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Chevallier, Jean-Baptiste-Alphonse

Chevallier, Jean-Baptiste-Alphonse

(b. Langres, France, 19 July 1793; d. paris, France, 29 November 1879),

chemistry, pubilic health

Chevallier’s claim to fame rests on his successful application of chemical expertise to a variety of public health problems, such as food and drug adulteration, industrial hygiene, toxicology, and disinfection.

Coming to Paris as a youth, he worked as a laboratory assistant to Vauquelin and Laugier at the Museum of Natural History, then as an intern in hospital pharmacy, and later became the owner of his own pharmacy. In 1835 Chevallier decided to have the practice of pharmacy to accept a teaching postion at the École de Pharmacie and to establish a private analytical laboratory, where he also gave instruction. By this time his numerous publications and his active role in public health had brought him wide recognition. This was reflected in his election to the Academy of Medicine in 1824 and his appointment in 1831 to the Council on Hygiene and Health of the Seine department.

The volume of Chevallier’s publications was prodigious. In addition to numerous books his articles, numbering in the hundreds, appeared in many journals, such as Journal de chimie medicale, de pharmacie et de toxicologie; Annales d’ hygiène publique et de médecine légale; and Journal de pharmacie et de chimie Chevallier was frequently in demand as an expert chemist in judicial proceeding; he collaborated with persons prominent in toxicology and forensic medicine, such as Orfila, Barruel, Lassaigne, Bayard, Flandin, Lesueur, and Charles-Proper Olliver. As for his contributions to public health, these were embodied in a multitude of memoirs, reports, and monographs dealing with such diverse subjects as safeguarding workers and consumers against toxic substances, disinfection with chlorine compounds, chemical detection of adulterated foods and drugs, and many other related problems. Chevallier’s Dictionnaire des alterations et falsifications des substances alimentaires, medicamenteuses et commerciales (1850–1852) was the most important work of its kind to appear in France.


1.Original Works. Probably the most influential of all Chevallier’s publications was his Dictionnaire des altérations et falsifications des substances alimentaires, medicamenteuses et commerciales, 2 vols. (Paris, 1850–1852, and many subsiquent eds.). Of his longer works, the following are of particular interest: Traité élémentaire des réactifs… (Paris, 1822; 2nd ed., 1825; 3rd ed., 1829), written with A. Payen; L’art de preparer les chlorures de chaux, de soude et de potasse… (Paris, 1829); Dictionnaire des drogues simples et composées…, 5 vols. (Paris, 1868). For a comprehensive listing of Chevallier’s publications, see A. Goris, Centenaire de l’internat en pharmacie des hôpitaux et hospices civils de Paris (Paris, 1920), pp. 300–316, and the secondary literature cited below.

II.Secondary Literature. G. Sicard, Notice sur la vie et les travaux de M. Jean-Baptiste-Alphonse Chevallier… (Paris, 1880), contains a bibliography of Chevallier’s publications compiled by his son, A. Chevallier fils, for the period 1822–1862 and a supplementary list by Sicard for the period 1863–1879. See also, T. Gallard, “Alphonse Chevallier,” in Annales d’hygiene publique et de medecine legale, 3rd ser., 3 (1880), 181–187.

Alex Berman

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