Cornelia Catharina de Lange
Biography of Cornelia Catharina de Lange
Cornelia Catharina de Lange crossed the prejudices of her time, studying to become a physician. She worked for half a century to improve the healthcare of children.
Cornelia Catharina de Lange was born in Alkmaar and received her education in that town, attending the hogere burgerschool - the Citizen's high school. She then wanted to study medicine, but in accordance with the views of the time her father considered the medical profession inappropriate for a woman, and wanted his daughter to study chemistry. She commenced her chemical studies at the University of Amsterdam in 1891, but subsequently changed courses as her father had changed his opinion, and graduated in medicine in 1897. She was conferred doctor of medicine the same year.
Cornelia de Lange settled as a general practitioner in Amsterdam, with a special interest in paediatrics. After a four month visit to the Kinderspital in Zurich, she established her own paediatric reception, soon busy and highly appreciated by Dutch mothers. In 1907 she was appointed physician to the Emma Kinderziekenhuis, where a new infants ward was established on her initiative.
When the chair of paediatrics became vacant in 1927 Cornelia de Lange was the obvious candidate. She held tenure until 1938, when she resigned, disappointed that paediatrics had not been given the position she considered necessary for giving medical students the knowledge they would be needing in their future. She then returned to the Emma Kinderziekenhuis, where she remained until her death in 1950, at the age of 79.
Cornelia de Lange made significant contributions in paediatric neurology. She undertook her own pathological and histological studies and published several books as well as some 250 papers. As a teacher she influenced many of her students to choose a career in paediatrics. She was a warm, modest, sober person with great sympathy for her patients and she took a keen interest in all aspects of childhood, illness and health. For 33 years she was physician to the Beth-Palet hospital for unwed mothers.
During the years 1943-1946 61 of her clinical lectures were published in three parts, titled Zieke kinderen.