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Julienite - Henri Julien

Last Updated: 1st Jan 2014

By Herwig Pelckmans

According to multiple (internet) sources, the mineral julienite was named after the Belgian scientist Henri Julien.

The original Dutch description by Schoep in 1928 however (entitled Over Juliëniet, een nieuw mineraal (= About julienite, a new mineral)), does not mention the nationality of the person the mineral was named for. The only things mentioned regarding Julien are:

Daarom is er de naam Juliëniet (op voorstel van den Heer Vanden Brande) aan gegeven ter nagedachtenis van Henri Julien, licencié ès sciences, den 1 december 1920 te Kambove gestorven, in Katanga, waar hij het materiaal verzamelde voor zijn proefschrift tot het verkrijgen van den graad van doctor in de natuurwetenschappen aan de Sorbonne te Parijs.

Translated here for your convenience:
That is why the name julienite (at the proposal of Mister Vanden Brande) has been given in memory of Henri Julien, licentiate in sciences, who died December 1st, 1920, at Kambove in Katanga, where he collected the material for his dissertation to receive his PhD in natural sciences at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Contrary to what most people would assume from reading the above, it was not Julien who collected the type material of julienite. The first sentences of the original description by Schoep state clearly:

Het mineraal waarvan de beschrijving volgt is uit Katanga teruggebracht door den Heer Vanden Brande, van den geologischen dienst van het ‘Comité Special du Katanga’. Het is door hem gevonden te Chamibumba, ongeveer 10 Km. ten Zuiden van Kambove.

The mineral whose description will follow was brought back from Katanga by Mister Vanden Brande, from the geological survey of the 'Comité Special du Katanga'. It was found by him at Chamibumba, about 10 km south of Kambove.

So it is Pierre Vanden Brande who discovered the type material of julienite and who gave it to Schoep for further research. Even though I did not find written proof, I think there is little doubt that Vanden Brande met Julien when they were both working in Katanga. Their encounter (encounters?) and the unexpected death of Julien were most probably instrumental for the proposal made by Vanden Brande to Schoep, to name the new mineral julienite.

Since Pierre Vanden Brande was born in Belgium, and a lot of Belgians were working in Katanga in the 1920s, it is frequently assumed that Julien was a Belgian scientist connected to the Sorbonne at that time. He could however also very well be a French (or even a Canadian) scientist.

More so, since Schoep did not specify the kind of material Julien was collecting in Katanga (see above), it is not even known today if he was a mineralogist or a geologist. He could also very well be a botanist or any other kind of natural scientist.

In the excellent book Minerals with Belgian Roots (Van Der Meersche et al., 2010) is mentioned on page 15:

In-depth inquiries [...] provided contradictory information about the nationality of Henri Julien [...] .

Even today, nothing more than the above is known for sure about Henri Julien. So, can anybody shed a better light on this intriguing gentleman?
Any input will be highly appreciated.

Herwig Pelckmans, Belgium

2014, January 1:
Thanks to Johan Kjellman (Sweden), who provided me with a lot of references to Henri Julien, I am now able to provide the following information:

Henri Julien was born in France in 1887. He was one of the children of Pierre-Alphonse Julien (1838-1905), who in 1875 became the first professor of geology and mineralogy at the university of Clermont-Ferrand (Auvergne, France).

Henri studied natural sciences and earned his Diplôme d'Études Supérieurs ("certificate of higher studies") in 1911 (after working on the zeolites of the lavas of Limagne (?)). He wanted to become a geologist like his father, but due to a weak health, he died at the age of 33. At that time, he was a member of a mission in Katanga organized by the Comité Special du Katanga.

Article has been viewed at least 2494 times.


Hello Herwig,

I think you know this by now, but apparently, Dr. V. Billiet (the guy Billietite was named after?) made an anouncement about Julienite at the 25th Flemish Natural & Medical Science Congress in Leuven on Sunday 15 April 1928.
Professor Schoep himself could not be present at the time.
See (Julien/Julienite is mentioned on pages 39, 41, 66, 67, 202 and 203 of the PDF)

Vik Vanrusselt
31st Dec 2013 2:18pm
Hi Vik,

Yes, I did read that info. Thanks for posting the link to a digital version of the original description.

Meanwhile I received a lot of information about Henri Julien from Johan Kjellman (Sweden). I will update my article ASAP.

Cheers, Herwig

Herwig Pelckmans
1st Jan 2014 8:27am
Thanks for an interesting article.
Information is so easily lost!

Dave Crosby
2nd Jan 2014 4:16pm

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