Short Portrait: Elisabeth Gerdts-Rupp

Elisabeth Gerdts-Rupp
Elisabeth Gerdts-Rupp

Elisabeth Gerdts-Rupp was born in Ravensburg/Württemberg on Nov. 23rd, 1888. Her father was a judge. At early age Gerdts-Rupp and her family moved to Stuttgart, where she eventually finished school.

In 1910 Gerdts-Rupp began to study Law in Strasbourg. She continued her studies not only in Berlin but also in Leipzig, where she moved in 1913. After completing her exams and obtaining her doctoral degree (Dr. jury.), Gerdts-Rupp moved to Berlin again. There she took up a position as a social worker.

In 1916 Gerdts-Rupp moved to Reutlingen, where she lived at her grandparents house. Throughout the following years she not only began to publish her literary work (prose and Poetry) but also - through an encounter with Hermann Hesse - had a growing interest in Indian Philosophy.

In 1922 Gerdts-Rupp moved to Argentina, where she works as a home tutor for a year. On her return trip she married the naval officer Jan Gerdts. In Germany Gerdts-Rupp took up her studies again, this time attending lectures on Geography and Anthropology at the Eberhard-Karls-University in Tübingen. Augustin Krämer was among her teachers.

Gerdts-Rupp completed her PhD thesis in 1934 and eventually undertook several journeys which lead her not only to South America and North Africa but also to the Middle East. After an extended version of her PhD thesis was published in 1937, Gerdts-Rupp took up a position at the Ethnological Museum in Hamburg.

Moreover, Gerdts-Rupp began giving unpaid lectures on Anthropology at the Eberhard-Karls-University in Tübingen in 1939. She participated at the first meeting of German anthropologists after WW II (Frankfurt/Main, 19.-21.09.1946). Only since 1947 she received payments for her continous lectureships. She also supported the establishment of the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology in Tübingen. Friedrich Kussmaul, Heinz Walter and Hermann Bausinger were among her many students.

Elisabeth Gerdts-Rupp died in Radolfzell on March, 18th, 1972.

(Text written by Vincenz Kokot in January 2012, based on BAA Prof. Riese; photo source:

further informationfurther information