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The founding of the Ecole normale supérieure (1794)


The Higher Normal School was created in Paris in 1794 during the French Revolution. On 9 Brumaire Year III, the Convention decreed that “ A Normal School will be established in Paris, to which would be called, from all parts of the Republic, citizens already educated in the useful sciences, to learn, under the most able teachers, the art of teaching.».

A school in tune with the times

In 1847, the School moved to rue d'Ulm, on the Sainte-Geneviève mountain, a few steps from the Sorbonne and the Collège de France. Very early on, the École normale supérieure housed elite research. In the middle of the 19th century, Louis Pasteur carried out his work within its walls. For decades, it was the center of French intellectual and scientific life. She takes part in all the great debates of ideas that modern France has known, from the Dreyfus affair to the movements of the 1930s, from the foundation of the human sciences to the avant-garde of the 1970s.

Excellence in the service of the State

It trains entire generations of servants of the State, ministers and senior officials, such as Victor Duruy, Jean Jaurès, Léon Blum or Georges Pompidou. In 1985, it merged with the École normale supérieure de jeunes filles, first installed in Sèvres, then in Paris boulevard Jourdan from 1940. The latter was created in 1881, one year after the Sée law (1880) opening secondary education for young girls, and three years before the creation of a female science aggregation (1884). In 2013, the École normale supérieure was spread over four sites and welcomed more than 2,700 pupils and students. Sixty master's degrees are offered and numerous partnerships with research centers have been set up. Among her former students, professors or researchers, she has Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, literature and economics, Fields medals and CNRS gold medals.

For further

- For a history of the École normale supérieure: archive sources (1794-1993), by Pascale Hummel. National Archives – Presses of the École normale supérieure, 1995.

- The École normale supérieure: the paths to freedom, by Nicole Masson. Gallimard, 1994.


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