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Dolors Aleu i Riera

Medical doctor (Barcelona, 7th April 1857–19th February 1913)

In a male-dominated world, Dolors Aleu i Riera was one of the first women courageous enough to enrol at university and graduate from the Faculty of Medicine. In the 1870s, she entered Barcelona University and earned her doctorate with her thesis entitled “On the need to embark on a new path towards instructing women about hygiene and moral education”, which was published by La Academia in 1883. Her thesis is kept at the Biblioteca Pública Arús. Dolors obtained excellent grades and was the first woman in Spain to earn a degree and the second to obtain a doctorate. She was also the first woman to join the Société Française d’Hygiène, as an associate foreign member.

In 1885, she founded the Acadèmia de Belles Arts i Oficis per a la Dona, with Ildefons Cerdà’s daughter, Clotilde Cerdà Bosch. It stood at number 10, Rambla de Canaletas, Aleu taught classes about hygiene in the home.

She worked in Barcelona as a gynaecologist and paediatrician until her death in 1913. Her surgery was on Rambla de Catalunya, but she also worked as a GP free of charge at Barcelona’s poor house, the Casa de la Caritat.

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