Dr. Helga Rammow was born in 1925 in Finkenwerder. When she was about three years old, her family moved to nearby Hamburg. During World War II Rammow fled the bombing to Thuringia. In 1943 she finished school and eventually had to work as a primary school assistant in Eastern Pomerania and Upper Silesia.
After World War II Rammow returned to Hamburg, where she did an apprenticeship as an office clerk. Eventually she worked at the legal department of the city hall and the administrative court of Hamburg. Due to her growing interest in foreign cultures (e.g., the cultures of ancient America) and traveling Rammow began to study Anthropology and Egyptology in 1957. Franz Termer, Wolfgang Haberland and Herbert Tischner were among her teachers.
During her studies Rammow developed a preference for material culture and the field of museum work. She graduated in 1964 and took up an assistant position at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology in Hamburg, where Erhard Schlesier had become the successor of Franz Termer. Rammow lectured (e.g., on material culture) and took care of the enquiries of a growing number of students. Between 1969 and 1973 she also was deputy chairman of the German Anthropologists Association (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde, DGV) and was involved in organizing its conferences.
In 1971 Rammow became head chairman of the Ethnological Collection of the City of Lübeck. During the following decades she not only organized various exhibitions but also established the collections extent and reputation. She furthermore worked on a new exhibition concept: Rammow emphasizes the inclusion of contemporary perspectives and educational approaches as well as the need to contextualize the exhibited objects. She also collaborated with other anthropological museums throughout Germany (e.g., Hamburg) and co-edited the journal MIF (Museum Information Forschung).
Helga Rammow retired in 1990 and became an honorary member of the German Anthropologists Association (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde, DGV) in 1995.
(portrait by courtesy of Helga Rammow)