 These “natural” inclinations made women well suited to family life, as they would govern their homes with sweetness and self-abnegation. Even more balanced approaches to learned women found women’s education a difficult problem to solve. Boudier de Villemert, for example, criticized those who proscribed women from learning, and yet he recommended that women be moderately educated—just enough to be interesting to their husbands and useful to their households.19 Although Desmahis and Boudier de Villemert recognized the contributions of a few women of science like Du Châtelet, they described these women as exceptions to the general rules guiding women’s conduct.20 [End Page 17]

Enlightenment Europe thus held many contradictions for women eager to pursue scientific studies. More women than ever before seemed to be acquiring scientific educations and were publishing their ideas, but women of science faced considerable risk of ridicule for their intellectual ambitions. They might be dismissed as silly creatures or represented as cold and unfeeling. These novels and encyclopédie articles, moreover, generally defined gender roles as natural and, therefore, immutable.21 Nature—that ultimate guide for Enlightenment writers and readers—seemingly intended women to devote themselves wholly to their families, to be subsumed by love for their husbands and children (or so these male authors claimed). For some writers, like Rousseau, a total devotion to one’s family precluded abstract or rigorous study. If a woman attempted to become learned or to publish her work, she was necessarily distracted from her true purpose as a wife and mother.

Yet the binary of domestic and intellectual work was not nearly as stable as writers like Rousseau imagined. Before and after he wrote Emile, women savants proved adept at using domestic rhetoric to justify their studies and publications. By representing themselves as loving wives and doting mothers, women of science protected themselves from some of the insults lobbed their way. Some men had their doubts about women of science, but women proved resourceful at fashioning themselves in ways that facilitated their entry into academic debates and guarded them from social ignominy.22 Among the most famous was Caroline Herschel, who claimed credit for her discoveries but shielded herself by portraying her work as secondary to her brother’s accomplishments. Herschel’s representations were often unlike those crafted by Lalande. She described herself as her brother’s well-trained puppy (a faithful and helpful companion), while others mocked her for her silly pretensions to learning or dismissed her as an amanuensis. Hers was not the only domestic strategy. Du Châtelet, to give a very different example, reacted to past attacks on her work by cloaking her 1740 publication, Institutions de Physique, in familial rhetoric. To stave off charges of arrogance, she insisted that she wrote Institutions because her maternal duty demanded it.23 Her son required a textbook on natural philosophy, she argued, but no such book existed until she wrote Institutions.

Du Châtelet continued to emphasize her maternity when she learned from a friend that the authors of the Portrait Gallery of Contemporary Authors Famous For Their Learning, Johann Jakob Haid and Johann Jakob Brucker, wished to include her in their volume.24 This text, published in Augsburg between 1741 and 1755, included engraved portraits and biographies of the one hundred individuals. To make sure her portrait in this gallery presented her in the most flattering light, she suggested that they might “add that I [End Page 18] have only two children, that last year I married my daughter to the Duc de Montenero of the house Caraffa, and that I wrote the Institutions phisique for my son’s education; he is fifteen years old and a musketeer.”25 They might also note that she corresponded with a panoply of well-established savants, Du Châtelet posited. Despite the fact that he usually avoided such details, Brucker’s biography did indeed mention Du Châtelet’s network of correspondents and highlighted that she wrote Institutions for her son. Brucker must have shared Du Châtelet’s sense that emphasizing her male contacts in the Republic of Letters and her maternity gave her the best chance of earning a positive reception.

Men also tinkered with the binary that allegedly divided women’s domestic and intellectual roles. A biographer of the natural historian Philippe Gueneau de Montbeillard, for example, effused that Montbeillard had “a wife as commendable through her virtues as she was precious to him through her work. Well-versed in several languages, trained in various areas of inquiry, she spared her husband from much research, of which she never spoke. Her only vanity was her husband’s happiness, and he always wanted her to help him express his thoughts.”26 Madame de Montbeillard appeared here as the ideal partner: she was learned, capable, modest, and loving. Her work spoke to her emotional warmth as well as her intellectual abilities. In L’Homme de Lettres (1764), Jean-Jacques Garnier, likewise, advised men of letters to exercise caution in choosing a spouse; they should only marry if they could find “another Hypatia.”27 Garnier’s choice of Hypatia, a fourth-century astronomer, as an ideal spouse is telling. The historical Hypatia never married, but Garnier imagined her as an ideal companion in his eighteenth-century version—a learned woman who would enable and delight in her husband’s success.28 At least some men found the idea of collaborating with women intriguing, although they did not fathom women acting as solo agents.

That a writer would portray Madame de Montbeillard or Hypatia in affective terms makes sense during the sentimental eighteenth century. A sensitive, warm person with deep connections to family was a person with good morals. Eager to claim this title for themselves and their loved ones, eighteenth-century individuals drew upon exaggerated emotive language when describing their home lives. Individuals displayed their sensitivity with copious tears and dramatic gestures.29 Men of letters often wrote about their connection to collaborators in affective terms, stressing the “bonds of pleasure and sentiment” that united them.30 Within and without familial contexts, therefore, eighteenth-century members of the reading public were keen to emphasize their sensibility and their emotive ties. This, too, explains the use of affective, domestic rhetoric when discussing femmes savantes. [End Page 19]

In the wake of the French Revolution, however, even the narrow path carved by Du Châtelet and company became more difficult to reach. Spooked by revolutionary excess, many writers railed against inter alia, the outspokenness and relative liberty of women as one more symptom of disorder. Political commentators urged women to spend most of their time at home caring for their husbands and children.31 The virtuous mother, not the independent femme savante, was the ideal woman. Encouraging women to pursue the serious study of science, beyond that which might be amusing or instructive for their children, was an unusual move in this climate. Changes to the institutional position of science also discouraged women’s participation. Academic institutions had been disbanded during the Terror and reconstituted under a new umbrella institution, the Institut de France, in 1795. Numerous savants, including Antoine Lavoisier and the Marquis de Condorcet, also perished during the Revolution. Anxious to regain their status, many savants described their methods and knowledge as objective and pure, free of any hint of social disruption or political involvement.32 They were therefore unlikely to risk their tenuous position by championing femmes savantes. Lalande, however, maintained an Old Regime state of mind: virtuous women could, even should, work in astronomy. His thinking on the subject remained remarkably consistent, even in a time of revolutionary upheaval.

