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Marinette Bruwier 
Marinette Bruwier

Illustrious Women


Marinette Bruwier

- Women and University -

Marinette Bruwier was born in Mons on 7th February 1922. After completing her studies in history at the University of Liège, and obtaining her PhD in 1951, the thesis of which is titled: "Le domaine des comtes de Hainaut du début du Xe à la fin du XIIIe siècle" (unofficial translation: "The Domain of the Counts of Hainaut from the beginning of the tenth century to the end of the thirteenth century"), she became a lecturer at a business school in Mons (Institut supérieur de commerce de la province de Hainaut) on 4th October 1957. The Rector, Drechsel, asked her to replace Professor Arnould.

When she entered the classroom for the first time, she wasn't surprised to read this troublesome scrawl on the board: "Marinette au bordel !". Her reaction? The challenge in her eyes and intonation was clear as she told us the story: These brats will see what they see!

She taught economic history of the nineteenth century, particularly in the Borinage (an area in the Walloon province of Hainaut in Belgium), and ruled her students with an iron fist that was even more daunting for female students.

As the first female professor at "Warocqué", a member of the Board of Directors of the State University of Mons (1971-1983), Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences of the State University of Mons (1974-1978), and finally Vice-Rector of the State University of Mons (1977-1981), Marinette Bruwier wanted to be referred to as Madam Dean and Madam Vice-Rector - just like the men!


Denise-Déborah Lehmann

- Ill-fated teacher and poet -

Denise

Denise-Déborah Lehmann (Liège, 1908 – Auschwitz, 1944), daughter of a rabbi, pursued studies in Germanic philology at the University of Liège. She taught in Tournai but had to leave her position as professor at the Normal School (today known as a teacher training college) on 31st December 1940 and renounce all social activities, such as going to concerts, listening to the radio, going out at night, etc. Lehmann was arrested by the Gestapo in Brussels on 1st June 1944 and was taken to the Mechelen concentration camp the next day. She was released on the 29th June 1944 as a result of procedures that attempted to save her friends and former teachers, supported by an intervention of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Unfortunately, she was arrested again on 12th July and was deported to Auschwitz on 29th July. Using the name Déborah Del Perez (Del Perez was one of her family names), Denise Lehmann published some beautiful poems.

Refer to the following article by Catherine Gravet: "Denise Lehmann, Deborah Del Perez: un destin brisé" (unofficial translation: "A Blighted Fate") in "Mémoires et Publications de la Société des Sciences, des Arts et des Lettres du Hainaut", n° 107, p. 55-110.


Cécile Douard

- Women and the Arts -

 

When Cecile Douard, whose real name was Cecile Leseine (Rouen, 1866 - Brussels, 1941), moved to Mons, she attended the School of Marie Popelin and the Auguste Danse workshop that offered classes in drawing; recommended by Jean-François Portaels, she became a pupil of Antoine Bourlard, Director of the Academy of Fine Arts in Mons (closed to girls until 1911) and managed to get her own workshop.

Cécile Douard’s time spent in Mons (1883-1904) was filled with artistic richness: the rugged industrial landscapes of the Borinage and hard-working women, burnt-out long before old age from working every day in the mines, inspired her. Her favourite subjects were mine-haulage girls pushing mine carts in mines and harvesters of coal from slag heaps. As a living, she taught young girls from wealthy families how to draw and produced portraits of important people of Mons. She started to go blind in 1898. She then dedicated her time to learning to play the violin, working in sculpture and, soon after, expressing herself through writing. Cécile Douard was actively involved in the Ligue Braille from its creation in 1922 and chaired it from 1926 until 1937.

Refer to Assunta Bianchi’s article, “Le charbon au coeur du Hainaut industriel”  (unofficial translation: “Coal in the Heart of Industrial Hainaut”) under the direction of Catherine Gravet, Mons & Hainaut. 2013, p. 147.


Marguerite Mathilde Rouneau

- Women and Technical Roles -

Marguerite Mathilde Rouneau was born on 7th October 1922. Registration records of the former Faculty of Engineering of Mons (FPMs) informs us that her father, a chief railway guard, was called Albert. They lived at: Rue Léon Save, 6, in Mons.

Marguerite Rouneau graduated as an electro-mechanical engineer with the grade “grande distinction” on 20th July 1946. Il She is the second woman to have graduated from this institution, after après Marcelle Yernaux, daughter of the Administrator-Director Jules Yernaux, who graduated the year before.  

There are no more records of her after she started working at a laboratory near Brussels; charitable souls welcomed her choice: she would not have to give orders to the workers. Marguerite De Grauw-Rouneau lived in Brussels in 1963 (Avenue G. E. Lebon).

Here is the first page of her report for the work placement  she carried out at Soudure électrique autogène (Arcos) in Brussels:


Claire Lejeune

- Women and Literature -

Born in Havré in 1926, Claire Lejeune made her literary debut on 9th January 196. Falling in love led her to poetic writing and philosophy.

In poetry collections, she first expressed an atheological thought about mystical accents (1963-1972). From a feminist stay in Quebec emerged an initial test, L'Atelier (1979), which brought together some key proposals for the a developed idea: “introduction du tiers que la raison duelle exclut, altérité du « je », rejet du patriarcat autocrate et du matriarcat abusif, remplacement de la patrie-matrie par la fratrie.”

She then addressed the theatre: Ariane Ariane and Don Juan or Le Désastre (The Disaster) (1997) offered a new male/female dialogue.

Meanwhile, in 1962, she founded “Les Cahiers internationaux de symbolisme”, then, in 1965, “Réseau”, two magazines that, in 1971, became the publications of the UMONS Centre interdisciplinaire d’études philosophiques (CIÉPHUM).

 

From 1970, from Quebec to Japan, she also exposed her “photograph-isms" obtained by the solarisation of negative prints. She was elected to the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature of Belgium in 1997.