Lovisa Årberg

Lovisa Årberg

name = Lovisa Aarberg

residence = Stockholm, Sweden
other_names =
birth_date = 1803
birth_place =Uppsala
death_date = after 1866
death_place =
known =
occupation = doctor, surgeon
spouse =
children =
website =
footnotes = Possibly the first female doctor in Sweden.

Lovisa Årberg (born in Uppsala in 1803, died after 1866), was a Swedish surgeon and doctor. She was the first recognised female doctor in Sweden; she was a doctor and a surgeon already in the 1820s, long before it was formally permitted for women in 1870. The only identified earlier female medical practitioner in Sweden, who may have had such an official recognition, was Kisamor, who didn't have any formal medical training.


Lovisa was born in Uppsala in Uppland. It seems her mother was a nurse; in the beginning of the 19th century, nurses were merely uneducated helpers to the doctors, but Lovisa as it was said, often followed her mother to the hospitals and was, by observation, as well educated by her medical observations as she would have been as a student.

As an adult, Lovisa left Uppsala to start to work as a maid in Stockholm. In her spare time, she often helped friends with their health problems. Word spread of her medical knowledge, and more and more people came to ask her for medical treatment. Soon, even rich people became her regular clients and paid her for her efforts, which finally made it posible for her to quit her work as a maid and open her own clinic and start to work solely as a doctor in the city of Stockholm.

Quackery charge

In contrast to Kisamor, who had a long accepted tradition to build upon when she worked as a doctor out in the countryside, Lovisa was met with great opposition from male doctors when she started to became known as a selfsupporting female doctor in the city. In the 1820s, it was also forbidden for a woman to work as a doctor, and she was investegated by the medical authorities for quackery. During the examination, however, they found that she was a very good doctor, and had all the knowledge that the male doctors had. She was therefore acquitted from quackery and given permission to practice medicine in Stockholm even though it was forbidden for women. She was also rewarded with a medal.

Charity work

Årberg was admired by Fredrika Bremer, who mentiones her in her famous novel "Hertha" in 1856:

Be it permisseble for me to here utter a word of regard and recognition for the doctoress in Stockholm, Miss Årberg, and ad the wish, that some of the wealthy people, which occasionly sends their carriages to fetch the skillfull doctoress, would like to, one time or another, witness the reception she daily gives to the poor people of Stockholm, who hurries through her open doors with their wounds and injuries; they would, as much as we do, be taken by admiration upon the never ending patience, the good humour and the generosity, by which she gives her time, her care and her ointments to the thousands, which have nothing to give her but the thank you which for some low minded people are made to be ungratitude. They would as we do feel a wish to give her a better location for her good work, than the one she now has more or less on the street, and meens to contiune it without to much losses, and then they would, perhaps, more happily do what they wish.
Åberg is portrayed in a book about famous Swedish women published in 1864-1866. Her clinic is here called a "poor man's clinic" because she so often treated poor people. This contemporary book reports, that Årberg's own health had become so damaged by hard work that she on several occasions had to take leave and rest in the resort of Carlsbad. The article ends the report: cquote|One can only hope, that the only too much applied strength to at least some extent will continue to support her, to benefit the great number of people, who still rely upon her care.

She was not the only reputed woman practising medicine in Sweden at the time; Hanna Svensdotter, (1798-1864), her contemporary, was videly reputed as "The Doctoress in Wram", and her reputation aspecially regarding leg injuries "reached far outside of Scania".

See also

* Ingeborg i Mjarhult


* [http://runeberg.org/sqvinnor/0449.html runeberg.org]
* [http://runeberg.org/sqvinnor/0404.html runeberg.org]
* http://runeberg.org/hertha/kap13.html

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