Life Story - Important dates
(See « Teilhard de Chardin » by Claude Cuénot, published by Editions Le Seuil, and « Pierre Teilhard de Chardin » by André Dupleix and Jules Carles, published by Editions Nouvelle Cité
The Making of a Mind: Born in Auvergne; Jesuit student in Jersey-Teacher of Physics and Chemistry in Cairo- Studied Theology in Hastings- Became interested in Evoluion- Work at the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle avec Marcellin Boule, where he began studying Human paleontology, Service as stretcher-bearer on the front during World War I- Scientific research and teaching
Exile in China and international scientific career: Plots the geological map of China - Became adviser to Chinese national geological department- Expedition in Central Asia- Pekin Man, Chou-Kou-Tien Sinanthropus- First essays on the Phenomenon of Man- « Croisière Jaune » expédition- In Ethiopia with Henry de Monfried-Yale-Cambridge expedition in India-Harvard-Carnegie expedition in Burma and Java-Life in Pekin during World War II-Return to France- South Africa with the Wenner-Gren Foundation-Goes to live permanently in the U.S.A. where he died in New York on Easter Sunday.
Born in 1881 in Auvergne, (France). His father, a collector of stones, insects and plants encouraged and developed his natural gift for observing Nature. When 11 years old he entered the Jesuit college at Mongré, Villefranche-sur-Saône, where he passed the Baccalauréat examination, sections philosophy and mathematics. In 1899 he entered Aix-en-Provence seminar to begin 13 years training as a Jesuit.
1881 Birth in Auvergne
Marie-Joseph Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the fourth child of a large family, was born on 1st May 1881 in Auvergne at Sarcenat castle, near Orcines in the region of Clermont Ferrand (France).He Hwas the fourth child of family with more than two children. His father, a collector of stones, insects and plants encouraged and developed his natural gift for observing Nature. When 11 years old he entered the Jesuit college at Mongré, Villefranche-sur-Saône where he passed the Baccalauréat examination, sections philosophy and mathematics. In 1899 he entered Aix-en-Provence seminar to begin 13 years training as a Jesuit .
1901 Jesuit student in Jersey
Owing toa new legislation in France under the 3rd Republic the young Jesuit students were obliged to leave their country in 1901 in order to continue their philosophical and theological studies in Jersey. In 1902, Teilhard graduated in literature at Caen University.
1905 Teacher of Physics and Chemistry in Cairo
From 1905 to 1908, he taught physics and chemistry in Cairo at the Jesuit College of the Holy Family. In Egypt he wrote of his « dazzling encounter » with the East, « perceived and eagerly absorbed.....in its lights, vegetation, wildlife and deserts »
.(See Letters from Egypt 1905 to 19O8, Editions Aubier)
1908 Theology in Hastings. Evolution
Teilhard studied theology in Hastings, Sussex (England) from 1908 to 1912, and made a coordinate summary of his scientific, philosophical and theological knowledge in the light of evolution. Henri Bergson’s »Creative Evolution » was to have the effect of a catalyst on « the fire already devouring his heart and mind ». He was ordained a priest on August 14th, 1911 at the age of 30.
, 1912 Work at the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle with Marcellin Boule. Human Paleontology
From 1912 to 1914, he worked in the paleontological laboratory at Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, à Paris, on mammals of the Middle and Lower Tertiary Age in Europe. Professor Marcellin Boule, specialist on Neanderthal Man, trained him in research on human paleontology. At the Institute of Human Paleontology, he became friendly with Henri Breuil with whom he took part in excavations in the caves containing prehistoric art in North-West Spain.
Lunch in Castillo Cave- 1913 (Spain)
1914- 1919 Stretcher Bearer in World War I - The Making of a Mind
Teilhard was called up in December 1914 and served throughout the war as a 2nd Class stretcher-bearer in the 8th regiment of the Moroccan infantry. He received several awards for bravery, including the Médaille Mlitaire and the Légion d’Honneur.
During the war years he developed his thinking in letters to his cousin Marguerite Teilhard-Chambon, who published them in a book called « The Making of a Mind ». He later admitted that war had been « a meeting....with the Absolute ». In 1916, he wrote his firt essay: « Cosmic Life », revealing his scientific and philosophical thinking as well as his religious life. He took his solemn vows as a Jesuit at Sainte Foy-les-Lyon on May 26, 1918 while on leave from the army. In August 1919 during a stay in Jersey he wrote « The Spiritual Energy of Matter ».
