Women in Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics

Research on female logicians is a true desideratum to this day. The historiography has long tended to exclude, marginalize and trivialize women’s contribution on logical issues, problems and developments. There is currently a movement toward correcting this historical bias. The past twenty-five years have seen an explosion of a re-discovering, re-reading and re-forming the logical works of women which enrich our picture of aims and scopes of logic and its history. This is especially true for anglophone research on female English-speaking logicians (e.g. Ada Lovelace, Christine Ladd-Franklin, Emily Elizabeth Constance-Jones, Ruth Barcan-Marcus, Alice Ambrose, Susanne Langer etc.). But until today there is hardly any research on German speaking female logicians.

The following list of German-speaking female logicians in the the first half of the 20th century is a work in progress. One may argue about whether really all philosophers mentioned in the list are to count as logicians. Quite a few women mentioned in the list were more philosophical mathematicians than logicians, or, rather, scientifically trained philosophers. This is due to the fact that formal logic (predicate calculus) was only developed in this time. 

My research on  German-speaking female logicians in the the first half of the 20th century dates back to a project I started at the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists at Paderborn University. My research would not have been possible without the preliminary and groundbreaking work of the Erlangen Logic Documentation which was part of the DFG project Case Studies Towards the Establishment of a Social History of Logic (1985–1989) under Prof. Christian Thiel, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Research on the history of formal logic was stored in a database containing short biographical sketches and information on further biographical material, including obituaries, correspondence and bibliographies, and a portrait (photo) collection. Almost 2000 logicians are listed in the collection, among them 60 female logicians from twelve countries, and sixteen entries to German-speaking women. Pioneering work in this field has been carried out by Christian Thiel, Karin Beiküfner, and Volker Peckhaus. Their works were published as ‘Arbeitsberichte’ within the DFG-project. Beiküfner’s work was later continued by Adelheid Hamacher-Hermes in the RWTH-funded project Women in Logic at the Beginning of the 20th Century in Germany at the University of Aachen (1994-1996). I would like to thank Volker Peckhaus and Adelheid-Hamacher-Hermes very much for giving me insight into their documentations.

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