Lalande, Lepaute, and Lefrançois

By the time he wrote the texts considered in this article, Jérôme Lalande was a well-regarded astronomer and a longtime fixture in the European Republic of Letters. Born in 1732, he secured election to the Academy of Berlin at nineteen years old and entered the French Academy of Sciences with unanimous approval in 1753. Lalande first made a name for himself when he published new results on the distance between the moon and the earth. These early successes blossomed into a prominent career, one especially marked by an interest in popularizing science. Lalande’s astronomy classes at the Collège de France, public lectures, and active correspondence speak to his reputation as one of France’s premier astronomers. He is not known today for any major discoveries, but devoted much of his time to the meticulous cataloging of stars. His students enhanced his reputation; Lalande had a knack for training astronomers and several of his protégés were highly successful. In addition to his scientific work, Lalande engaged in campaigns against the “superstitions” of his age: he lobbied the pope to remove the works of Galileo and Copernicus from the Index of Prohibited Books; he cofounded the masonic Lodge of the Nine Sisters with Voltaire [End Page 20] and Benjamin Franklin; and he supported educating women for careers in astronomy.33

Lalande’s relationships with women took various forms: paternal, romantic, and pedagogical. He saw himself as a ladies’ man, despite his total lack of conventional male beauty. “I have loved women very much; I still do,” he enthused. “I have always worked to contribute to their instruction, but my passion for them is rational: it has never jeopardized my fortune nor my studies.”34 He did not see himself as exclusively rational, however. Like many men of his time, Lalande reveled in his sensitivity and how quickly he could be moved to tears. His lifelong bachelorhood was not grounded in the misogynist belief that learned men needed to avoid women full stop. Instead, he sought out female collaborators.

Lalande chose collaborators from his friends and family—a common tendency for the time, even after the development of public research institutions.35 Of Lalande’s female associates, perhaps the most significant was Nicole-Reine Lepaute, the wife of a well-known watchmaker. Lalande made her acquaintance circa 1753 and, by 1754, worked with M. and Mme Lepaute on their Traité d’Horlogerie. Lalande found Lepaute impressive in nearly every way: she was beautiful, charming, and brilliant. He collaborated with her for decades, most notably for the Éphémérides and the Connaissance des Temps, two astronomical publications that required copious calculations. He credited Lepaute’s contributions to these works, praised her in his correspondence, and arranged for her to receive compensation for her work from the Académie des Sciences.36

Lalande was a rising star at mid-century, and he introduced Lepaute to such prominent savants as Alexis Clairaut and Jean-Jacques Dortous de Mairan. They were impressed by the “savante calculatrice” (learned calculator) and began to work with Lepaute. When Clairaut neglected to acknowledge her work on Halley’s comet, however, an outraged Lalande cut off communications with Clairaut for an entire year.37 In Lalande’s eyes, Lepaute deserved credit, credit that Clairaut inexcusably refused her. Even from this early date in his career, Lalande insisted that women could and should work in astronomy, and that their work deserved public recognition.

Although his relationship with Lepaute was his longest running collaboration, Lalande worked with a series of other women. His mistress Louise-Elisabeth-Félicité Du Pierry studied natural history and astronomy.38 Du Pierry became the first woman to teach astronomy in Paris, and hers was the first class geared towards women.39 Charlotte Amalie, the Duchess of Saxe-Gotha, likewise collaborated with Lalande by gathering data and performing mathematical calculations; he incorporated these into his published works. “It is a passion of mine to calculate,” she enthused.40 The Duchess’s fondness for Lalande ran so deep that she referred to him as her uncle.41 [End Page 21]

In the last decades of the eighteenth century, Lalande began to work more intensely with his biological family. He especially relied on his second cousin, Michel Lefrançois, and his illegitimate daughter, Marie Jeanne Harlay (called Amélie), whom he fathered sometime between the years 1767 and 1770.42 Amélie married Michel in 1788 and, by 1801, the family included a number of scientifically-named children: including Caroline (as in Herschel), Isaac (as in Newton), and Uranie (the muse of astronomy). These relatives remained useful collaborators for the rest of Lalande’s life. Starting in 1788, he trained both Amélie and Michel in astronomy, and they lived and worked together at Lalande’s observatory at the École Militaire in Paris. Most notably, they collaborated on a catalogue of 50,000 stars, an enormous undertaking that Lalande “would not have dared to begin … on [his] own.”43 Redacting stars was an arduous process, with each redaction requiring thirty-six separate calculations. Amélie Lefrançois nevertheless performed these calculations with great speed and dexterity. Her father noted that she “calculates assiduously and has already furnished [me] with more than 3000 calculated stars,” and that she did so with “a quite uncommon level of skill and facility that makes her extremely useful to astronomy.”44 Lefrançois’s knack for calculating marked her as an individual of intelligence, talent, and tenacity.45

Lalande’s relatives also worked in exchange for financial support and lodging.46 In a Declaration of Property written in 1795, Lalande underscored this notion of a household universally dedicated to the pursuit of astronomy. He wrote, “I am a bachelor, but to fulfill the duties of a citizen I have [supported] for many years the children of my relatives … I published this year 300 pages of charts for navigation which attest to our work.”47 To solidify their ties to Jérôme, Michel changed the family’s name from Lefrançois to Lefrançois de Lalande. Michel also received a promotion to astronomer in the Bureau des Longitudes upon his uncle’s death; Amélie presumably continued to work with him. They hoped to found a scientific dynasty à la Cassini, even as their children showed little interest in astronomy.48

The Lefrançois’s living arrangement mirrors that of other scientific families. Scientific work (observation, experimentation, and calculation) took place in the context of family homes, especially kitchens, rooftops, and studies that offered the requisite tools, vantage points, and seclusion. Women often participated in such work: they provided expertise in experiments conducted in kitchens or assisted with observation.49 Especially in fields like astronomy, which demanded collaboration, female family members worked alongside their husbands and brothers. As a result, many male savants collaborated with women, especially their wives, daughters, and sisters. Lalande was quite typical in this respect. [End Page 22]

Lalande stood out among male savants when it came to representation. He did not wish to elide or downplay the contributions of his female collaborators, but instead sought to recognize their work. Lelande did not try to turn them into “invisible assistants.”50 To recognize women in a way that forestalled accusations of impropriety or unfeminine ambition, Lalande described Nicole-Reine Lepaute and Amélie Lefrançois as model wives and mothers as well as ideal thinkers. Like Du Châtelet, he may have adopted this rhetorical strategy to protect his collaborators from unseemly allegations about their femininity. Yet Lalande’s writings also reveal the limitations of domestic rhetoric. Neither woman launched an independent career. Lalande’s rhetoric shows that familial language could be a double-edged sword, protecting women from attack but preventing them from developing autonomous careers.

