Role Model Sunday: Elise Richter

Richter's Student ID, picture: Thomas H.

Richter’s Student ID, picture: Thomas H.

Elise Richter was one of the first women to study at University of Vienna, starting in 1897. Of these 3 women, only Elise Richter’s student ID can still be found at the city’s public library at city hall.

Elise finished her studies of philosophy and romance languages in 1901. The Dean strongly opposed her receiving the venia legendi (right to teach courses), as he deemed it impossible for men letting a woman teach them. Still, in 1905 (or 1907, depending on the source) she received her Habilitation, and was appointed extra-ordinary professor in 1921 (with 50% of the votes against her) – she never made it to ordinary professor.

She founded the Association of Austrian Academic Women (Verband der Akademikerinnen Österreichs) and chaired it (from 1920 on, or from 1922 to 1930 – sources diverge again). As of 1928, she was in charge of the phonetic institute at University of Vienna. Her work was focused on linguistics (semantics, syntax, phonetics, …), but also included cultural and historic influences in her many publications (over 300). One thing she discovered was the influence of psychological processes on language.

As she was of Jewish ancestry, live became tough as of 1938. She lost her job at the University and could only publish in the Netherlands and Italy from 1940 to 1942. In 1942, she and her sister were moved to a Jewish home for the elderly. From there, they were deported to Terezín/Theresienstadt concentration camp in November 1942. Helene, an Anglist and critic (she published e.g. on Mary Shelley), died on November 8, 1942. Elise died on June 23, 1943.

In 2008, the City of Vienna renamed a street in the 21st district after Elise Richter.

Sources for this article were the City of Vienna’s wiki and wikipedia.

Elise Richter has been brought to my attention by a good friend, Thomas. He, too, loves Vienna – and every day, he publishes a factoid on the city on twitter, using #wienfakt (German only, sorry.). The picture source is his #twandertag storyify.

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This entry was posted in Feminism, Role Models. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Role Model Sunday: Elise Richter

  1. Awesome! At http://www.wearesisterstories.org we love role models like these! I hope you’ll check us out, and consider sharing your writing with us!

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