Dolors Aleu i Riera

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Dolors Aleu i Riera
Dolores Aleu 2.jpg
BornApril 7, 1857
DiedFebruary 19, 1913(1913-02-19) (aged 55)
Known forFirst Spanish woman licensed in medicine, second Spanish woman to earn an MD
Scientific career

Dolors Aleu i Riera (April 7, 1857 in Barcelona[1] – February 19, 1913) was a noted Spanish doctor.[2][3][4] She was the first woman in Spain to be licensed in medicine and the second woman in the country to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

An only child, Aleu learned to read by age 5.[6] She studied at the University of Barcelona, though during 1874-1875 she attended classes at the University of Valencia.[2] She earned her undergraduate degree in July, 1874. The following September, she enrolled in the university's medical school. Aleu completed her studies in 1879, but she didn't receive permission to take the licensing exam until nearly three years later, in the spring of 1882. She finally took the exam on June 19 of that year. She passed with excellent marks and thus became the first Spanish woman licensed to practice medicine.[7] On October 8, 1882, Aleu became just the second Spanish woman to earn a doctorate in medicine (she received her MD four days after Martina Castells Ballespí). Her thesis, presented on October 6, was titled On the need to set the hygienic and moral education of women on a new course.[2] In it, she criticized discrimination against women.[3]


Aleu specialized in gynecology and pediatrics. One of the first three women to study medicine in Spain (in addition to Castells and Maria Elena Maseras), Aleu alone went on to practice medicine. She opened a medical consulting firm in Barcelona, which she ran for 25 years. Castells, meanwhile, died before she could practice, and Elena Maseras dedicated her career to teaching.[8]

Aleu was highly active during her 25 years in practice. She was a professor of domestic hygiene at the Academy of Sciences, Arts and Offices for Women, which was founded in 1885 at 10 Rambla de Canaletes by the liberal-minded musician Clotilde Cerdà i Bosch (better known by her stage name, Esmeralda Cervantes).

Aleu was also the author of informative texts aimed at improving the quality of life for women, especially mothers. These included Advice to a Mother on Management, Cleaning, Clothing, Sleep, Exercise, and Entertaining the Children.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In 1883, Aleu married Camilo Cuyàs Martí.[6] They had two sons, Joan and Camil. Joan, the elder, studied industrial engineering while Camil studied medicine. Camil died tragically at age 23 from tuberculosis. It is believed his death precipitated Aleu's own death at age 56.[6]


  1. ^ Spanish civil Registry, 1857, register number 1421.
  2. ^ a b c d "Aleu i Riera, Dolors (1857-1913)".
  3. ^ a b "Doctor Aleu, the first woman doctor in Spain".
  4. ^ Troy Mckenzie (23 September 2014). WOMEN'S WORTH, PRICELESS. Trafford Publishing. pp. 143–. ISBN 978-1-4907-4707-1.
  5. ^ Aleu i Riera, Dolors. "De la necesidad de encaminar por nueva senda la educación higiénico-moral de la mujer". Tesis Doctorales en Red (Dissertation Network). Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "Dolors Aleu Riera". Diccionari Biografic de Dones (Biographical Dictionary of women). Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  7. ^ La Vanguardia, 17 March 2010, pages 24-25 Doctores en Medicina, letter to the editor from M. Conxa Montagud
  8. ^ La Vanguardia, 23 March 2010, page 20 Doctores en Medicina, letter to the editor from M. Dolors Cuyas R., Aleu's great-granddaughter

External resources[edit]

  • Gallery of Catalan Doctors: Dolors Aleu i Riera (in Catalan)
  • Corbella, Jacinto, and Domenech, Edelmira. "A question of priority: Helena Maseras, Dolors Aleu, Martina Castells," in Proceedings of the First International Congress of the History of Catalan Medicine (Montpellier), 1970, vol. I, pp. 139–142.
  • Ibero Costanso, Alba. "Aleu i Riera, Dolors", in Women in the History of Spain (Madrid: Planeta, 2000), pp. 388–390.