“She is loved, she is always loving”: Representing Women Astronomers

Lalande had a number of priorities that guided his depictions of femmes savantes. He wanted to give his collaborators public recognition for their work, and he wanted to do so in a way that safeguarded their respectability. At the same time, he kept an eye on his own scholarly reputation. Representing his female collaborators was, in part, a way to represent himself as a man with enlightened views about women. Lalande also made sure to depict himself as the key discoverer and interpreter within his observatory. The women who worked with him may have been brilliant and hardworking, but Lalande still gave himself a starring role.

When Lalande earned a prize from the National Assembly for his Abrégé de Navigation, he reflected some of the acclaim onto his daughter by dedicating the prize to her. He also noted her role in the preface to the prize-winning work. “Madame Lefrançois, my niece [daughter],” Lalande wrote, “had the courage to take on the work [of calculating] and these are her tables that I publish here; I saw with pleasure that her youth and sex were no obstacle whatsoever to the completion of a long and difficult enterprise.”51 Lalande often railed against the stereotype that young women were ill suited to the long hours and complex thinking associated with astronomy. Here was another opportunity Lalande took to praise women’s capacity for astronomical work.

These calculations—characterized as “meticulous and onerous”—were not described as simple or a task best delegated to a female automaton.52 Instead, they were initially expected to be the work of “M. Chompré, skilled mathematician” who offered his services to Lalande.53 Chompré’s other [End Page 23] obligations frustrated the astronomer, however, because they slowed progress on the Abrégé. Eager to see the project underway, Lalande turned to his daughter for assistance. He then praised her work in the preface of the Abrégé and stressed the importance of Lefrançois’s work in his correspondence. He represented her labor as evidence of her talent and dedication; Lalande did not downplay her abilities by stressing her passive obedience or her suitability for rote tasks. Credit did not entail equality, however. Lalande’s attributions could be uneven and incomplete. He did not credit his daughter in all of his works or list her as a co-author. Nor did Lalande treat Amélie as a protégé, as he did her husband. He may well have considered her “useful but secondary,” to borrow the historian Judith P. Zinsser’s phrase.54

As years passed and Lalande’s collaboration with Lefrançois developed, he ruminated more extensively on how to best represent her and his other female collaborators. His female associates made regular appearances in his 1803 Bibliographie Astronomique, avec l’Histoire de l’Astronomie depuis 1781 jusqu’à 1802. The Bibliographie is a useful source for considering representations of learned women because Lalande discussed both male and female savants, a juxtaposition that makes for telling comparisons. These depictions did not capture women as they “really” were; they were strategic representations designed to ensure these women a favorable reception.

In the 1803 Bibliographie, Lalande’s friend and collaborator Nicole-Reine Lepaute merited lengthy entries for her work. He commended her work on calculating the positions of stars and comets, noting: “In 1759, I was made responsible for the Connaissance des Temps … the calculations for which could have occupied several people. I had the happiness to find in Mme Lepaute a resource without which I would not have been able to undertake this work.”55 She was likewise indispensable in collaborating on Lalande’s Ephémérides of 1774, for which “she performed alone the calculations for the position of the sun, moon, and all the planets, as one could see in the preface, where I took care to acknowledge my collaborators.”56 She eventually had to give up these punishing calculations because they damaged her eyesight.57 Throughout the Bibliographie, Lalande heaped praise on Lepaute’s intelligence, even going so far as to say that she “was the only woman in France to have acquired a true understanding of astronomy” and that she was “an object for emulation for a sex that it is in our interest to associate with our work.”58 Although writing more than a decade after her death, Lalande wistfully noted: “This interesting woman is often in my thoughts and always dear to my heart: the moments that I passed with her and in the bosom of her family are some of my most precious memories.”59

Lepaute was married to a famed clockmaker, and Lalande clarified in the Bibliographie that Lepaute’s excellence as an astronomer was only matched by her devotion as a wife.60 Lepaute’s intimate and intellectual [End Page 24] roles commingled to mutual benefit: “How the qualities of the heart add to the glory of the talents of a sharp mind!”61 Although Lepaute was a prolific calculator, “her calculations did not prevent her from seeing to her household affairs; account books rested alongside astronomy tables; taste and elegance were in her adjustments, without compromising her studies.”62 Lepaute seamlessly integrated her responsibilities as a wife with her work as an astronomer—there was space enough on her desk for both.63 Her love for her husband and her passion for astronomy sustained one another, according to Lalande. By stressing Lepaute’s love of her husband and willingness to serve him, Lalande praised her virtue and sensitivity.

Lalande was also forthright in crediting the work done by his daughter, Amélie Lefrançois, in the Bibliographie (1803), although he did not consider her Lepaute’s equal. In his 1793 Abrégé, he again noted that Lefrançois prepared all of the book’s navigation tables, and further observed that her work was essential for his star catalogue.64 Lalande mentioned her facility with astronomical calculations at several points in the text and continued to characterize this work as difficult, noting again that each redaction required thirty-six different calculations.65

As he had with Lepaute, Lalande featured themes of domestic and marital harmony. Lefrançois proved herself both dedicated and talented, he reported, as she “zealously assisted her husband with observing and calculating; two or three hundred of the stars [in the star catalogue] were the product of one very cold and painful night.”66 Very little could slow her down, it seemed. She continued to pursue her “immense work, to which she devoted herself with courage, and which even her pregnancy did not interrupt.”67 In discussing his daughter, Lalande emphasized that her femininity was no barrier whatsoever to her work. In this, he parted from his more misogynistic colleagues, who represented women as passive and constrained within a fragile feminine form.68 In Lalande’s telling, his daughter’s tenacity and talent overcame the physical challenges associated with astronomical work. Even pregnancy—a condition so often highlighted as proof that nature did not intend women to pursue advanced studies—did not stop her.

