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Hildegard of Bingen

First woman scientist whose writings still exist (1098-1179)

Hildegard was born into a wealthy German family, and received an education in a convent. Convents or abbeys were some of the only places women could receive formal education during the Dark Ages. Hildegard studied Latin, religion, and music. She became the abbess (leader) of her abbey. Hildegard wrote natural history books as well as medical books, and was the first person to write about the need to boil drinking water for sanitation. Hildegard also taught religion and medicine, and she emphasized the importance of exercise and diet. She is the first woman whose scientific writings still exist today.

Link: Hildegard von Bingen
Link: www.hildegard.org

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Information adapted from History of Women in Science for Young People by Vivian Sheldon Epstein.