Marie Pasteur

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Marie Pasteur, née Laurent (Clermont Ferrand, France, 15 January 1826 – Paris, 28 September 1910), was the scientific assistant and co-worker of her spouse, the famous French chemist and bacteriologist Louis Pasteur.


Marie Pasteur was one of the daughters of the Rector of the Strasbourg Academy. She married in Strasbourg 29 May 1849, aged 23, to Louis Pasteur, aged 26.

Marie worked as a secretary and science writer to her spouse and served as his amanuensis. She was his active assistant in his scientific experiments. She worked with him on expanding his first researches, around 1848, on the remarks previously made by Mitscherlich on the different optical properties concerning polarized light of tartaric acid when it came from natural wines, wine lees and when it was synthesized in a laboratory. The students and colleagues of Louis Pasteur acknowledged the importance she had for him in his work as his assistant. She grew the silkworms he needed for his experiment with their diseases, and she took care of the children he tried his famous experimental treatment on. She moved with him to his quarters at the Pasteur institute, and continued to live there after his death.

It seems that for years afterward, famous crystallographer, physicist and mathematician Jean Baptiste Biot, Madame Marie Pasteur and Louis' father, Jean Joseph cooperated in providing Louis with moral support. For instance, in a letter by Biot to Louis father: "your son is ours also and we share with Marie all our love for him, too". There was also philosopher Charles Chappuis in this support network around Louis.

Their eldest daughter, Jeanne, died from typhoid fever, aged 9, at Arbois. Then, in 1865, 2-year-old Camille also died of typhus, followed by 12-and-a-half-year-old Cécile on 23 May 1866. Only Jean Baptiste and Marie Louise lived to be adults. Jean Baptiste would be a soldier in the Franco-Prussian War between France and Prussia.

Marie Pasteur was buried in the crypt of the Institute Pasteur.