Lalande discussed Amélie’s family life in detail, much like he did with Lepaute. He stressed that her love for her husband combined with her love of astronomy, giving her the stamina necessary to endure the punishing astronomy work described above. He portrayed Lefrançois as her husband’s partner, working with “the same zeal” and encouraging him by her example.69 Theirs was a marriage founded upon love, dedication, and talent. Lalande characterized their union as a vow Amélie made not only to her husband but also to astronomy: she had been “consecrated to astronomy through her marriage.”70 She “then wished to likewise consecrate [End Page 25] her daughter from the moment of her birth.”71 The birth of this child was far from a private family affair as it was instead infused with astronomical significance: “This child of astronomy was born on 20 January, the day when we saw in Paris, for the first time, the comet that Miss Caroline Herschel had recently discovered; we thus named the child Caroline. Her godfather was Citizen Delambre, one of France’s premier astronomers.”72 Their intention was to (eventually) inspire the infant and other young women to follow in Lefrançois’s footsteps, because “for too long women have been kept from [scientific] study, which nevertheless might make them more interesting and happier, and would [also] give the sciences more attention and more proselytes.”73 Lalande’s pride in his young relatives—talented, dedicated, and equally devoted to each other and to astronomy—led him to hope that he was the founder of a new astronomical dynasty.74

Lalande further melded the ideals of domesticity and astronomy in a poem entitled “For My Daughter,” which he appended to a private letter to Lefrançois. He wrote that she could become very “absorbed” in her work, and that one might therefore worry that she would “forget her husband, her uncle, her children.” In the next stanza, however, he asserted that such fears were unnecessary, for “nothing distracts her from these tender sentiments / She is loved, she is always loving.”75 The poem then celebrated the happiness Lefrançois experienced while scanning the night sky. In a letter written in 1805, he described her along these same lines: she was blessed with “wit, grace, and talents. There is nothing left for me to say, except that she loves her children.”76 Once again, Amélie’s love for astronomy and love for her family shaded into and sustained each other.

In developing a domestic framework to discuss learned women, Lalande showed that it was plausible to imagine women as simultaneously talented, driven, and deeply attached to their families—a representation which undercut arguments that women savants were not capable of pursuing intellectual work. As the historian Sarah Ross has noted, men and women often used familial language to make the unusual more palatable.77 Lalande highlighted his associates’ roles as wives and mothers to protect them from accusations that they were unnatural, unfeminine, or immoral—accusations that some contemporaries levied at learned women.78 Stressing both their intellectual and affective merits made clear that although these women were learned, they were also well beloved as wives and mothers. It was a protective strategy as well as a reflection of Lalande’s views on family love and astronomy. Given the emphasis placed on domesticity in post-revolutionary France, it makes sense that Lalande clarified that nothing, not even their work in astronomy, interfered with these women’s domestic duties. [End Page 26]

The juxtaposition of intimate and scientific excellence was more common in Lalande’s discussions of women than of men. He made frequent mention of male astronomers’ family connections, but he did not launch into rapturous descriptions of family feeling when discussing men in the Bibliographie. For example, in his many entries for Pierre Méchain—a protégé who helped determine the length of the meter—Lalande mentioned that Méchain’s family but did not discuss how tenderly he cared for his children or how lovingly his wife assisted him with his work (although she did, in fact, take over many of his duties while he measured the meridian).79 Méchain, like the other men in the Bibliographie, did not need the same protective cover as women astronomers.

This is not to say that Lalande considered emotion and family love to be the exclusive purview of women. In his will, “Moral Testament,” he stressed how deeply he loved his own family, writing: “My sensibility makes me prone to tears; this is especially brought about by my attachment to my family, which is one of my most cherished duties.”80 In a eulogy written for his friend, the naturalist Philibert Commerson (d. 1773), moreover, Lalande waxed effusively about the love shared by M. and Mme Commerson and the tragic circumstances that had befallen them: “This sweet and charming union kept him occupied for two years … but the birth of [their] child cost the mother her life.”81 The naturalist carried on with his work and later discovered a new plant species that resembled two hearts grown together. Commerson commemorated the other half of his own heart, his much-mourned wife, by naming the plant Pulcheria Commersonia.82 Lalande thus portrayed Commerson as sensitive and devoted to the memory of his spouse, stressing that he combined his intellectual and romantic passions. Many representations of savants, indeed, like the eulogies written for members of the Académie des Sciences, were suffused with sentimental and domestic ideals.83 Scientific merit and family love thus could go hand in hand, for men as well as women, during the eighteenth century.

Women, however, paid a higher cost when they subscribed to these ideals. Family men often gained assistants in the form of their wives and children; women savants could not often say the same of their husbands.84 For women, to be both loving and learned required them to assume the duties of a “double day”: a full slate of domestic duties along with a full day of scientific work. Women’s work in these formulations was, moreover, more relational than men’s: they worked with husbands, brothers, and male friends, but rarely on their own. Women found it more difficult to claim discoveries for themselves or to appear as the lead interpreter in an observatory. More likely than not, they played the role of gifted assistant rather than head researcher. [End Page 27]


In Enlightenment Europe, women faced difficult tradeoffs if they wished to be femmes savantes. They could work anonymously, sacrificing their chance for recognition and advancement. Or they could insist on public recognition and demand full credit for their work, but at the risk of ridicule. These choices only became more difficult in the years after the French Revolution as writers, alarmed by revolutionary “excess,” insisted that domesticity was the only virtuous path available to women. To seek out a public role or to indulge personal ambitions was necessarily a sign of social disorder and decay.

Yet for all the turmoil of the revolutionary and postrevolutionary years, Lalande remained remarkably consistent in representing his female collaborators. He tried to navigate pre- and post-revolutionary gender norms in a way that granted women astronomers full credit for their talent and their work while sidestepping common criticisms of femmes savantes. Lalande stressed that women’s intellectual work was not a threat to the social order; instead women’s intellectual work was compatible with their love for their families and desire to serve their kin to the best of their abilities. By utilizing affective rhetoric, Lalande celebrated his female associates as ideal wives and mothers as well as paragons of learning. He argued that all women—not just rare, exceptional women—could and should pursue ambitious scientific work. Lalande’s vision had its limits, however, and he continued to see women as assistants, not lead researchers.

Even as Lalande praised his female collaborators and encouraged women to pursue astronomy, his revealed just how high the bar was set for femmes savantes in his writing. Yes, they could be loving, loved, and learned, but only if they pursued a grueling “double day.” Even then, however, Lelande confined women to relational roles. This framework endures today. Scientific work might now be organized in more public and institutional ways, but the suggestion that the best sort of female intellectual was the one who managed to devote herself fully to her family and to her work has proven quite durable.

Meghan K. Roberts

MEGHAN K. ROBERTS is an assistant professor in the History Department at Bowdoin College, where she teaches early-modern European history. This article draws upon the research conducted for her recent book, Sentimental Savants: Philosophical Families in Enlightenment France (University of Chicago Press, 2016), which explores the family as a site of experimentation, collaboration, and self-fashioning for men and women of letters.


I wish to thank Ken Alder, Nina Gelbart, Jan Golinski, Katie Jarvis, and my anonymous reviewers for their critiques and suggestions.

