Van Diest, Isala

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Van Diest, Isala Gender: F
Van Diest, Anne Catherine Albertine Isala
born on 7 May 1842 at 04:00 (= 04:00 AM )
Place Leuven, Belgium, 50n53, 4e42
Timezone LMT m4e42 (is local mean time)
Data source
Quoted BC/BR
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Michiels
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_taucol.18.gif 16°09' s_mo.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 06°55 Asc.s_taucol.18.gif 02°18'

Isala Van Diest


Isala Van Diest was the first female medical doctor and the first female university graduate in Belgium.

The daughter of an open-minded surgeon and obstetrician, Isala Van Diest and her sisters received the same education as their brother. Their mother also took them on a trip to England, where they came into contact with the progressive environment.

Secondary high schools were not yet at that time available to girls in Belgium, so Isala travelled to Bern, Switzerland to prepare for university. She returned to Belgium in 1873 and attempted to register with the Medical Faculty of the Catholic University of Louvain, but was hampered by the refusal of the Roman Catholic religious hierarchy, who suggested to her that she instead become a midwife. She refused this proposal and returned to Bern, since the Swiss universities were the first of Europe to open up to women and she could pursue medical studies there.

She graduated in 1879, and practised her profession for two years in England, where women doctors were free to practise since 1866. She was attached to the New Hospital for Women, and during the time she met many British feminists.

She once again returned to Belgium, however, to be able to have her medical qualifications recognized, she was forced to complete additional courses at the Free University of Brussels, open to women since 1880. It then took a Royal Decree in 1884, in order to be allowed to open her own medical practice in Brussels.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • business associate/partner relationship with Popelin, Marie (born 10 September 1846)
  • compare to chart of Jacobs, Aletta (born 9 February 1854). Notes: first female physicians of the Low Countries


Source Notes

Rijksarchief Leuven Acte 392


  • Traits : Mind : Education extensive
  • Family : Childhood : Family supportive
  • Vocation : Medical : Physician (first woman in Belgium)
  • Vocation : Politics : Activist/ feminist
  • Notable : Awards : Medals (depicted on the 2 euro commemorative coin in 2011 with Marie Popelin)
  • Notable : Famous : First in Field
  • Notable : Famous : Founder/ originator (founded the Belgian Women's Rights League (Ligue belge du droit des femmes) with Marie Popelin)
  • Notable : Book Collection : Profiles Of Women