Why you should take this class if you are interested in Women’s Studies?


There are multiple references to achievements of extraordinary women, two examples of whom are briefly introduced below:


  1. Lou Hoover (1874-?), the wife of former president Herbert Hoover, was the chief translator of De Re Metallica by Agricola into English. She studied Geology in Stanford – the first woman ever in this science in Stanford, and followed by another only 25 years afterwards. In addition, she had a great language talent, which she employed to study classical languages such as Hebrew, Latin or Greek. She traveled the world in her research, and was remarkably independent. She and her husband, as geologists, engineers and prospectors, formed a remarkably productive team. They together translated Agricolas book in 1909, which was particularly challenging since Agricola wrote it in Latin, and made up words for if there was no Latin expression for something. Their translation is the one we are using in this class. Although, H. Hoover is often credited with it, in the Hoover Library and Memorial in Iowa one can learn, how Lou and Herbert worked and lived together and changed large parts of the world in doing so.


Age 19, Hoover Memorial Library, Iowa



  1. Barbara Uthmann (1514-1575), a 16th century merchant’s wife in Annaberg, Saxony, single-handedly saved large parts of the population from starvation, by introducing lace making to the women in the area, after the silver in the mines declined. She organized more than 1000 women into a lace-making collaborative. This paid work helped feed the families, and bridged over a few decades until other minerals from the mines, such as Cobalt and tin, became economically interesting and viable. Another example of the significant business sense of this women are her activities with respect to the Saigerhütte Olbernhau. This smelter and copper rolling plant was in decline in the 1550s, as the local ore was diminishing. She negotiated with the Archduke August of Saxony to acquire the rights for the purchase of raw copper ore (called Black copper, containing copper, iron, silver and impurities) from locations allover Saxony and Germany. This saved the location in Olbernhau from ruin, and helped it to become the most successful location for the production of roofing copper in Europe at the time. One can find a great exhibition on her progressive ideas and actions in the Annaberg-Bergmuseum.



Sculptures of Barbara Uthmann in the Erzgebirgsmuseum and on the market square of Annaberg.


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