Content inventory

1. Istrumenti relativi alla famiglia Bassi, 1591-1776

This series (boxes 1 and 2) includes the deeds, in chronological order, that pertain to the Bassi family. They were found together with the Veratti family deeds; since there was no original arrangement [see "Methodological Notes"], they were divided into two separate series. Then all the Bassi documents were gathered, from the oldest down to those referring to the last male heir Carlo Filippo, the priest, who passed on his possessions to his cousin Laura in 1738 [see box 2, item 31]; those directly referring to Laura Bassi were excluded because she was considered a Veratti following her marriage to Giuseppe Veratti. To a large extent, the deeds refer to the legacy of Paolo Cremonini who, by his will dated 28th February 1717 and codicils of 13th January 1720, made his daughter Angela's descendants—both male and female—his heirs. He also stipulated that, should Angela’s hereditary line—through her marriage to Antonio Raggi—become extinct, Giuseppe Frascaroli and his children would step in and, in the event that hereditary line should also go extinct, Giuseppe's sisters—Antonia Maria, Caterina and Rosa Frascaroli—and their children would inherit, and so forth. When Angela Cremonini Raggi and Giuseppe Frascaroli died childless, the three Frascaroli sisters became the heirs, and the last of them, Rosa, shared in the inherited property with her nephew Carlo Filippo Bassi, the son of her sister, Antonia Frascaroli, and Giacomo Bassi, the uncle by marriage of Laura Bassi [see box 4, item 22]. Rosa Frascaroli, by her will, dated 7th June 1754, in her turn made her nephew the heir and after him—since he had in the meantime become ordained and had passed on his possessions to his cousin—to Laura Bassi's male descendants. In this way, Laura's sons found themselves heirs to the property that came to the family through Laura's maternal line. It was also the reason why the Veratti family came into possession of deeds that were directly related to the Bassi, as they provided evidence justifying the inheritance of the Bassi property that had come down to the Veratti.

2. Istrumenti relativi alla famiglia Veratti, 1691-1830

The box contains the deeds referring to the Veratti family, in chronological order [see also box 1 description]. They were found alongside those referring to the Bassi and were arranged in chronological order; they currently include those referring to Laura Bassi after 1738, the year in which she married into the Veratti family. To a large extent, the notarial documents consist of wills, inventories, and dowries, as well as notices of professional appointments held by Domenico Veratti's († 1679) family members and especially by the descendants of his son, Giovanni Francesco (1661-1716). Two more documents were added that could not be attributed with certainty, as well as one empty folder.

3. Documenti relativi a Francesco Veratti, 1684-1708

Francesco Veratti (21st April 1661–19th November 1716), a medical doctor, led a busy life. He was born in Modena where he lived with his family. In 1677, he moved to Bologna in order to attend medical school; he graduated in 1679 and, together with his brother Geminiano, moved to Venice in 1683 with the idea of continuing his studies abroad. He served as a physician in the Venetian army. As such, he travelled until 1687 and then went back in 1688 to Modena where he went to work for its duke; at the same time, he completed his Ph.D. in Ferrara. In 1691, he married Rosalia Calvoli, the daughter of the tutor who had taught him in 1677 while in Bologna (news of the tutor’s family can be found in this series' deeds); in order to practise his profession more freely, he moved to Bologna in 1694. And then in 1709 he moved again to the Romagna, first to Bertinoro and later, as a district physician, to Ravenna–where he was granted citizenship in 1713. He made a reputation for himself not only as a physician but also as a philosopher, anatomist and botanist. He died in 1716, and his family moved again to Bologna the following year. According to the memoirs of his son Ferdinando [see box 5], he had nine children, three of whom died prematurely. Of the surviving six, we know of Giovanni Pietro (1708-1770) [who worked at the "Assunteria dell'Abbondanza del Senato bolognese"], Anna (b. 1701), Angela (b. 1693), also known as Sister Maria Casimira, and Teresa (b. 1713) thanks solely to the deeds where they are named as contracting parties, whereas there are documents explicitly referring to Ferdinando (1698-1777) and Giuseppe (1707-1793).

4. Documenti relativi a Ferdinando Veratti, 1721 (rif. sc. XVII/metà)-1788

Ferdinando (1698-1777) was born in Bologna and entered the seminary in Ravenna in 1713. He returned to Bologna in 1717, became a doctor of divinity, wrote the oft-cited memoirs of the Veratti, became a canon regular of San Petronio and, in 1734, the confessor of the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

5. Documenti relativi a Giuseppe di Francesco Veratti, 1734-1742

Giuseppe (1707-1793) was a physician and a public lecturer in medicine; in 1738, he married Laura Bassi, with whom he had for certain eight children. He began his studies with Giacomo Bartolomeo Beccari in 1727 and he frequently conducted physics experiments together with his wife in the laboratory they had set up at their home.

