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Elena Cormaro Piscopia
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    (June 5, 1646-July 26, 1684)
    Born in Venice, Italy
    Attended the University of Padua and is believed to be the first woman to graduate from college and the first woman to earn a PhD
    Learned Latin & Greek by age seven and later mastered; Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Arabic in addition to her native Italian
    Taught mathematics on the university level.
    Also composed music and wrote poetry
    Received the title, Oraculum Septilingese translated as Master of Seven Laguages
    Also studied; mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, and theology
    Played the harpsichord; clavichord, harp, and violin and was an accomplished singer
    Subject of the biography, The Lady Cormaro: Pride and Prodigy of Venice
    Subject of a stained glass window in Vassar College's library (pictured)
    Few of her writings survive. Mostly poems and letters, but almost nothing of her scholarly writings.
    Her body was dug up and reburied years after her death.
    She wanted to become a nun but when her father refused she had to take secret private vows.
    She was 'royalty.'
    She probably wouldn't have accomplished anything near what she did if her father hadn't been loaded.
    She was freaking brilliant!.
    Her mother was her father's mistress and she had to overcome the stigma of being born out of wedlock in a very judgmental society.
    She originally wanted to earn her PhD in theology but the sexist attitude of the local bishop forced her to accept a PhD in Philosophy instead.
    She never married.
    Famous in her own time, (an estimated 30,000 people attended the examination for her PhD) she is for the most part forgotten today, including by those who one would think want to publicize her incredible accomplishments.
    She became part of multiple academic societies which were previously closed to women and became president of one, the Venetian society, Academia dei Pacifici.
    She may have been the first woman to teach mathematics on the university level.
    A devout Catholic, she dedicated the later years of her life to serving the poor.
    She died young and painfully of tuberculosis at 38.

Credit: tom_jeffords

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