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Ouvrage sur les Femmes:

An Inventory of Manuscripts, Transcripts, and Research Notes at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Harry Ransom Center
Title Ouvrage sur les Femmes: Manuscripts, Transcripts, and Research Notes
Dates: 1745-1987
Extent: 8 boxes (3.78 linear feet)
Abstract: The research notes, drafts, and fair copies written by Jean Jacques Rousseau and Louise Marie Madeline Fontaine Dupin were sold at a series of auctions held between 1951 and 1958, from which the Ransom Center acquired a major portion of Madame Dupin's work.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-03636
Languages English and French
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchase, 1967 (R 3506)
Processed by Bob Taylor, 1997

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketches

Jean Jacques Rousseau, one of the most influential French philosophical writers of the 18th century, was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1712. After a peripatetic and largely self-taught youth, Rousseau arrived in Paris in 1742. He quickly attracted the attention of Denis Diderot and was asked to contribute to the Encyclopédie. During the years between 1750 and 1762 he wrote those works of social and philosophical commentary for which he is best remembered-- Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, The New Eloise, Emile, and The Social Contract. In the latter year he fled France following his condemnation by the Parlement of Paris. Rousseau settled briefly in Britain under the protection of David Hume, but following their bitter disagreement he departed and returned to France in 1767. He spent his last years of increasing eccentricity writing his autobiographical Confessions. J. J. Rousseau died in Paris in 1778.
Louise Marie Madeline Fontaine Dupin was born in Paris on 28 October 1706 to Marie Anne Armande de Fontaine and the banker Samuel Bernard. In 1722 she married Claude Dupin; they had one son, Jacques Armand, born in 1727. Dupin's success as a "tax farmer" and government official enabled him to buy the chateau of Chenonceaux in 1733. At Chenonceaux Madame Dupin cultivated a salon of artists and writers, and, by the mid-1740s, formed the intention of writing the history of womankind. With the assistance of Rousseau she labored on this task for several years, before abandoning it about 1750. Madame Dupin continued to live at Chenonceaux following her husband's death in 1769, dying there shortly after dictating her will on 20 November 1799.
Dr. Leland Thielemann was a professor of French at the University of Texas at Austin for 20 years preceding his 1984 retirement. After receiving a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1950 he taught at the University of California at Los Angeles before coming to Austin. Dr. Thielemann specialized in 18th century French intellectual history and the Enlightenment, publishing in such journals as the Modern Language Quarterly and Diderot Studies. Before his death on 24 December 1987 Dr. Thielemann spent considerable time transcribing and organizing the Ransom Center's Rousseau materials.

Scope and Contents

In the years between 1745 and 1749 Jean Jacques Rousseau was employed by Louise Marie Madeline Dupin as a research assistant on her ambitious project to delineate in print the history of women. After years of labor by Rousseau and Madame Dupin her Ouvrage sur les Femmes was shelved, unfinished. The research notes, drafts, and fair copies written by Rousseau and his employer were stored at the chateau of Chenonceaux, essentially forgotten, until their sale at a series of auctions held between 1951 and 1958. As a result of these sales the Ransom Center acquired a major portion of Madame Dupin's stillborn work.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s the late Dr. Leland Thielemann of the University of Texas at Austin worked extensively with the Rousseau-Dupin archive. As a result of his efforts the Center's holdings have been brought into line with the arrangement suggested by Anicet Sénéchal in his 1963 bibliographical article in the Annales de la Société J.-J. Rousseau.
The archive of the Ouvrage sur les Femmes comprises three series: Draft and Notes (3 boxes), Dr. Thielemann's Transcriptions and Comments (2 boxes), and Dr. Thielemann's Research Notes (3 boxes).
The Draft and Notes series consists of abstracts from published works used as source materials, draft sections or chapters of the projected work, and fragments and copies of various sorts. This section is largely in the hand of Rousseau, with corrections and additions by Dupin. Leland Thielemann's Transcriptions and Comments, the second series, presents his renderings of the original manuscript material, with bibliographical comments and some conjectures. The final series embraces Dr. Thielemann's rough notes and early attempts to organize the Ransom Center's Rousseau-Dupin archive.

Series Descriptions

Index Terms


Dupin, Louise Marie Madeline Fontaine, 1707-circa 1800
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 1712-1778
Thielemann, Leland


Women--Social conditions--Early works to 1800

--Folder List