Louis Bergeron (1929 – 2014)

Louis Bergeron was a distinguished French scholar who did much to establish the value of the study of industrial heritage with international bodies such as ICOMOS and UNESCO. He was born in Strasbourg and studied at the École normale supérieure, graduating in 1951. He spent ten years teaching in high schools before returning to the École, by which time he was fluent in German, English and Italian.

He interest in Industrial Archaeology developed in the 1970s under the influence of the historian Maurice Daumas (1910-84). He began to advocate in use of field evidence in the study of industrial and economic history, an approach that was then novel. In 1971 he was appointed director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) where he ran the centre for historical research between 1986 and 1992. His own research was initially on the French Revolution and the Napeolonic Empire, but his later studies focussed more broadly on banks, business and the social and economic elites of the nineteenth century. He had a particular interest in Paris. In 1978 he was one of the founders of the Comité d’information et de liaison pour l’archéologie, l’étude et la mise en valeur du patrimoine industriel (CILAC) and was the organisation’s vice president from 1978. He was largely responsible for the fourth meeting of The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) at Lyon and Grenoble in 1981 which led to the setting up of a group responsible for establishing a national inventory of industrial heritage at the Ministry of Culture in 1984. He actively promoted research at the EHESS where he developed links with Francophone communities in other parts of the world, particularly with Quebec. He was president of the écomusée at Le Creusot between 1996 and 2000.

While president of TICCIH between 1990 and 2000 he achieved recognition of the organisation by ICOMOS and UNESCO which was confirmed at the organisation’s London conference in 2000. Amongst his many publications, two of the most important are Industrial Heritage: a new territory (with Grace Dorel-Ferré, 1996) and Luxury Industries in France (1998)