Emily Hancock Siedeberg

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Emily Hancock Siedeberg-McKinnon, CBE, MB, ChB, BSc (17 February 1873, Clyde, Otago, New Zealand – 13 June 1968, Oamaru, New Zealand)[1] was New Zealand's first female medical graduate.

Life and career[edit]

She was the third child of Irish Quaker Anna Thompson and Franz David Siedeberg, a German Jewish architect who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1861 and taken up mining.[2] When Emily was three the family settled in Dunedin, her father becoming a successful building contractor. Emily was educated at the Normal School and at Otago Girls' High School, where she held a board scholarship. From an early age she accepted her father's dictum that she should train as a doctor.

Encouraged by her father, she studied medicine and graduated from the University of Otago Medical School in 1896. She did her post-graduate studies at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin and in Berlin. After postgraduate training and work experience overseas, she eventually registered as a medical practitioner and set up a private practice in Dunedin. She was appointed Medical Superintendent at St. Helen's Hospital, Dunedin, and served from 1905 - 1938.

Dr. Siedeberg was active in community and welfare work. A founding member of the Dunedin branch of the New Zealand Society for the Protection of Women and Children in 1899, she was president of the Dunedin branch from 1933 to 1948 and became honorary life president in 1949.


She was also a foundation member of the:

  • Otago University Women's Association
  • New Zealand Federation of University Women
  • The Townswomen's Guild
  • Delegate to the first Pan-Pacific Women's Conference
  • National Council of Women of New Zealand (Dunedin branch) (1918)
  • New Zealand Medical Women's Association founder (1921) and first president
  • Otago Pioneer Women's Memorial Association

Personal life[edit]

She married James Alexander McKinnon (died 1949) in Los Angeles on 8 October 1928 and would be known as E.H. Siedeberg McKinnon and Emily H. Siedeberg-McKinnon. They had no children.

Siedeberg-McKinnon delivered Janet Frame, the New Zealand author and screenwriter.

Widowed in 1949, she died in the Presbyterian Social Service Association home at Oamaru on 13 June 1968, aged 95.


She was awarded a life membership of the New Zealand Branch of the British Medical Association (1929) and of the New Zealand Registered Nurses' Association (1939), a King George V Silver Jubilee Medal (1935) and a CBE (1949).

The cul-de-sac Emily Siedeberg Place in Dunedin was named in her honour in 1993, as part of Suffrage Centennial Year.[3]

Siedeberg Drive in Flat Bush, Auckland was also named in her honour.


  1. ^ Sargison, Patricia A. "Siedeberg, Emily Hancock 1873 - 1968". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  2. ^ Stone, Andrew (3 March 2012). "New Zealand's Jewish achievers". The New Zealand Herald. 
  3. ^ "Street names and plaques". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 

External links[edit]