See « Genèse d’une Pensée » (letters from 1914 to 1918, published by Editions Grasset, France)
1920-1926 Research and Teaching
Teilhard graduated at the Sorbonne in the Natural Sciences, i.e. geology, botany and zoology. His thesis was entitled « French Lower Eocene Mammals and their Deposits ». He was appointed Lecturer at the Catholic Institute of Paris , then Assistant Professor after passing his Doctor’s degree in 1922.
He discovered China in 1923 with Father Emile Licent , Chief of an important laboratory working in collaboration with the Museum in Paris, and Marcellin Boule’s laboratory. Licent performed a considerable amount of fundamental research with the help of the missionaries who collected scientific data during their free time.
Teilhard wrote several papers, including « The Offering », (« la Messe sur le Monde ») in the desert of Ordos. He resumed teaching at the Catholic Institute the following year and gave a series of lectures to students in the great French colleges. A paper concerning his meditations on « original sin », addressed to theologians, was misunderstood. Teilhard consequently lost his professorship and was sent to China
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Exile in China and international scientific career
1926-1946 Exile in China..
A Geological map of China
Teilhard returned to China in April 1926 . He was to live there for twenty years during which time he travelled to several different parts of the world. He was based in Tientsin with Emile Licent until 1932, then in Pekin Between 1926 and 1935. Teilhard made five geological expeditions in China which enabled him to draw up the first general geological map of that country.
Together with scientifics colleagues in Chou-Kou-Tien(Zhoukoudian)
On the left side, Peï and Young, in center, two students, on the right side,
Black and Barbour - (1929)
1926-1927 after an unsuccessful campaign in the Kansu district, he travelled in the Sang-Kan-Ho valley near Kalgan and toured eastern Mongolia. He wrote « The Divine Milieu ».
1929 Adviser to the Chinese National Geological Departement
As adviser to the Chinese National Geological Department, he supervised the geological aspects of the work and non-human paleontology in the Chou-Kou-Tien excavations near Pekin. He stayed with Emile Licent in Manchuria, and made another stay in western and northern Shansi with the Chinese paleontologist C.C.Young.
Teilhard also drafted the first pages of his basic work « The Phenomenon of Man ».
1930 American Natural History Expedition to Central Asia
Tour of Manchuria in the Grand Khingan region with Chinese geologists. Participation in American Central Asia expedition in the Gobi Desert, organised by the American Museum of Natural History, with Roy Chapman Andrews. 1936 JAVA
Together with l'Abbé Breuil in Chou-kou-Tien (zhoukoudian) - may 1935
In 1940 he founded the Geo-biological Institute of Pekin with Pierre Leroy. In 1943, they together launched a magazine « Geobiologia ». The « Phenomenon of Man » was finished during this period. « Le Phénomène Humain » published in France - Editions du Seuil.
1931 The Sinanthropus
Breuil and Teilhard discovered that the Sinanthropus, or Pekin Man, of Chou-Kou-Tien closely related to the Pithecanthropus of Java, was a Homo Faber,i.e. he used fire and stone tools . Then aged 50 , Teilhard wrote the « Spirit of the Earth »
The american sculptor Lucile Swan in workshop in Pekin (1937)
1931-1932 The Croisière jaune
Teilhard took part in the famous Haardt-Citroën « Croisière
Jaune » expedition through Central Asia, to which he was attached
as scientist. At Kalgan, north-east of Pekin, he joined the Chinese group
who were to meet up with the other part of the team, the Pamir group, at
Aksu. He and his comrades were held prisoner for several months in Ouroumtsi,
capital of Sinkiang. The following year the Sino-Japonese war broke out.
In Gobi desert - Teilhard on the right side, holding a hammer. Citroën Centre Asie Expedition (1931)
1934-1935 Exploration in southern China
Teilhard went on several explorations to the south of China to establish links with Chou-Kou-Tien. He then toured the Yangtze and Szechouan valleys in 1934, followed by the Kwang-Tsi and Kwang Tong the year after. (»)
See Site « Teilhard de Chardin in China
...continuation of career as international scientist
Throughout the years, Teilhard, a tireless traveller, largely contributed to the organisation of an international paleo-anthropological research network, based mainly on on the Far- and South-Eastern parts of Asia. He was backed up in this work above all by two Anglo-Saxon friends of his, the Canadian, Davidson Black, and the Scotsman, George B Barbour. He made several halts and a few short stays in France and the United States, whence he set off for other expeditions.
George Barbour en 1934 à New York
1927-1928: Stay in France based on Paris. Trips to Louvain, also the Cantal and Ariège provinces.