1. Mary Terrall, “Frogs on the Mantelpiece: The Practice of Observation in Daily Life,” in Histories of Scientific Observation, ed. Lorraine Daston and Elizabeth Lunbeck (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 185–205; Mary Terrall, “The Uses of Anonymity in the Age of Reason,” Scientific Authorship: Credit and Intellectual Property [End Page 28] in Science, ed. Mario Biagioli and Peter Galison (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 91–112; Sara Stidstone Gronim, “What Jane Knew: A Woman Botanist in the Eighteenth Century,” Journal of Women’s History 19, no. 3 (Fall 2007): 33–59.

2. Jérôme de Lalande, Astronomie des Dames (Paris: Chez Bidault, 1806); Jérôme de Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique avec l’Histoire de l’Astronomie, depuis 1781 jusqu’à 1802 (Paris: l’Imprimerie de la République, 1803).

3. For an overview of the literature on household work and science, see Alix Cooper, “Homes and Households,” Cambridge History of Science, vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); see also Monika Mommertz, “The Invisible Economy of Science: A New Approach to the History of Gender and Astronomy at the Eighteenth-Century Berlin Academy of Sciences,” trans. Julia Barker, in Men, Women, and the Birthing of Modern Science, ed. Judith P. Zinsser (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), 159–78; Marsha L. Richmond, “Women in the Early History of Genetics: William Bateson and the Newnham College Mendelians, 1900–1910,” Isis 92, no. 1 (March 2001), 55–90, esp. 59–64. Marika Hedin demonstrates that women struggle to achieve recognition as autonomous and excellent scientists (hence the low number of female Nobel Laureates) and are often dismissed as mere assistants to men, including their husbands. Marika Hedin, “A Prize for Grumpy Old Men? Reflections on the Lack of Female Nobel Laureates,” Gender and History 26, no. 1 (April 2014), 52–63.

4. Londa Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex?: Women in the Origins of Modern Science (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991); Patricia Fara, Pandora’s Breeches: Women, Science, and Power in the Enlightenment (London: Pimlico, 2004); Margaret Rossiter, “Which Science, Which Women?” Osiris 12 (1997), 169–85.

5. As the work done by Amélie Lefrançois, Lalande’s daughter, is not well known, other scholars have suggested that further study would contribute to our understanding of women’s work; this is another reason Lalande is worth examining. Mommertz, “The Invisible Economy of Science,” 159–178.

6. Mary Terrall, “Biography as Cultural History of Science,” Isis 97, no. 2 (June 2006): 306–13.

7. A few salient examples: Judith P. Zinsser, Emilie Du Châtelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment (New York: Viking, 2006); Massimo Mazzotti, The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007); Sarah Ross, The Birth of Feminism: Woman as Intellect in Renaissance Italy and England (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009).

8. Carol Pal, Republic of Women: Rethinking the Republic of Letters in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Paula Findlen, “Becoming a Scientist: Gender and Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century Italy,” Science in Context 16, no. 1 (March 2003): 59–87; Mazzotti, The World of Maria Gaetana; Natalie Zemon Davis, Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995), 140–202; Ann T. Shteir, Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora’s Daughters and Botany in England, 1760–1820 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 33–77. [End Page 29]

9. Judith P. Zinsser, “Entrepreneur of the ‘Republic of Letters’: Émile de Breteuil, Marquise Du Châtelet, and Bernard Mandeville’s The Fable of the Bees,” French Historical Studies 25, no. 4 (Fall 2002): 595–624; Paula Findlen, “Translating the New Science: Women and the Circulation of Knowledge in Enlightenment Italy,” Configurations 3, no. 2 (Spring 1995): 167–206.

10. On Du Châtelet, see Zinsser, Emilie Du Châtelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment; Ruth Hagengruber, ed., Emilie Du Châtelet between Leibniz and Newton (New York: Springer Science and Business Media, 2012); Judith Zinsser and Julie Chandler Hayes, eds., Emilie Du Châtelet: rewriting Enlightenment philosophy and science (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2006); Robyn Arianrhod, Seduced by Logic: Émilie Du Châtelet, Mary Sommerville, and the Newtonian Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 67–146; Mary Terrall, “Emilie du Chatelet and the Gendering of Science,” History of Science 33, no. 3 (September 1995): 283–310. On Bassi, see Paula Findlen, “Science as a Career in Enlightenment Italy: The Strategies of Laura Bassi,” Isis 84, no. 3 (September 1993): 441–69; Gabriella Berti Logan, “The Desire to Contribute: An Eighteenth-Century Italian Woman of Science,” American Historical Review 99, no. 3 (June 1994): 785–812.

11. Terrall, “Emilie du Châtelet and the Gendering of Science,” 289–94; Mary Terrall, “Gendered Spaces, Gendered Audience: Inside and Outside the Paris Academy of Science,” Configurations 3, no. 2 (Spring 1995): 207–32, esp. 223–30.

12. Paula Findlen, “The Scientist’s Body,” The Faces of Nature in Enlightenment Europe, ed. Lorraine Daston and Gianna Pomata (Berlin: Berliner-Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2003), 211–36.

13. Paola Bertucci, “The In/visible Woman: Mariangela Ardinghelli and the Circulation of Knowledge Between Paris and Naples in the Eighteenth Century,” Isis 104, no. 2 (June 2013): 244–9.

14. Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex?, 79–101; Claire Brock, The Comet Sweeper: Caroline Herschel’s Astronomical Ambition (Cambridge: Icon Books, 2007), chap. 3 and 4; Fara, Pandora’s Breeches, chap. 7 and 8; Rob Iliffe and Frances Willmoth, “Astronomy and the Domestic Sphere: Margaret Flamsteed and Caroline Herschel as Assistant Astronomers,” in Women, Science, and Medicine, 1500–1700: Mothers and Sisters of the Royal Society, ed. Lynette Hunter and Sarah Hutton (Thrupp: Sutton Publishing, 1997), 235–65.

15. For example, a biographer of Maria Cunitz noted that “Mlle. Cunitz s’appliqua tellement à l’Astronomie, qu’elle passoit la plûpart des nuits, à faire des Observations, ou à calculer, & prenoit le jour pour dormir: ce qui lui fit négliger ses affaires domestiques. Une vie si dérangée, pour une Femme, donna lieu à plusieurs contes populaires, qu’on débita sur son sujet” (“Mademoiselle Cunitz applied herself so diligently to Astronomy that she spent most of her nights Observing or calculating, and then she would sleep during the day; this led her to neglect her domestic affairs. Such a disorderly life, for a Woman, gives rise to many different rumors, which started to circulate about her.”). Alphonse de Vignoles, “Eloge de Madame Kirch,” Bibliothèque Germanique ou Histoire Litteraire de l’Allemagne, de la Suisse, et des Pays du Norde (Amsterdam: Pierre Humbert et Fils, 1721), vol. 3, 168. See also Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex?, 92. [End Page 30]

16. For an alternative view of Voltaire’s feminism, see Florence Lotterie, Le Genre des Lumières: Femme et philosophe au XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2013), 103–9.

