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Berlin’s first female university student

By the time Agnes Harnack obtained her Abitur in 1908, she had already worked for several years as a teacher at girls’ middle and high schools in Berlin. That same year, the Prussian Ministry of Education allowed women to fully enroll at universities for the first time, and on October 6, Harnack became the first woman to enter her name in the enrollment list of the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin. She remained at the university until 1912, following courses in German, English and philosophy. She completed her studies with a doctorate in philosophy. 

Alongside her scientific studies, Harnack was passionate about promoting the education of women. In 1926 she co-founded the German Association of Women Academics (DAB). After World War II, she played a leading role in Berliner Frauenbund 1945, championing the active political involvement of women. Students at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin still come across their university’s very first female student every day: the online teaching and examination site AGNES is named after her.


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