6. Documenti relativi a Laura Bassi, 1732-1836

The documents of the two following boxes were arranged and described by Raffaella Tommasi in 1962, and no substantial changes were made apart from the description. Laura was born on 29th October 1711 [For a short biography, see Dizionario Biografico degli italiani, VII, Roma, 1965, pp. 145- 147] to Giuseppe Maria and Rosa Maria Cesari; her first grammar teacher and admirer was Lorenzo Stegani; afterwards, Gaetano Tacconi, reader in medicine, taught her logic, metaphysics and natural philosophy: her progress was such that he realized that she could at the age of twenty successfully present herself in public. The disputation Laura presided over on 17th April 1732, before the Legate Grimaldi, the archbishop Prospero Lambertini and many scholars and important people from the city and beyond, was quite an event for Bologna and for Laura's own life. This public presentation by a woman who could speak well and demonstrate profound knowledge attracted a large crowd. The competence that she showed was such that, the same year, she was awarded a degree in philosophy at a formal ceremony in the Palazzo Pubblico. She was admitted to the Collegio dei Filosofi by acclamation, and the university senate showed its eagerness to offer her a chair at the Archiginnasio: as a consequence, on June 1st Laura Bassi gave a public presentation that earned her, ex officio, a lectureship in philosophy. On October 29th, 1732, she began giving public lectures, although not very often, as it was not thought appropriate for her to appear in public so frequently. However, she taught privately at home for years. The events that took place in 1732 were of fundamental importance in Laura Bassi's life, and they usually are the only events reported by her biographers in such detail: wherever one reads of Laura Bassi, it seems as if they were the only events of consequence. Yet she led an eventful life as both a scholar and a mother of at least nine children. [The documents make note of nine children (see family tree). Giovanni Fantuzzi and Michelangelo Gualandi's biographies report 12 children, while Antonio Garelli speaks of eight. Only 5 children survived for certain: Giovanni, Ciro, Giacomo, Caterina and Paolo, and these are the only ones mentioned in Ferdinando Veratti's memoirs (see box 5, item 3)]. She had married Giuseppe di Francesco Veratti in 1738, a physician and lecturer in medicine. Both of Laura Bassi's primary biographers, Giovanni Fantuzzi and Antonio Garelli, insist that the marriage was made necessary by her father's old age and the impossibility of a woman appearing in public unaccompanied. In 1776, she was granted the chair of physics by the University of Bologna; she died on February 20th, 1778, weakened according to many by her numerous pregnancies. Of the two boxes, the first one mainly contains manuscripts, the second one printed matter.

7. Documenti relativi al canonico Giovanni di Giuseppe Veratti, 1761-1800

The 19th-century documents have been restored.

Giovanni Veratti (1738-1800), the eldest son of Giuseppe and Laura Bassi, lecturer in moral theology and scripture, was a canon regular and later the honorary master of San Petronio and vice chancellor of the Collegio di Montalto. He designated as his heirs his bother Paolo and Paolo's male descendants.

8. Documenti relativi a Giacomo di Giuseppe Veratti, 1772-1818

Giacomo Veratti, (1749-May 1, 1818), one of the four surviving sons of Giuseppe and Laura Bassi, entered orders at the Oratorio di San Filippo Neri and became a canon of San Petronio Basilica. He was very close to his brother Paolo and supported him in his family's adversities.