17. For example: “L’un doit être actif et fort, l’autre passif et faible: il faut nécessairement que l’un veuille et puisse, il suffit que l’autre résiste peu. Ce principe établi, il s’ensuit que la femme est faite spécialement pour plaire à l’homme” (“The one [sex] is active and strong, the other passive and weak: he must be able to do what he wants and can do; it will suffice that she resists little. This principle being established, it follows that women have been made particularly for men’s pleasure.”). Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, ou de l’éducation (Paris: GF Flammarion, 1966), 466. For more on Rousseau’s ideas about girls’ education, see Book Five of Emile. To put Rousseau in context, see Jennifer Popiel, Rousseau’s Daughters: Domesticity, Education, and Autonomy in Modern France (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2008); Natasha Gill, Educational Philosophy in the French Enlightenment: From Nature to Second Nature (Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate University Press, 2010).

18. For example: “La nature a mis d’un côté la force & la majesté, le courage & la raison; de l’autre, les graces & la beauté, la finesse & le sentiment. … Ce qui est agrément ou vertu dans un sexe, est defaut ou difformité dans l’autre” (“Nature has given to one side [sex] force and majesty, courage and reason; to the other, grace and beauty, finesse and sentiment… All that which is agreeable or virtuous for one sex is a defect or deformity for the other.”). Desmahis, “Femme (morale),” Encyclopédie, vol. 6, 472. On women as moral exemplars, see Marisa Linton, “Virtue Rewarded? Women and the Politics of Virtue in Eighteenth-Century France, part I,” History of European Ideas 26, no. 1 (2000): 35–49; and Marisa Linton, “Virtue Rewarded? Women and the Politics of Virtue in Eighteenth-Century France, part II,” History of European Ideas 26, no. 1 (March 2000): 51–65; Lieselotte Steinbrügge, The Moral Sex: Women’s Nature in the French Enlightenment, trans. Pamela E. Selwyn (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 62; Popiel, Rousseau’s Daughters, 47.

19. Boudier de Villemert, Ami des Femmes (London: 1775), 19, 28, 36; Lotterie, Genre des Lumières, 20–21.

20. On women’s education more generally, see Popiel, Rousseau’s Daughters; Martine Sonnet, L’éducation des filles au temps des Lumières (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1987); Sylvia Tomaselli, “The Enlightenment Debate on Women,” History Workshop 20 (Autumn 1985): 101–24; Jean Bloch, “Discourses of Female Education in the Writings of Eighteenth-Century French Women,” in Women, Gender and Enlightenment, ed. Barbara Taylor and Sarah Knott (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 243–58.

21. Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex?, 189–244; Steinbrügge, The Moral Sex, 18–53; Michael E. Winston, From Perfectibility to Perversion: Meliorism in Eighteenth-Century France (New York: Peter Lang, 2005), 84–119; Anne C. Vila, Enlightenment and Pathology: Sensibility in the Literature and Medicine of Eighteenth-Century France (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 269; Ludmilla Jordanova, “Natural Facts: An Historical Perspective on Science and Sexuality,” in Nature, Culture and Gender, ed. Carolyn MacCormack and Marilyn Strathern (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 42–69. [End Page 31]

22. Pal, Republic of Women; Ross, Birth of Feminism; Zinsser, Emilie Du Châtelet; Findlen, “Science as a Career.”

23. Emilie du Châtelet, Les Lettres de la Marquise du Châtelet, ed. Theodore Besterman (Geneva: Institut et Musée Voltaire, 1958), vol. 2, p. 13–14; see the translated text, with a useful introduction, in Emilie Du Châtelet, Selected Philosophical and Scientific Writings, ed. Judith P. Zinsser, trans. Isabelle Bour and Judith Zinsser (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).

24. John R. Iverson, “A female member of the Republic of Letters: Du Châtelet’s Portrait in the Bilder-Sal […] brümhter Schrifftsteller,” in Émilie Du Châtelet: Rewriting Enlightenment Philosophy and Science, ed. Judith P. Zinsser and Julie Chandler Hays (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2006), 35–51, esp. 41–45.

25. Besterman, Les Lettres de la Marquise du Châtelet, vol. 2, 116.

26. “une femme aussi recommandable par ses vertus qu’elle lui fut précieuse par ses travaux. Versée dans la connoissance de plusieurs langues, instruite de plusieurs sciences, elle épargnoit à son mari une multitude de recherches dont elle n’a jamais parlé. Toute sa vanité étoit le bonheur de son mari, qui vouloit toujours qu’elle l’aidât à dire ses pensées” (“A woman as commendable for her virtue as she was precious for her work. Well versed in the knowledge of several languages, learned in many fields, she handled many inquiries, of which she never spoke, for her husband. Her one vanity was her husband’s happiness, and he always wanted her to help direct his thoughts.”). Louis-Pierre Manuel, L’Année Francois: Ou Vies des Hommes Qui Ont Honoré la France, Ou Par Leurs Talens, Ou Par Leurs Service et Sur-Tout Par Leurs Vertus (Paris: Nyon, 1789), 4:276.

27. Jean-Jacques Garnier, L’homme de lettres (Paris: 1764), 191–2.

28. Meghan K. Roberts, Sentimental Savants: Philosophical Families in Enlightenment France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 24–31. For examples of similar rhetoric, see M. Doigni du Ponceau, “Epitre a un Homme de Lettres Célibataire” (Paris: J. B. Brunet, 1773); Condorcet’s eulogy of Buffon, J.A.N. Condorcet, Oeuvres de Condorcet, ed. Arthur Condorcet-O’Connor (Paris, 1847–1849), v. 3, 367.

29. G. J. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 248; David Denby, Sentimental Narrative and the Social Order in France, 1760–1820 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Vila, Enlightenment and Pathology; Sarah C. Maza, Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: An Essay on the Social Imaginary, 1750–1850 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 41–68; Sarah C. Maza, Private Lives and Public Affairs: The Causes Célèbres of Prerevolutionary France (Berkeley: University of California Press), 84–85.

30. Mary Terrall, Catching Nature in the Act: Réaumur and the Practice of Natural History in the Eighteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 30; Roberts, “Philosophes Mariés and Epouses Philosophiques.”

