Education and early life
The house in which Pasteur was born, Dole
Louis Pasteur was born on December 27, 1822, in Dole, Jura, France, to a Catholic family of a poor tanner. He was the third child of Jean-Joseph Pasteur and Jeanne-Etiennette Roqui. The family moved to Marnoz in 1826 and then to Arbois in 1827. Pasteur entered primary school in 1831.
He was an average student in his early years, and not particularly academic, as his interests were fishing and sketching. He drew many pastels and portraits of his parents, friends and neighbors. Pasteur attended secondary school at the Collège d'Arbois. In October 1838, he left for Paris to join the
Pension Barbet, but became homesick and returned in November.
In 1839, he entered the Collège Royal at Besançon to study philosophy and earned his Bachelor of Letters degree in 1840. He was appointed a tutor at the Besançon college while continuing a degree science course with special mathematics. He failed his first examination in 1841. He managed to pass the baccalauréat scientifique (general science) degree in 1842 from Dijon but with a mediocre grade in chemistry.
Later in 1842, Pasteur took the entrance test for the École Normale Supérieure. He passed the first set of tests, but because his ranking was low, Pasteur decided not to continue and try again next year. He went back to the Pension Barbet to prepare for the test. He also attended classes at the Lycée Saint-Louis and lectures of Jean-Baptiste Dumas at the Sorbonne. In 1843, he passed the test with a high ranking and entered the École Normale Supérieure. In 1845 he received the licencié ès sciences (Master of Science) degree. In 1846, he was appointed professor of physics at the Collège de Tournon (now called
Lycée Gabriel-Faure ) in Ardèche, but the chemist Antoine Jérôme Balard wanted him back at the École Normale Supérieure as a graduate laboratory assistant (agrégé préparateur). He joined Balard and simultaneously started his research in crystallography and in 1847, he submitted his two theses, one in chemistry and the other in physics.
After serving briefly as professor of physics at the Dijon Lycée in 1848, he became professor of chemistry at the University of Strasbourg, where he met and courted Marie Laurent, daughter of the university's rector in 1849. They were married on May 29, 1849, and together had five children, only two of whom survived to adulthood; the other three died of typhoid.