Le Play, Pierre Guillaume Frederic
LE PLAY, PIERRE GUILLAUME FREDERIC (1806-1882), French engineer and economist, was born at La Riviere-Saint-Sauveur (Calvados) on the nth of April 1806, the son of a custom-house official. He was educated at the Ecole Polytechnique, and from there passed into the State Department of Mines. In 1834 he was appointed head of the permanent committee of mining statistics, and in 1840 engineer-in-chief and professor of metallurgy at the school of mines, where he became inspector in 1848. For nearly a quarter of a century Le Play spent his vacations travelling in the various countries of Europe, and collected a vast quantity of material bearing upon the social condition of the working classes. In 1855 he published Les Ouvriers europeens, which comprised a series of thirty-six monographs on the budgets of typical families selected from the most diverse industries. The Academic des Sciences conferred on him the Montyon prize. Napoleon III., who held him in high esteem, entrusted him with the organization of the Exhibition of 1835, and appointed him counsellor of state, commissioner general of the Exhibition of 1867, senator of the empire and grand officer of the Legion of Honour. He died in Paris on the sth of April 1882.
In 1856 Le Play founded the Societe Internationale des etudes pratiques d'Economie sociale, which has devoted its energies principally to forwarding social studies on the lines laid down by its founder. The journal of the society, La Reforme sociale, founded in 1881, is published fortnightly. Other works of Le Play are La Reforme sociale (2 vols., 1864; 7th ed., 3 vols., 1887); L Organisation de la famille (1871); La Constitution de I'Angleterre (in collaboration with M. Delaire, 1875). See article in Harvard Quarterly Journal of Economics (June 1890), by H. Higgs.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)