31. Popiel, Rousseau’s Daughters, 91–103; Denise Z. Davidson, “Bonnes lectures: Improving Women and Society through Literature in Post-Revolutionary France,” in The French Experience from Republic to Monarchy, 1793–1824: New Directions in Politics, [End Page 32] Knowledge, and Culture, ed. Máire F. Cross and David Williams (New York: Palgrave, 2000), 155–67; Jennifer Ngaire Heuer, The Family and the Nation: Gender and Citizenship in Revolutionary France, 1789–1830 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007), 34–35, 72; Anne Verjus, “Gender, Sexuality, and Political Culture,” in A Companion to the French Revolution, ed. Peter McPhee (Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012); Dorinda Outram, The Body and the French Revolution: Sex, Class, and Political Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 133. On one woman’s decision to avoid politics after the Terror, see Lindsey A. H. Parker, Writing the Revolution: A French Woman’s History in Letters (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), chap. 7.

32. Dorinda Outram, Georges Cuvier: Vocation, Science and Authority in Post-Revolutionary France (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984), 50–52.

33. Ken Alder, The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World (New York: Free Press, 2002), 77–80.

34. “J’ai beaucoup aimé les femmes; je les aime encore. J’ai toujours cherché à contribuer à leur instruction; mais ma passion pour elles a été raisonnée; jamais elle n’on nui ni à ma fortune, ni à mes études.” “Éloge Historique de M. de la Lande, par Mme la Comtesse de S—,” Mercure de France (Paris), June 1810, 280.

35. On household or familial science in the modern era, see Deborah Coen, Vienna in the Age of Uncertainty: Science, Liberalism, and Private Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007); Paul White, “Darwin’s Emotions: The Scientific Self and the Sentiment of Objectivity,” Isis 100, no. 4 (December 2009): 811–26; Emily J. Levine, “PanDora, or Erwin and Dora Panofsky and the Private History of Ideas,” Journal of Modern History 83, no. 4 (December 2011): 753–87, 757; Helena M. Pycior, Nancy G. Slack, and Pnina Abir-Am, eds., Creative Couples in the Sciences (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996); Annette Lykknes, Donald Opitz, and Brigitte Van Tiggelen, eds., For Better or For Worse?: Collaborative Couples in the Sciences (Boston: Bïrkhauser, 2012); Marsha L. Richmond, “Women in the Early History of Genetics: William Bateson and the Newnham College Mendelians, 1900–1910,” Isis 92, no. 1 (March 2001): 55–90, esp. 59–64.

36. Elisabeth Badinter, “Un couple d’astronomes: Jérôme Lalande et Reine Lepaute,” Société Archéologique, Scientifique, et Littéraire de Bézier 10, no. 1 (2004–2005): 71–72; Simone Dumont, Un Astronome des Lumières: Jérôme Lalande (Paris: Vuibert, 2007), 71–74, esp. the discussion of Lalande’s will on p. 73; Simone Dumont, Un Astronome des Lumières: Jérôme Lalande (Paris: Vuibert, 2007), 22–23, 91.

37. Badinter, “Un couple d’astronomes,” 72–73.

38. Dumont, Un Astronome des Lumières, 21, 67, 91; Fara, Pandora’s Breeches, 18.

39. Dumont, Un Astronome des Lumières, 148.

40. “c’est une passion pour moi de calculer”; “je porte toujours dans mes poches l’astronomie des dames.” Charlotte de Saxe-Gotha to Amélie Lefrancais Lalande, 23 December 1798, Lettres de la duchesse Charlotte de Saxe-Gotha, copies de Julien Raspail, MS 2761, Bibliothèque Inguimbertine, Carpentras, France. [End Page 33]

41. For more on familial language as a social bond, see Pal, Republic of Women.

42. Dumont, Un Astronome des Lumières, 327; Lalande to Du Pierry, 15 Messidor, Year 2 in Lettres, 54.

43. “n’aurai[t] pas osé entreprendre seul un semblable travail.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 691.

44. “calcule assidûment, et a déjà fourni au dit Lalande plus de 3000 étoiles calculés”; “une habitude et une facilité peu communes qui la rendent extrêmement utile a l’astronomie” (“I am unmarried, but to fulfill the duties of a citizen I have, for a long time, cared for the children of my relatives: they have no other source of support than my nephew, nor any other occupation than the work they do with me on astronomy. I published this year 300 pages of navigation tables with testify to our work.”). Bibliothèque Inguimbertine, Carpentras, 2763.

45. On later developments that transformed calculating into something lesser, see Lorraine Daston, “Enlightenment Calculations,” Critical Inquiry 21, no. 1 (Autumn 1994): 182–202; on calculation as (usually) gendered masculine during the eighteenth century, see Mary Terrall, “Metaphysics, Mathematics, and the Gendering of Science in Eighteenth-Century France,” in The Sciences in Enlightened Europe, ed. William Clark, Jan Golinski, and Simon Schaffer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 257–60.

46. “les services qui rend a l’astronomie et a lui personnellement michel jean jerome Lefrancais son parent”; “jeanne harlay lefrancais épouse du dit lefrancais calcule assidûment”; “cinq mille livres…pendant tout le tems qu’ils [illeg.] chez lui et travaillent pour lui” (“The services which Michel Jean Jerome Lefrancais my relative has rendered to astronomy and to me personally; Jeanne Harlay LeFrancais spouse of the aforementioned LeFrancais calculates assiduously; five thousand livres…for as long as they [live] with and work for [Lalande].”). Joseph Jérôme de Lalande, “Dotation faite à son neveu et à sa nièce,” Documents pour une biographie de Lalande: pièces écrites par l’astronome lui-même, MS 2763, Bibliothèque Inguimbertine, Carpentras, France.

47. “Je suis célibataire, mais pour remplir les devoirs de citoyen j’ai depuis long-temps…enfants de mes parens; ils n’ont point d’autre ressource que mon neveu, ni d’autre occupation pour les ainés que de travailler avec moi pour l’astronomie. J’ai publié cette année 300 pages de tables horaires pour la navigation, qui attestent…de nos Travaux.” Joseph Jérôme de Lalande, “Declaration des biens, an II,” MS 2761, Bibliothèque Inguimbertine, Carpentras, France.

