Dorothea Erxleben

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Dorothea Erxleben
Frauen 060 Pf Dorothea Erxleben.png
German stamp issued in 1987 in the Women in German history series
Born 13 November 1715
Quedlinburg, Germany
Died 13 June 1762 (aged 46)
Quedlinburg, Germany
Nationality Germany
Fields Medicine
Influences Laura Bassi

Dorothea Christiane Erxleben née Leporin (13 November 1715, Quedlinburg – 13 June 1762 in Quedlinburg) was the first female medical doctor in Germany[1]

Erxleben was instructed in medicine by her father from an early age[2] The Italian scientist Laura Bassi's university professorship inspired Erxleben to fight for her right to practise medicine. In 1742 she published a tract arguing that women should be allowed to attend university[3]

After being admitted to study by a dispensation of Frederick the Great,[2] Erxleben received her M.D. from the University of Halle in 1754.[3] She went on to analyse the obstacles preventing women from studying, among them housekeeping and children.[2]

Personal life[edit]

She was the mother of Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben.

Further reading[edit]

  • Women in medicine
  • Women in Science: Antiquity Through the Nineteenth Century : a Biographical Dictionary with Annotated Bibliography, By Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie.


  1. ^ Schiebinger, L. (1990): "The Anatomy of Difference: Race and Sex in Eighteenth-Century Science", pg. 399, Eighteenth Century Studies 23(3) pgs. 387-405
  2. ^ a b c Sutherland, M. (1985): Women Who Teach in Universities (Trentham Books) pg. 118
  3. ^ a b Offen, K. (2000): European Feminisms, 1700-1950: A Political History (Stanford University Press), pg. 43

External links[edit]