Women in Early Phenomenology

The purpose of this project is to shed new light on the lives and work of the women who took part in the early phenomenological movement, with particular focus on Edith Stein, Hedwig Conrad-Martius, and Gerda Walther.

“German Fraulein is a Clever Thinker,” The San Francisco Examiner, 22.IX.1912


The recent resurgence of interest in the history of the phenomenological movement has shown that these women were not marginal figures, but important contributors to the development of phenomenology. Researchers have also unearthed the names of other female students of Husserl, Th. Lipps, and Pfänder, whose relations to phenomenology deserve further consideration. A number of these women stand out, such as Erika Gothe and Margarete Ortmann (who studied in Göttingen), Margarete Calinich and Else Voigtländer (Munich), and Erica Sehl and Amelie Jaegerschmid (Freiburg).


Current research at the Center HWPS focuses on the unpublished writings of Hedwig Conrad-Martius and Gerda Walther. Our aim is to publish new, critical editions of some of their key texts, which will include relevant supplementary materials from their literary estates. We are also attempting to map the early phenomenological movement, looking at the place of women in this intellectual and social network.

  • Project Overview

    Transcription and Translation

    • Researchers at the Center HWPS are currently transcribing unpublished manuscripts from the literary estates of Hedwig Conrad-Martius and Gerda Walther (see the Manuscript Index below). Manuscripts, correspondence, and other archival materials that are identified as having scientific or historical value are being prepared for publication in appropriate venues. Researchers interested in these transcriptions are encouraged to contact Julia Mühl to arrange a visit to the Center.
    • We are also translating selected writings by women phenomenologists from German into English. The publication of these translations will make their thought available to a wider philosophical audience, and promote their inclusion in contemporary phenomenological literature.

    Book Projects

    • There are numerous book projects currently in preparation by researchers and affiliated members of the Center HWPS. These include collected volumes dealing with the thought of the women in early phenomenology, as well as critical editions of previously published works by Hedwig Conrad-Martius and Gerda Walther that will contain relevant supplementary materials from the Nachlässe.

    Digital Archive and Library

    • With the support of the Bavarian State Library and the heirs of the literary estates of Hedwig Conrad-Martius and Gerda Walther, the Center HWPS is creating a Digital Archive of material from these women.
    • Our researchers are also creating comprehensive bibliographies for all the women associated with the phenomenological movement. So far, our Digital Library contains over 400 books and articles, many of which are fully searchable.
    • We are always on the lookout for relevant material to add to our archive. If you have additional material (letters, photographs, etc.) that you would like to donate to our archive, please contact us!

    Network mapping

    • Using various archival materials, researchers at the Center HWPS are mapping the early phenomenological movement, with specific emphasis on the lives and works of women in phenomenology and phenomenological psychology. The data we are collecting will eventually be used to create visualization and reference tools for interested scholars and students.
  • Manuscript Index

    Nachlass Hedwig Conrad-Martius (Conrad-Martiusiana)

    The Nachlass (ˈnaːxlas; literary estate) of Hedwig Conrad-Martius is held by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB) in Munich, and catalogued under the signature Conrad-Martiusiana. It is comprised of 47 large and 8 smaller boxes of manuscripts, lecture notes, photographs, correspondence, etc., as well as her personal philosophical library.

    A complete description (in German) of Hedwig Conrad-Martius’ literary estate can be found in Eberhard Avé-Lallemant’s Die Nachlässe der Münchener Phänomenologen in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek (1975), which you can access online here. Or you can browse our online manuscript index (in progress) below.

    Table of Contents

    A. Manuscripts [Manuskripte]
    B. Notes and Commentaries [Exzerpte und Literaturangaben]
    C. Correspondence [Korrespondenz]
    D. Personalia
    E. Articles and reviews about Conrad-Martius [Artikel und Rezensionen über Conrad-Martius]
    F. Manuscripts by other authors [Fremde Manuskripte]
    G. Reprints and newspaper-clippings of other authors [Fremde Sonderdrucke und Zeitungsausschnitte]
    H . Personal Library [Bibliothek]

    Ana 317. Nachlass Gerda Walther

    The Nachlass of Gerda Walther is divided between the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB) in Munich (signature Ana 317) and the Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene (IGPP) in Freiburg. Ana 317 is comprised of 130 large boxes and 20 additional folders. The collection at the IGPP contains a small portion of Walther’s personal correspondence. Below is an overview of the contents of Ana 317.

    Table of Contents

    A. Manuscripts [Eigenes Werk Manuskripte]
    B. Personalia
    C. Correspondence [Briefe]
    D. Material on Parapsychology [Material zur Parapsychologie]
    E. Philosophy and Science [Archiv zu Philosophie und Wissenschaften]
    F. Contemporary History [Archiv zur Zeitgeschichte]
    G. Reprints [Sonderdrucke]
    H. Personal Library [Bibliothek]
    I. Newspapers [Zeitschriften]

    Nachlass Edith Stein

    The Nachlass of Edith Stein is kept at the Edith-Stein-Archiv, Karmel Maria vom Frieden, in Cologne (ESAK). Between 2005 and 2007, the manuscripts of Stein (approximately 25,000 pages) were digitized, stored on microfilms, and catalogued in an electronic database. Some of the scans can be viewed here.

  • Research Journal
  • Affiliated Researchers

    Prof. Dr. Ronny Miron (Bar-Ilan University)

    Prof. Dr. Antonio Calcagno (King’s University College, Western University)

    Prof. Dr. Hans Rainer Sepp (Charles University, Prague)

    Dr. Mette Lebech (Maynooth University, Dublin)

    Dr. Thomas Vongehr (Husserl Archives, KU Leuven)

    Dr. Rodney Parker (Dominican University College)

    Christian Meineke (Center HWPS, Paderborn University)

  • Public Archive
    Opening hours of our Phenomenology Archive at the Center:

    Tuesdays 10 am -12 am
    Thursdays 10 am -12 am

    and by appointment.

    These archive materials are available at the Center HWPS.

    All interested parties are welcome.

  • Stein’s and Husserl’s Intertwined Itineraries 1916-25 May 2021

    The Center History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (Paderborn University, Germany) in cooperation with the Department of Philosophy (Maynooth University, Ireland) held an international online conference, organised by Mette Lebech and Ruth E. Hagengruber, on Stein’s and Husserl’s Intertwined Itineraries 1916-25 with focus on Ideas II from May 20-21, 2021.

    Edith Stein attempted already in her doctorate to complement Husserl’s work on phenomenology by a painstaking analysis of empathy including its indispensable role in the constitution of the psycho-physical individual and the person. As Husserl’s assistant 1916-18, she famously edited in particular his Ideas II, perhaps introducing within it a view of this relationship foreign to Husserl’s. This conference attempts to shed light on this matter by bringing into focus the integrity and coherence of their respective contributions in advance of the appearance of the new and revised edition of Ideas II. The focus of this conference and its theme are on Husserl and Stein’s respective understanding of the constitution of the body, and its importance for intersubjectivity and transcendental phenomenology.

    View the conference page.

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