Armorican massif, c. 1930

Special Collections


Printed books, manuscripts, maps, iconographic documents (glass plates, slides, prints)

The geographer Albert Demangeon (1872-1940), studied under Paul Vidal de La Blache at the École normale supérieure, at the same time as Emmanuel de Martonne. His thesis on Picardy, defended in 1905, is regarded as a model of French regional geography. He wrote a dozen works, as well as ten school textbooks, a hundred articles and nearly a thousand reports and reviews, gradually establishing an academic reputation and finally succeeding Jean Brunhes, in 1930, as the leading authority in human geography in France.

His son-in-law, Aimé Perpillou (1902-1976), after defending a thesis in physical geography on the Limousin region, led a brilliant academic career culminating in the chair of geography at the Sorbonne, formerly occupied by his father-in-law. Secretary-General of the Société de géographie in 1947, he became its president in 1975, a year before he died.

In 1979, the children of Aimé Perpillou and Suzanne Demangeon wished to give the Mazarine Library their father and grandfather's library and archives, an exceptional collection covering three quarters of a century of the history of French geography.

These 7,000 volumes, including many brochures or reprints by foreign geographers, have been fully described in the Library's main catalogue (special collection Demangeon-Perpillou). Kept in the CTL (Book Technical Centre) for conservation reasons, they can be consulted at the Mazarine within 48 hours of request.

The manuscript collection contains mainly files of working documents, notes, manuscripts of books or articles by Albert Demangeon and Aimé Perpillou. It also includes private records of the Demangeon and Perpillou families and some of the records of the Wallon family of which Mrs Madame Louise Demangeon was a member. A large iconographic collection, started by Demangeon and continued by Perpillou, includes over 2,000 glass plates, slides and prints. The scientific documents are freely available, consultation of the private family archives is restricted until 1 January 2030. Albert Demangeon's scientific papers (including the glass plates of his geographical documentation), which were inventoried by Denis Wolff, the author of a thesis on Albert Demangeon, are fully described in Calames ; Aimé Perpillou's scientific papers are currently being processed. The part of Wallon's papers concerning Henri-Alexandre Wallon (1812-1904) is also described in Calames.

Denis Wolff, « Albert Demangeon (1872-1940). Sources et bibliographie », Cybergeo, n°315, 5 juillet 2005 [en ligne :].

Un géographe de plein vent : Albert Demangeon (1872-1940). Paris : Bibliothèque Mazarine ; Editions des Cendres, 2018.