Harriet Freidenreich

Harriet Freidenreich is professor emerita of history at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she taught a wide range of courses in Jewish history, European women’s history and gender history. Her publications include The Jews of Yugoslavia and Jewish Politics in Vienna. Her most recent book is Female, Jewish and Educated: The Lives of Central European University Women. She is a member of the editorial board of Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

Articles by this author

Yugoslavia

Little has been written about the history of women in former Yugoslavia and even less is as yet known about the history of Jewish women in the Balkans.

Frieda Wunderlich

Frieda Wunderlich, a prominent economist and politician in Germany, became the only woman faculty member of the New School for Social Research in New York when it was established in 1933 as a haven for academic refugees from Nazism. She achieved international recognition for her research and publications on labor and social policy, including women’s work.

Charlotte Wolff

The pioneering Jewish lesbian feminist Charlotte Wolff was a physician by training, but later became a chirologist, psychotherapist, and sexologist, well known in both England and Germany.

Rahel Straus

Rahel Goitein Straus, one of the pioneering women medical doctors trained in Germany, can serve as a model precursor to the “New Jewish Women” of the twentieth century. Successfully combining a career as a physician with marriage and motherhood, she adhered to traditional Jewish values, while also embracing feminist and Zionist ideals.

Elise Richter

One of the first women to earn a doctorate from the University of Vienna, Elise Richter was the only woman to hold an academic appointment at an Austrian university before World War I. As an instructor and later an associate professor of Romance languages at her alma mater until 1938, she made important scholarly contributions to the field of historical and comparative linguistics.

Margaret Mahler

Margaret Schönberger Mahler, a pioneering child analyst, began her career in Vienna but made her most important discoveries in the United States. She became a leading authority on the mother-child relationship and the separation-individuation process, which she examined in her best-known work, The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant.

Käthe Leichter

Käthe Leichter was undoubtedly the foremost socialist feminist in “Red Vienna” during the interwar years. A Social Democratic politician, labor organizer and author, with a doctorate in political economy, she directed women’s affairs for the Viennese Chamber of Workers (Arbeiterkammer). In May 1938, before she had a chance to escape from Austria, Käthe Leichter was arrested by the Gestapo for illegal socialist activities; she was never released from imprisonment.

Lawyers in Germany and Austria

Even more than medicine and other male-dominated professions, law was a notoriously difficult field for women to break into in Germany and Austria. Since women lawyers were admitted to German bar examinations only in 1922, they had very limited opportunities to establish themselves in legal careers before the Nazi era. Therefore, although a disproportionately high percentage of women law students in Germany and Austria were Jews, very few Jewish women actually practiced law. According to official census data, fifteen Jewish women made up forty percent of the women lawyers in Prussia in 1925 and thirty-two Jewish women comprised thirteen percent of all women lawyers in Germany in 1933.

Higher Education in Central Europe

Many more Jewish men than Jewish women received a higher education in Central Europe before the Nazi era, but once Swiss, and later Austrian and German, universities began admitting women, the proportion of Jewish women among the female student population remained at least twice as high as the proportion of Jewish men among male students.

Hilda Geiringer

Hilda Geiringer’s life epitomizes both the successes and frustrations of women in academia in the early twentieth century. A pioneering applied mathematician, she was the first woman to receive an academic appointment in mathematics at the University of Berlin. Despite her distinguished publications, after immigrating to the United States, she could find jobs only at women’s colleges.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Harriet Freidenreich." (Viewed on April 20, 2019) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/freidenreich-harriet>.

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