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Accepted Paper:

The unfinished life and work of Marianne Schmidl (1890-1942)  
Katja Geisenhainer (University of Vienna and Frobenius Institute Frankfurt)

Paper short abstract:

The paper offers an introduction to the life and work of one of the earliest professional female anthropologists in Germany and Austria, M. Schmidl, and her attempts to find her place among scientists as a woman with Jewish ancestors and without a permanent position in an ethnological institution.

Paper long abstract:

Marianne Schmidl is an important female anthropologist of the early generations. Unfortunately it is not any longer possible to interview her. She was born in 1890 in Berchtesgaden/Germany, grew up in Vienna and first studied mathematics then ethnology. Her teachers were M. Haberland, R. Pöch and M. Hoernes and others. She was also in contact with the exponents of the Viennese School of Cultural History. In 1915 Schmidl was the first woman in Austria who received a doctorate in ethnology. Since 1916 she worked in German museums (Berlin, Weimar, Stuttgart) for several years. Regardless of all these qualifications and despite positive evaluations from leading ethnologists of the time, she was unable to find professional position in an ethnological institution for two reasons: she was a woman and many of her ancestors were Jewish. She therefore had to continue her ethnological studies - besides working for the National Library in Vienna, where she was employed until 1938. Schmidl, who did not marry or have children of her own, spent almost all her free time travelling for her studies. She wrote articles about the Schopen in Bulgaria and about the history of Africa. However, her main interest was basket-making in Africa. For these studies she received financial support from the "Staatlich-Saechsisches Forschungsinstitut fuer Voelkerkunde". In 1939 the director of this research institute forced Schmidl to hand in her unfinished manuscript. For this reason she was not able to complete this work before her deportation and death in 1942.

Panel W105
Imaginative women: theoretical and methodological contributions of founding grandmothers of European anthropology
  Session 1