This book is based on original sources, the vast bulk of them unedited manuscripts written in French. Unless indicated otherwise, all translations are my own. The main cache of papers regarding the metric expedition of 1792–99 is located in the E2 series of the archives of the Observatoire de Paris. Important additional Delambre papers are located in the Bibliothèque de l’Institut National, the library of Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, and the Karpeles Museum in Santa Barbara, California, as well as in holdings in Amiens, New York, London, and Utrecht. Important additional Méchain papers are located in the Biblioteca Universitaria di Pisa and in the Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen, as well as in holdings in Laon, Milan, and Madrid. Other valuable papers on these two savants, on their contemporaries, and on the metric system in general can be found in the archives of the Academy of Sciences in Paris, as well as in dozens of additional major and minor archives and libraries in Paris, the French provinces, and throughout the world. Below I list those institutions where I found the documents cited in the endnotes and the acronyms and other abbreviations I use when citing them. Following each citation of an archival source, I provide the carton reference number for scholars who wish to locate that document. I want to thank the archivists and librarians who assisted me with my research, and especially the staff of the interlibrary loan office at Northwestern University.

As the endnotes stick closely to the material presented in the text, I would like to acknowledge several key intellectual debts here. The foremost historian of metrology is the great Polish economic historian Witold Kula, whose book Measures and Men, translated by R. Szreter (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986) helped me to formulate the argument of this book, although I differ with him in my conclusions. My thinking on political economy has been shaped by the work of Karl Polyani, whose The Great Transformation (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1944) is a neglected and sometimes baffling classic. In the past decade a new approach to the history of science has transcended the simplistic division between technical histories and contextual studies. The most helpful works on the intersection of the exact sciences and social-cultural values have been the writings of Lorraine Daston, Simon Schaffer, Steven Shapin, M. Norton Wise, and especially Theodore Porter, whose Trust in Numbers: Objectivity in Science and Public Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995) has inspired me time and again. For general histories of the metric system, no one has yet surpassed two rather dated works from the beginning of the twentieth century: Guillaume Bigourdan, Le système métrique des poids et mesures (Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1901), and Adrien Favre, Les origines du système métrique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1931). The one strong recent treatment is the wry article by John L. Heilbron, “The Measure of Enlightenment,” in The Quantifying Spirit in the Eighteenth Century, Tore Frängsmyr, John L. Heilbron, and Robin E. Rider, eds. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 207–42. My own analysis of the political and economic significance of the metric system can be found in Ken Alder, “A Revolution to Measure: The Political Economy of the Metric System,” in The Values of Precision, M. Norton Wise, ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 39–71.

Abbreviations of Archives and Libraries

AAS = Archives de l’Académie des Sciences, Paris

ADAu = Archives Départementales de l’Aude, Carcassonne

ADC = Archives Départementales du Cher, Bourges

ADPO = Archives Départementales des Pyrénées-Orientales, Perpignan

ADSe = Archives Départementales de la Seine, Paris

ADSM = Archives Départementales de Seine-et-Marne, Melun

ADSo = Archives Départementales de la Somme, Amiens

ADT = Archives Départementales du Tarn, Albi

AHAP = Archives Historiques de l’Archevêché de Paris, Paris

AMAE = Archives du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Paris

AMSD = Archives Municipales de Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis

AML = Archives Municipales, Lagny

AMNM = Archivos del Museo Naval de Madrid, Madrid

AN = Archives Nationales, Paris

AOAB = Archivio dell’Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, Milan

AOP = Archives de l’Observatoire de Paris, Paris

APS = American Philosophical Society Library, Philadelphia

BA = Bibliothèque de l’Arsénal, Paris

BEP = Bibliothèque de l’Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau

BI = Bibliothèque de l’Institut de France, Paris

BL = Bureau des Longitudes, Paris

BLL = British Library, London

BLUC = Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

BMA = Bibliothèque Municipale d’Amiens, Amiens

BMC = Bibliothèque Municipale de Carcassonne, Carcassonne

BMCF = Bibliothèque Municipale de Clermont-Ferrand, Clermont-Ferrand

BML = Bibliothèque Municipale de Laon, Laon

BMR = Bibliothèque Municipale de Reims, Reims

BMSD = Bibliothèque Municipale de Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis

BN = Bibliothèque Nationale, Tolbiac, Paris

BNR = Bibliothèque Nationale, Richelieu, Manuscripts, Paris

BNRC = Bibliothèque Nationale, Richelieu, Cartes, Paris

BUP = Biblioteca Universitaria di Pisa, Pisa

BVCS = Bibliothèque Victor-Cousin, Sorbonne, Paris

BYU = Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

CNAM = Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris

CUL = Lavoisier Collection, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

CUS = David Eugene Smith Collection, Columbia University, New York

DLSI = Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

ENPC = Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, Paris

KBD = Kongelige Bibliotek of Denmark, Copenhagen

KM = Karpeles Museum, Santa Barbara, California

NL = Newberry Library, Chicago

NYPL = Rare Books and Manuscripts, New York Public Library, New York

SBB = Staatsbibliotek Berlin, Berlin

SHAT = Service Historique des Armées de Terre, Vincennes UBL = Universiteitsbibliotheek Utrecht, Utrecht

WL = Wellcome Library, London

Abbreviations of Serial Works

AP = Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860; recueil complet des débats législatifs et politiques des chambres françaises. First series, 1789 to 1799. Paris: Dupont, 1875–.

AP2 = Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860; recueil complet des débats législatifs et politiques des chambres françaises. Second series, 1800 to 1860. Paris: Dupont, 1862–1913.

ASPV = Académie des Sciences, Procès-verbaux des séances de l’Académie tenues depuis la fondation de l’Institut jusqu’au mois d’août 1835. Hendaye, Basse-Pyrénées: Imprimerie de l’Observatoire d’Abbadia, 1910–1922.

CR = Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des Sciences. Sessions since 1835. Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1835–1965.

CT = Connaissance des temps ou des mouvements célestes, pour le méridien de Paris, à l’usage des astronomes et des navigateurs. Paris, 1766–. Exact title and publisher varies. After 1795, edited by the Bureau des Longitudes.

HAS = Académie des Sciences, Histoire de l’Académie des Sciences. Paris: 1666–1792.

MAS = Académie des Sciences, Mémoires de l’Académie des Sciences. Paris: 1666-1792.

MC = F.-X. von Zach, ed., Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erdund Himmels-Kunde. Gotha: Beckersche, 1800–1813.

MI = Académie des Sciences, Mémoires de l’Institut. Paris: 1795-1815.

Moniteur = Moniteur universelle, [also known as Gazette nationale]. Paris: Agasse, 1789–1810.

PVCIP = James Guillaume, ed., Procès-verbaux du Comité d’Instruction Publique de la Convention Nationale. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1891–1907.

RACSP = François-Alphonse Aulard, ed., Recueil des actes du Comité de Salut Public. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1889–1951.

Abbreviations of Institutions

ATPM = Agence Temporaire des Poids et Mesures

CIP = Comité d’Instruction Publique de la Convention Nationale

CPM = Commission des Poids et Mesures

Dépt. = Département

Min. Aff. Etr. = Ministère des Affaires Etrangères

Min. Int. = Ministère de l’Intérieur

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