The State of Women’s History in Sweden: An Overview

  • Yvonne Hirdman


The first woman in Sweden, and for that matter in the Nordic countries, to defend a doctoral thesis in history was Ellen Fries. The year was 1883, the place Uppsala University and the subject was the history of the diplomatic relationship between Sweden and the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. This event was seen by some radical professors as a sign of a better and more equal world to come, but by others (the majority) as the opposite: as a sign of the decline of scholarship. They hoped that she, as well as being the first, would also be the last as, in fact, she was for a long time.2 The first woman ever to become a professor in history in Sweden was Ingrid Hammarström (Stockholm University), who, in the late 1950s, wrote a very good dissertation on Swedish trade in the sixteenth century. The second female professor was Birgitta Odén (Lund University), also a brilliant historian, who later developed a keen interest in ‘the theoretical aspects of’ history and, in the 60s, engaged in the debate between ‘the new’ history and the old empirically-oriented history. Outside university circles, Ellen Fries, who had connections with the women’s movement, published biographical essays about famous women in Swedish history. The interests of the two later female professors, however, lay strictly within mainstream historiography.3


Trade Union Economic History Labour Movement Female Professor Woman Question 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Karen Offen, Ruth Roach Pierson, Jane Rendall 1991

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  • Yvonne Hirdman

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