Ingeborg Aas

Ingeborg, maiden name Flagstad, was a farmer's daughter from Hedemarken. Back then it was not very common for women to pursue academic careers, but Ingeborg did. She passed the artium exam [corresponding to graduating upper secondary school today] at Hamar in 1896, and the census for 1900 entered her as a student of medicine living in rooms in the capital. She passed her medical examinations in 1903. "Doctor" at that time was virtually only a male professional title, and it was only ten years earlier that Norway had had its first female doctor. In 1920 Norway had no more than 59 female doctors, so Ingeborg clearly belongs among the pioneers in this field.
After an internship period she came to Trondheim in 1905. In the same year she had married Arne Olaf Aas, also a student of medicine. He was the son of a merchant in Trondheim, and this probably explains why Ingeborg worked mostly in Trondheim.
Arne Olaf was employed as a doctor for long periods of time with Norsk jern- og metallarbeiderforbund [The Norwegian union of iron and metalworkers]. Ingeborg had a private practice, and the two of them were typical "east-end doctors". They settled on Innherredsveien, where they eventually became a family of four. Health and hygiene among the working-class population remained Ingeborg's primary medical concern. A very committed woman, she undertook enlightenment activities in fields such as abortion, alcohol, tobacco, epidemics, hygiene and housing. An active politician, she represented Venstre [the Liberal Party] on the city council and school board. She was a member of the national Penal Code Committee from 1922 to 1933, and she was also a Norwegian delegate in the League of Nations.
Ingeborg Aas had close ties to Østbyen Sanitetsforening [organisation of voluntary women providing supplies and care to the needy], which was founded in 1911. The organisation had its base at Gråmølna, Innherredsveien 20. Fighting tuberculosis was a main concern, and a food station was in operation from 1927. Aas was the head of the organisation from 1918 to 1944. No wonder that she became an institution and legend in the city districts where she worked. The road named in her honour is, however, in another city district, Risvollan.
Recommended reading: Marte Mona: Berømte og gløymde trondheimskvinner [Famous and forgotten women from Trondheim]. Samlaget, 2004.

Author: Einar Rædergård