Forerunners in Europe (1951-1964)
During a visit to France in 1951, Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin gave thought to the manuscripts that were his life's work and to what would happen to them after his death. Seventy years old, in delicate health and about to set out on a field trip to the Transvaal in South Africa, he was torn with inner conflict. Loyalty to the Jesuit Order was the deepest of his commitments, but he knew that if the essays were to become the property of the Society, they would be buried in its archives. They challenged current ideas of God, man, and the universe. A solution presented itself when a canon lawyer advised that they might legitimately be left to a lay person. Mlle. Jeanne Mortier, who had devotedly kept his papers in order for many years, was the obvious choice. In a simple, hastily written note, Teilhard appointed her his literary legatee.
When Teilhard died in New York City, April 10, 1955, Mlle. Mortier, together with a number of Teilhard's family, friends and former colleagues, set up a committee to arrange publication of his writings. Thus the Association des Amis de Pierre Teilhard de Chardin came into being. It was located at 12, rue le l'abbé-Gregoire, Paris, VI.
Several committees were set up under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Marie-Jose of France:
A Directing Committee consisted of Professor Jean Piveteau (the Sorbonne), President; Comte Max-Henri de Begouen, Vice-president; Mlle. Jeanne Mortier, Secretary.
An Administrative Council was composed of Msgr. Bruno de Solages, M. Claude Cuénot, M. Jean de Beer, and M. André Selon.
A Committee to advise on the publication of Teilhard's work included many distinguished scholars, scientists, and literary figures, among whom were Dr. George Barbour, Abbe Henri Breuil, Prince Louis de Broglie, Dr. Julian Huxley, M. Andre Malraux, M. Leopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, Dr. Arnold Toynbee, and members of Teilhard's family.
In 1964 the Fondation Teilhard de Chardin was established with headquarters in the Musée de l'Homme,38, rue Geoffrey-St. Hilaire, Paris, V. Here there was an office, a library, a museum, archives containing all of Teilhard's writings, and a study room for research. Its stated purpose was to conserve the manuscripts bequeathed by Teilhard, to collect all works emanating from him and concerning him, to make these writings available to authors and students, to publish Teilhard's work and to defend his thought, to promote the study, diffusion, application and extension of his thought by meetings, lectures, congresses, prizes and publication.
The Foundation also served as a center for a growing number of affiliated associations and study groups not only in France but throughout the world as well. By 1964 there was the Teilhard de Chardin Gesellshaft in Munich and The Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Association of Great Britain and Ireland in London. Also, though unaffiliated with Paris, there was the Centre Belge Teilhard de Chardin in Brussels.