Home  »  Scientific Papers Vol. 38, Part 7  »  Introduction Note

Louis Pasteur (1822–95). Scientific Papers.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Introduction Note

LOUIS PASTEUR was born at Dôle, Jura, France, December 27, 1822, and died near Saint-Cloud, September 28, 1895. His interest in science, and especially in chemistry, developed early, and by the time he was twenty-six he was professor of the physical sciences at Dijon. The most important academic positions held by him later were those as professor of chemistry at Strasburg, 1849; dean of the Faculty of Sciences at Lille, 1854; science director of the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, 1857; professor of geology, physics, and chemistry at the École des Beaux Arts; professor of chemistry at the Sorbonne, 1867. After 1875 he carried on his researches at the Pasteur Institute. He was a member of the Institute, and received many honors from learned societies at home and abroad.

In respect of the number and importance, practical as well as scientific, of his discoveries, Pasteur has hardly a rival in the history of science. He may be regarded as the founder of modern stereo-chemistry; and his discovery that living organisms are the cause of fermentation is the basis of the whole modern germ-theory of disease and of the antiseptic method of treatment. His investigations of the diseases of beer and wine; of pébrine, a disease affecting silk-worms; of anthrax, and of fowl cholera, were of immense commercial importance and led to conclusions which have revolutionized physiology, pathology, and therapeutics. By his studies in the culture of bacteria of attenuated virulence he extended widely the practise of inoculation with a milder form of various diseases, with a view to producing immunity.

The following papers present some of the most important of his contributions, and exemplify his extraordinary powers of lucid exposition and argument.