48. Dumont, Un Astronome des Lumières, 337.

49. Deborah Harkness, “Managing an Experimental Household: The Dees of Mortlake and the Practice of Natural Philosophy,” Isis 88, no. 2 (June 1994): 247–62; Fara, Pandora’s Breeches, 107–185; Terrall, Catching Nature in the Act. On gender as an asset rather than a liability in crafting medical authority, see Alisha Rankin, Panaceia’s Daughters: Noblewomen as Healers in Early Modern Germany (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013). [End Page 34]

50. On invisible assistants, see Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex?; Fara, Pandora’s Breeches; Margaret Rossiter, “Which Science, Which Women?”

51. Jérôme Lalande, Abrégé de Navigation Historique, Théorique et Pratique (Paris: Chez l’Auteur, au Collège de France & chez Dezauche, Géographe de la Marine, 1793), 20.

52. “minutieux & pénibles.” Lalande, Abrégé, 3. On female calculators as automatons, see Jessica Riskin, “The Defecating Duck, or, the Ambiguous Origins of Artificial Life,” Critical Inquiry 29, no. 4 (Summer 2003): 629–31; Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity (New York: Zone Books, 2007); Daston, “Enlightenment Calculations,” 182–202; Alison Winter, “The Calculus of Suffering: Ada Lovelace and the Corporeal Constraints on Women’s Knowledge in Early Victorian England,” in Science Incarnate: The Physical Presentation of Intellectual Selves, ed. Christopher Lawrence and Steven Shapin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 207. On a lack of intelligence as a desirable quality in calculators, see Simon Schaffer, “Babbage’s Intelligence: Calculating Engines and the Factory System,” Critical Inquiry 21, no. 1 (August 1994): 203–27.

53. “habile Mathématicien.” Lalande, Abrégé, 2.

54. Judith P. Zinsser, “Introduction,” in Men, Women, and the Birthing of Modern Science, ed. Judith P. Zinsser (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), 6.

55. “en 1759, je fus chargé de la Connaissance des temps…dont les calculs pourraient occuper plusieurs personnes. J’eus le bonheur de trouver Mme Lepaute un secours sans lequel je n’aurais pu entreprendre ce travail.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 679.

56. “elle fit seule les calculs du soleil, de la lune et de toutes les planètes, comme on le voit dans la préface, où j’avais soin de rendre justice à mes coopérateurs.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 679.

57. Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 679.

58. “était la seule femme en France qui eût acquis de véritables connaissances dans l’astronomie…” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 680; “un objet d’émulation pour un sexe que nous avons intérêt d’associer à nos travaux…” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 676.

59. “Cette femme intéressante est souvent présente à ma pensée, toujours chère à mon coeur: les momens que j’ai passés auprès d’elle et dans le sein de sa famille, sont ceux que j’aime le plus à ma rappeler.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 680–1.

60. Both the Lepaute’s and LeFrançois’ marriages fit within the context of eighteenth-century companionate marriage and Enlightenment discourses of family love. Jeffrey Watt, The Making of Modern Marriage: Matrimonial Control and the Rise of Sentiment in Neuchâtel, 1550–1800 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), 1–23; Maurice Daumas, Le Mariage Amoureux: Histoire du lien conjugal sous l’Ancien Régime (Paris: Armand Colin, 2004), 259–91; Suzanne Desan, The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 67–74; Dena Goodman, Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009), 322. [End Page 35]

61. “combien les qualités du coeur ajoutent à la gloire des talens de l’esprit!” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 679.

62. “ses calculs ne l’empêchaient de s’occuper des affaires de la maison; les livres de commerce étaient à côté des tables astronomiques; le goût et l’élégance étaient dans ses ajustemens, sans nuire à ses études….” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 680.

63. Although Lalande did not address this issue, even women’s domestic acumen could fall under attack in postrevolutionary France. Women claiming to be experts in domestic economy could find themselves dismissed by male critics. E. C. Spary, Feeding France: New Sciences of Food, 1760–1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 45–49.

64. Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 691.

65. Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 597, 697, 755, 756.

66. “secondait avec zèle son mari dans ses observation et ses calculs; deux ou trois cents étoiles sont le fruit d’une nuit très-froide et bien pénible.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 739.

67. “travail immense, auquel elle s’est dévouée avec courage, et que sa grossesse même n’a pas interrompu.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 851.

68. Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex?, 189–244; Lotterie, Genre des Lumières, 298.

69. Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 703.

70. “consacrée à l’astronomie par son mariage.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 697.

71. “elle voulut encore y consacrer sa fille dès sa naissance.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 697.

72. “Cet enfant de l’astronomie naquit le 20 janvier, jour où nous vîmes à Paris, pour la première fois, la comète que miss Caroline Herschel venait de découvrir; on donna donc à l’enfant le nom de Caroline; son parrain fut le C.en Delambre, un des premiers astronomes que nous ayons.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 697.

73. “trop long-temps les femmes ont été écartées des études, qui pouvaient cependant les rendre plus intéressantes et plus heureuses, et donner aux sciences plus d’activité et plus de prosélytes.” Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 697.

74. Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 851.

75. “oublie son marie, son oncle, ses enfans”; “Rien ne la distrait des tendres sentimens/Elle est aimée; elle est toujours aimante.” Bibliothèque Inguimbertine, Carpentras, 2761.

76. “esprit, les grâces, les talens. Il ne me reste rien à dire, que son amour pour ses enfans.” Bibliothèque Inguimbertine, Carpentras, 2761. [End Page 36]

77. Ross, The Birth of Feminism, 7.

78. Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex?. For accusations of sexual impropriety, see also Alphonse de Vignoles, “Eloge de Madame Kirch,” Bibliothèque Germanique ou Histoire Litteraire de l’Allemagne, de la Suisse, et des Pays du Norde (Amsterdam: Pierre Humbert et Fils, 1721), vol. 3, 168.

79. For example, Lalande, Bibliographie Astronomique, 877; Alder, The Measure of All Things, 40–41.

80. “Ma sensibilité fait que je pleure aisément: elle s’est surtout exercée par mon attachement pour ma famille, qui a été un de mes devoirs les plus chers.” Lalande, “Testament Moral,” in Louis Aimable, Le Franc-Maçon Jérôme Lalande (Paris: Charavay Frères, 1889), Appendix M, 52.

81. “cette union douce & charmante l’occupa pendant deux ans; il en eut un fils en 1762 … mais la naissance de cet enfant coûta la vie à sa mere.” Jérôme Lalande, Éloge de M. Commerson (S.I., n.d.), 5.

82. Lalande, Éloge de M. Commerson, 6.

83. Roberts, Sentimental Savants, 13–39.

84. There are notable exceptions. Findlen, “Science as a Career,” 467; Rebecca Messbarger, The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 79–80. [End Page 37]

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