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Pierre-Gilles-Antoine-Honoré Flaugergues:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Flaugergues, Pierre-Gilles-Antoine-Honoré, 1755-1830
Title: Pierre-Gilles-Antoine-Honoré Flaugergues Collection
Dates: 1787-1830, undated
Extent: 3 boxes (1.26 linear feet)
Abstract: The collection of French amateur astronomer Honoré Flaugergues contains manuscripts of scientific work and a few copies of outgoing correspondence. Flaugergues is perhaps best known for discovering the Great Comet of 1811.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-1415
Language: French with one item in Latin
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchases, 1973-1989 (R5891, R11654)
Processed by: Kelsey Handler, 2012

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Pierre-Gilles-Antoine-Honoré Flaugergues, better known as Honoré Flaugergues, was born in Viviers, France on May 16, 1755. Raised by his father, Dominique Antoine Flaugergues, he showed promising skill in the sciences from an early age. Flaugergues became a gifted amateur astronomer, and is perhaps best known for discovering the Great Comet of 1811. A crater on Mars is named after him.
In 1795, Flaugergues became Justice of the Peace in Viviers, a position he held until his death. In 1796, he became an associate of the National Institute. He never left Viviers, even declining an offer in 1797 to be director at the observatory in Toulon so he could stay in his hometown.
Throughout his life, Flaugergues entered his papers in many academic competitions, and won several. He took the top prize from the Academy of Lyon in 1776, 1790, 1807, and 1812. He also won prizes from the Academy of Nîmes in 1812 and 1815, as well as one from Rouen in 1813.
Flaugergues died November 26, 1830.


Bigourdan, M. G. "Honoré Flaugergues, sa Vie et Ses Travaux," Bulletin Astronomique 1, no. 1 (1884): 569-576.
Hoefer, M. "Flaugergues," Nouvelle biographie générale 17 (1853-1866): 854.
Lynne, W. T. "Honoré Flaugergues," The Observatory 28 (1905): 391-392.

Scope and Contents

The Pierre-Gilles-Antoine-Honoré Flaugergues Collection, 1787-1830, contains manuscripts of Flaugergues' scientific work and a few copies of correspondence. The collection is arranged alphabetically in a single series by the format of material. All items are written in French, except for one in Latin.
Flaugergues was fairly meticulous about labeling his work, so the collection has been arranged in thirteen categories, nine of which Flaugergues designated: Carte, Mémoires, Observations, Observations astronomiques, Notes, Propositions, Recherches, Relevés, and Tables. Four categories were added during cataloging: Correspondence, Portfolios (intact groups of papers), Other (items not fitting within any other category), and Undesignated items/fragments (items that are either unlabeled or incomplete). While the majority of the items within each category have been ordered alphabetically, Correspondence and Observations astronomiques are arranged chronologically. Some documents within the Mémoires section have related supplements, which are located together in the same folder, but listed individually in the container list. A bibliography of Flaugergues' published works (De mes ouvrages...) is available in folder 3.5.
The manuscripts contain scientific observations, mainly astronomical in nature, although there are also many dealing with more general physical science topics. The papers address comets, eclipses, the moon and the sun, and the planets Mercury and Saturn. For example, a series of manuscripts capture Flaugergues' astronomical observations made at Viviers between 1796 and 1815. A map of the course of the comet of 1811 is located in folder 1.1. Other manuscripts document Flaugergues' observations, experiments, or ideas about a range of topics, such as atmospheric pressure, heat, light, temperature, wind, and weather. Two documents concern the rain and snowfall at Viviers, over periods of forty and fifty years, respectively.
The collection also contains copies of five letters from Flaugergues to an unidentified Baron. It is probable that this Baron is Franz Xaver von Zach, a German astronomer who was a long-time friend of Flaugergues. One incoming letter, although unsigned, is likely from Baron von Zach. The letters concern Flaugergues' astronomical observations. One other outgoing letter is addressed to a 'M. Pictet,' likely Marc-Auguste Pictet, a professor of physics in Geneva.

Related Material

Four Flaugergues manuscripts are held at The University of Wisconsin at Madison:
  • Memoire sur l'appulse de toutes les planèttes, le 15 septembre 1186, 2 pages, 1800;
  • Memoire sur le rapport du thermometer d'esprit de vin de M. de Réaumur avec le thermometer octogesimal au mercure, 10 pages, 1820;
  • Observations astronomiques choisies faites a Viviers pendant le cours del'année 1806, 16 pages, 1809;
  • Recherches experimentales sur le raport du thermometer à esprit de vin de M. de Réaumur avec le thermometer au mercure octogesimal, 71 pages, 1823.
The American Philosophical Society holds a microfiche copy of Flaugergues' L'Explication de l'arc-en-ciel, 122 pages, 1786, which won a prize in physics from the Société Royale des Sciences de Montpellier.

Index Terms


Astronomy--France--History--18th century
Astronomy--France--History--19th century
Science--France--History--18th century

Container List