Thora Maria Fredrika Hildegard Björck (1 May 1847 – 7 April 1920) was the first Swedish woman to complete an academic degree. She is today considered a female academic pioneer in Sweden. Björck received the opportunity to enlist and graduate with degrees from both Lund and Uppsala. She also had an interest in literature and worked against prostitution.
Hildegard Björck was born on 1 May 1847 in Bro, Värmland. She was the daughter of surveyor Carl Emanuel Björck and his wife Anna Charlotte Roman. Anna died when Hildegard was just four years old and her father died in 1869 when she was 22 years old. The year after her father's death an opportunity arose for Swedish women to get a studentexamen, and Hildegard Björck was one of the first to take the opportunity. She graduated from the Nya Elemnar-school in Stockholm in June 1872 and the following year entered Uppsala University graduating with a medico-philosophy degree in 1873 and a medicine degree in 1879. In the spring of 1880, Björck was accepted at Lund University. But after suffering from measles and additional hearing problems, she stopped her studies and never became a licensed doctor.
Björck became an informal assistant doctor to anatomy professor Carl Fredrik Naumann, and her part uncle who was a medicine doctor who lived in Stockholm. After both men died from old age, Björck worked as a private carer to a number of individuals in France and England. One of them, Julia Ewelöf, became a close friend and they lived together in Lausanne in the same dwelling until Björck's death on 7 April 1920.
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