1928 In Ethiopia with Henry de Monfried
1928-1929: Two-month interlude at Obock, Harra and Somaliland with Henry de Montfreid before embarking for Tientsin via Djibouti.
1930-1931: stays in France and U.S.A.. During one of his lectures in Paris, Teilhard states: « For the observers of the future, the biggest event will be the upsurge of a collective human conscience and with a job for humanity to do ».
1932-1933: Four months’ stay in France.
1935 Yale-Cambridge expedition to India
Teilhard took part in the Yale-Cambridge expedition to Southern and Central India with scientists de Terra and Patterson, working on their hypotheses regarding prehistoric India.
Short stay in Java on an invitation from Professor von Koenigsvald. A second more complete skull was discovered.
1937 : He wrote the « Spiritual Phenomenon » on board the ship taking him to the United States where he was to be awarded the Mendel Medal during a congress in Philadelphia. Makes a stay in France where he was unable to work due to ill heath. During his return voyage to Pekin, he wrote « Human Energy »
1937-1938 Harvard-Carnegie expedition to Burma
During the Harvard-Carnegie Expedition in Burma in which Teilhard took part, he met Helmut de Terra in the Irrawadi Valley, before leaving again on a final expedition to Java.
1938-1939: Period in France where he was hosted by the magazine « Etudes », intellectual centre of the Jesuits in Paris. He was able to resume his series of lectures and meetings. In June 1939, he went back to China via the United States where he stopped at the New York Natural History Museum to meet Professor Granger.
In 1940, he founded the Geo-biological Institute of Pekin with Pierre Leroy. In 1943, they together launched a magazine « Geobiologia ». The « Phenomenon of Man » was finihed during this period. « Le Phénomène Humain » published in France - Editions du Seuil
Le Phénomène humain - Editions du Seuil
1946 Return to France
Teilhard came back to France in May 1946 for five years, never to return to China. During this period he renewed contacts in the intellectual world and became friendly with Sir Julian Huxley (brother of Aldous Huxley), English zoologist and physiologist, first Director of Unesco (1947-1948). Teilhard was entirely wrapped-up in theoretical research, investigating anthropogenesis, the new science of the genetic structure of Humanity.
1947 International Conference on evolution
In April 1947 Teilhard took part in the international conference on Evolution at the Institute of Human Paleontology, National History Museum (Paris), attended by several of his scientist friends. In June a heart attack prevented him from going to South Africa. He was promoted officer of the Légion d’Honneur, section Foreign Affairs « considered in the fields of geology and paleontology as one of the glories of French science ».
1948: he renewed contacts with the American scientific world during a stay in the United States; had links with the Viking Fund; and stayed a while in Rome. The Catholic Church did not allow him to accept the professorship of paleontology at the Collège de France, to replace Abbé Breuil who had reached the age limit. Neither was he allowed to publish « The Phenomenon of Man »
1949: He finished « The Place of Man in Nature »
1950 Académie des sciences
He was elected a member of the French Academy of Siences, and rested for a while at his brother Joseph’s home, Château des Moulins, Neuville, where he received visits from several academics, philosophers and scientists. he finished « What I believe » and « The heart of matter », in fact his biography.
1951 First journey to South Africa then final move New-York
1951: during the Summer Teihard was asked by the Wenner-Gren Foundation to go to South Africa in order to study the possibility of financing anthropological research with South-African and Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) scientists. This was his first trip to South Africa to pursue investigations on australopithecus sites. As coordinator of research he wrote, « At the moment, as in the days of Galileo, we need, far more than new facts, a new way of seeing the facts. A new way of seeing and a new way of acting. He was then seventy years old, when he moved to New York for good. He continued his work with the Wenner Foundation.
1952 Journey to the west of the U.S.A.
He visited the large-scale cyclotrons at Berkeley University, and stopped off to visit the Glacial Park (Montana) on the way back.
1953 South Africa and Zimbabwe
Further trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe on behalf of the Wenner Foundation, which brought him in touch with several other specialists and scientists.
1954 Last stay in France
He stayed two months in France and saw his native home for the last time. Back in New York he defined the bases of his thought. His desire was to finish « In action and as a witness » (en geste, en témoignage)
1955 Death in New York on Easter Sunday
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote his last work « Le Christique » He died of a heart attack at the home of friends on April 10, 1955, Easter Sunday. The year before, he had confessed to friends at a dinner given by the French Consul « I would like to die on the day of the Resurrection »
Posthumous publication of the « Phenomenon of Man ». ".