9. Documenti relativi a Paolo Veratti, 1765-1832

As far as Paolo Veratti (25th January 1753 -21st December 1831), son of Giuseppe and Laura Bassi, is concerned, the documents immediately make clear how he, in the course of pursuing his own academic career, was overshadowed by his mother, who was always mentioned at the most significant moments of his life and professional achievements. After assisting, from a very early age, at the Gabinetto Fisico dell'Istituto delle Scienze under the direction of his parents, with whom he studied philosophy and medicine, he attended for a long time a school run by Dr. Gaetano Uttini. At Uttini's home, he took part in a quasi-public disputation. In 1773, he was admitted to the Accademia dell’Istituto delle Scienze as a student and graduated in philosophy and medicine on June 20th, 1780. He worked for the Assunteria di Sanità to control Mal Bovino, a bovine disease then raging in the countryside, and as chief physician of the medical college he inspected apothecaries. In 1785, he defended his thesis entitled Quibusdam aeris conditionibus sanitatem respicientibus at the University of Bologna in order to obtain a lectureship and, in 1786, he was nominated, as he himself tells us in his various memoirs [see box 10, files 2, 4; box 11, files 3, 4], deputy professor of experimental physics under Professor Sebastiano Canterzani, but he never got the chair. Even then, his financial situation was far from sound: in 1785, he appealed to the Opera Pia dei Poveri Vergognosi for support for himself and his family [see box 9, file 7. He received the money later, see box 11, file 4]. To quote from his appeal: "[after the death of his mother] the family lost the monies from the stipend she enjoyed, and her husband Giuseppe and his three oldest children, two of whom were priests and one married with a family of his own, began to experience difficulty making ends meet in their situations, inasmuch as the paternal and maternal inheritances amounted to a very small amount and were insufficient divided into five shares to sustain adequately even one individual, let alone a family. Now that the fourth son, Paolo, the youngest of them all and himself married with a family, finds himself completely unprovided for, by means of this appeal he implores Your Holiness to grant him from the Opera dei Poveri Vergognosi an allowance that, taken together with the meager sum from his mother's inheritance, which was shared between his father, his brothers and him, would be sufficient to sustain his family adequately and to give him the opportunity to pursue his career." In 1793, he was awarded a lectureship in medicine at the University of Bologna; he presented his first lecture at the Hall of Anatomy, became an "Accademico Benedettino" and, in 1796 and 1799 respectively, was admitted to the medical and then to the philosophy faculties. He was registered among the physicians of the monasteries of San Giovanni Battista, San Lorenzo and Santa Maria della Maddalena of the Servite nuns, and of the friars of Santissima Annunziata. Just as soon as he had achieved the highest professional rank of his career and the recognition appropriate to it, both personal and financial, the onset of French rule reversed his fortunes. The Collegio Medico and the Collegio Pontificio di Montalto, where he taught physics, were abolished, and the various monasteries where he had worked as a physician were suppressed. In 1803, when the new university was established, he was not considered for a chair, although he had previously served as a vice chair, but was instead made merely the administrator of the experimental physics laboratory. Between 1804 and 1807 he lectured in experimental physics at the university, replacing the professor in charge when needed. In 1808, the chair became vacant, at which point he was able to teach the full year. After the Liceo Santa Lucia was established in Bologna, he was appointed in 1812 teacher of physics, in addition to chemistry and natural history, a post he held until the liceo was closed. His own laboratory, which he had inherited from his parents and had improved continuously, was made available to his students. Under French rule, teaching high school was his only means of support. When the papal state was restored, Paolo Veratti was chosen as administrator of three scientific labs at the university, despite his expectation of achieving greater recognition and being awarded a chair. With a family of nine, he fell into poverty and was obliged to appeal repeatedly for support to the pope and to the Opera Pia dei Poveri Vergognosi. Only in 1828 did Cardinal Oppizzoni name him an emeritus professor of the university. Paolo was married to Maria Teresa Serafina Marchesini and had four children for certain: Giuseppe (1783-1816), a physician who died young, Francesco (1788-1831), also a physician, Gaetano (1786-1828), a lawyer, and Laura Maria Caterina (b. 1793). The documents referring to Paolo are the richest part of the collection. Most of them were restored in 2000, and the section that did not have an original arrangement, since it had been frequently reshuffled over the years, was arranged by topic and organized in newly created folders in logical order (for instance, birth registers and marriage certificates come first) and by date. The papers describing assets and liabilities at his death were also assigned to Paolo Veratti, since they are directly linked to him and cannot be referred to any single heir of his.

10. Documenti relativi a Gaetano di Paolo Veratti, 1806-1825

Little can be found in the documents about Gaetano Veratti (3rd February 1788–14th March 1828), other than that he was a lawyer. He was secretary and then provisional director of the postal service for the Reno district. He died childless, leaving as heirs his brothers and their male descendants.

11. Documenti relativi a Francesco di Paolo Veratti, 1830

Only one of the documents refers to Francesco Veratti (1788-1831), Paolo’s third son, married to Adelaide Marchesini, who bore him two sons, Giuseppe and Leonida. It is a declaration by a certain Giuseppe Pironi of his love for Margherita Veratti, addressed to Francesco inasmuch as he was the young lady's guardian since her father, Giuseppe Veratti, had died prematurely.

12. Miscellanea, 1712-sec. XVIII

Papers that could not be traced back with certainty to a specific member of the Bassi or the Veratti or to any identified category are collected here. They include documents concerning the scientist Giacomo Bartolomeo Beccari (1682-1766) and Luigi Galvani (an appeal and a genealogy by Giacomo Filippo Antonio Galvani), as well as a diverse collection of poems not necessarily realated to Laura Bassi, although possibly dedicated to her or collected by her in her lifetime, since a recurring theme in the works is women.