Boué, Ami

views updated

Boué, Ami

(diminutive of Amédée )

(b. Hamburg, Germany, 16 March 1794; d. Vöslau, Austria, 21 November 1881)


Boué’s father, Jean-Henri, was a shipbuilder and shipowner; his mother, Suzanne de Chapeaurouge, was the daughter of an Alsatian merchant who had settled in Hamburg. Orphaned at the age of eleven, he was taken in by relatives in Geneva and later went to Paris, where he was educated by an uncle, Antoine Odier, a banker. He showed no particular interest in either business or bookkeeping, and convinced his relatives that he should not enter the family shipping business. He also had no inclination for the intricacies of the law, and he therefore interrupted his legal studies (which his uncle had urged him to begin) when, at the age of twenty, he came into an inheritance.

Boué decided at the beginning of 1814 to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh and learned English. Through the influence of one of his teachers, the mineralogist Robert Jameson, he became interested in geology and botany, which he studied while traveling throughout Scotland. In 1815 he published in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal an unsigned article on a crystallized hyacinth found in gneiss along the Caledonian Canal. On 15 September 1817, he received the M.D. after having defended a thesis on the botanical geography of Scotland.

Although Boué continued his medical studies in Paris (1818–1819), Berlin (1820), and Vienna (1821), he decided to devote himself exclusively to geology and traveled through the Auvergne, the south of France, and almost all of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. His Essai geologique sur l’Écosse, dedicated to Jameson, appeared in 1820. Two years later he published “Mémoire géologique sur l’Allemagne.” His observations on the geology of Germany were completed in Geognotisches Gemälde von Deutschland (1829), in which he discussed the ages of the various mountain chains.

In 1830 Boué went to Paris and, with his friends Constant Prevost, Paul Deshayes, and Jules Desnoyers, founded the Société Géologique de France, of which he became president in 1835. In 1830–1831, in collaboration with Jobert and Claude Rozet, he published Journal de géologie, followed by Mémoires géologiques et paléontologiques in 1832. Boué expressed his views on geological controversies with complete candor, and he did not fail to criticize the authorities whenever he felt they were wrong. Thus, he reproved Cuvier for having refused (1823) to acknowledge the age of the human skeleton he had found among fossil mammal remains at the base of the loess at Lahr (near Strasbourg). He also censured Elie de Beaumont for his daring theory on the pentagonal network.

From 1830 to 1834 Boué published bibliographical notices on geological progress in foreign countries in the Bulletin de la Société géologique de France. In 1833, when Paul-Émile Botta published his “Observations sur et Liban et l’Anti-Liban,” Boué remarked in a note to the article that, according to the fossils sent back by the author, the three stages distinguished in Lebanon correspond to the Lower Cretaceous, greensand, and Jurassic limestone.

In 1835 Boué left Paris for Vienna, just after the first volume of his Guide du géologue-voyageur, sur le modèle de l’Agenda geognostica de M. Léonhard had been published. (Leonhard’s work was published in 1829.) Boué expanded the subject considerably, discussing preparations and preliminary instructions for geological trips, physical geography, and various aspects of geology.

In 1836, 1837, and 1838 Boué made three trips to European Turkey to study the resources of the country and its people. La Turquie d’Europe was published in 1840.

When he returned to Austria, Boué bought property at Vöslau, where during the summer he worked in his gardens and vineyards. In 1845 his synthesis of geological knowledge, Essai de carte géologique du globe terrestre, was published. He was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences of Vienna in 1849.


Boué’s principal publications are Dissertatio inauguralis de methodo floram cujusdam conducendi, exemplis é flora Scoticâ, etc., ductis, illustrata (Edinburgh, 1817); Essai giologique sur l’Écosse (Paris, n.d. [1820]) “Mémiore géologique sur l’Allemagne,” in Journal de physique, dechimie et d’histoire naturelle, 94 (1822), 297–312, 345–378; 95 (1822), 31–48, 88–112, 173–200, 275–304; “Allgemeine geologische Beobachtungen über die Entstehung der Gebirge Schottlands,” in Taschenbuch für die gesammte Mineralogie von Karl Cäsar Leonhard (Frankfurt, 1823), pp. 239–362; Geognotisches Gemälde von Deutschland mit Rucksicht auf die Gebirgsbeschaffenheit nachvarlicher Staaten (Frankfurt, 1829); “Des progrés de la géologie,” in Bulletin de la Société géologique de France, 1 (1831), 71–75, 94–97, 105–124; Journal de géologie, 3 vols. (Paris, 1830–1831); “Résumé des progrès de la géologie en 1831.” in Bulletin de la Société geologique de France, 2 (1832), 133–218; Mémoiresgéologiques et paléontogiques (Paris, 1832); “Résumé des progrèss de la géologie, et de quelques unes de ses principales applications, pendant l’année 1832.” in Bulletin de la Société géologique de France, 3 (1833), ii-clxxxviii; “Résumé des progès des sciences geologique pendant l’année 1833,” ibid., 5 (1834): Guide du géologue-voyageur, sur le modéle de l’Agenda geognstica de M. Léonard, 2 vols. (Paris, 1835–1836); La Turquie d’Europe…. 4 vols. (Paris, 1840); Essai de carte géolopgique du globe terrestre (Paris, 1845); Der ganze Zweck und der hohe Nutzen der Geologie in allgemeiner und in specieller Rücksicht auf die Oesterreichischen Staaten und ihre Völker (Vienna, 1851); Sur l’ètablissement de bonnes routes et surtout de chemins defer dans la Turquite d’Europe (Vienna, 1852); and Ueber die Nothwendigkeit einer Reform des bergmännischen Unterrichtes in Österreich… (Vienna, 1869).

A secondary source is Franz Ritter von Hauer, “Zur Erinnerung an Dr. Ami Boué,” in Jahrbuch der Kaiserlich Königlichen geologischen Bundestalt (Vienna), 32 (1882), 1–6.

Arthur Birembaut

About this article

Boué, Ami

Updated About content Print Article