University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Elvira Rawson de Dellepiane (1867-1954)

Biographical Information

Born in Junín, Argentina on April 19, 1867, into a family related to the father of Argentine history, dean Gregorio Funes, Rawson de Dellepiane grew up in a tightly knit community that took care of its own, whether rich or poor. Experiencing this compassion and equality profoundly influenced her choice of careers. She became a doctor, the second woman to receive the degree in Argentina, and an activist for women's and children's rights.

She entered Buenos Aires' medical school and received her diploma on the 29th of September 1892 upon the completion of her thesis "Apuntes sobre higiene de la mujer". As a hospital intern, she joined other students to care for injured soldiers in the Revolución del Parque in 1890.

With her degree in hand, Rawson de Dellepiane practiced medicine and began a lifelong career promoting health as a medical inspector for both the Departamento Nacional de Higiene (1907-1918) and the Consejo Nacional de Educación (1919-1934). While in these positions, she promoted numerous projects including establishing the first school cafeteria in Argentina.

Argentina guaranteed few rights for women in the early 20th Century. Recognizing that organizing was an effective approach to press for these rights, she helped to establish the Centro Feminista in 1905. The Centro later changed its name to the Centro Juana Manuela Gorriti to soften its radical image. 1910 brought the first efforts to promote the reform of the civil code to include women's rights. Rawson de Dellepiane led this movement with the support of other women's groups. The following quote from a speech she argues that women contributed the Argentina's society and answered to its laws, so they should have full rights.

"Queremos todos los derechos politicos debiendo ser tantos electoras como elegidas, porque desde que pagamos impuestos, trabajamos en el progreso del país y somos responsables ante las leyes, debemos poder legislar en todo lo que atañe a la grandeza de nuestra Patria..."

Font, Miguel J. La mujer: Encuesta feminista. Buenos Aires, 1921. p. 79

Her commitment to women's rights led her to found the Asociación Pro-Derechos de la Mujer in 1919 along with the Argentine writer, Alfonsina Storni, and others. The group's objectives included ridding the civil code of articles that established differences between the sexes, promoting equal pay and The Association's presence was recognized by the major Argentine political parties of the day, although few policy changes occurred due to this attention.

Rawson de Dellepiane died on June 4th, 1954 at the age of 87. The mother of seven children, she might also be considered the mother of women's rights in Argentina.

Return to top of page

Description of Archival Collection (MSH/LAT 0045)

The archive contains professional correspondence of Elvira Rawson de Dellepiane documenting her political activity as one of the leading feminists of twentieth-century Argentina. There are also papers of the Asociación Pro-Derechos de la Mujer, founded by Rawson de Dellepiane in 1919.

A finding aid for the Elvira Rawson de Dellepiane Papers is available. More detailed inventories of the correspondence and other collection holdings are also available on request.

Return to top of page


Calvera, Leonor, 1942-. Mujeres y feminismo en la Argentina. Buenos Aires: Grupo Editor Latinoamericano, 1990. (Hesburgh Library, General Collection: HQ 1533 .C35 1990)

Carlson, Marifran, 1942-. Feminismo! The woman's movement in Argentina from its beginnings to Eva Perón. Chicago: Academy Chicago, 1988. (Hesburgh Library, General Collection: HQ 1533 .C28 1988)

Font, Miguel J., ed. La Mujer: encuesta feminista argentina. Buenos Aires: Costa Hnos., 1921. (Hesburgh Library, General Collection: HQ 1533 .M85 1921)

Lavin, Asunción. Women, feminism, and social change in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, 1890-1940. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995. (Hesburgh Library, General Collection: HQ 1532 .L38 1995)

López, Jeannette. La mujer y la historia argentina. Buenos Aires: Editorial Plus Ultra, 1991. (Hesburgh Library, General Collection: HQ 1532 .L67 1991)

Marx, Jutta. Mujeres y partidos políticos: de una masiva participación a una escasa representación, un estudio de caso. Trans. Elisabet Gerber. Buenos Aires: Legasa, [1992]. (Hesburgh Library, General Collection: HQ 1532 .M37 1992)

Sosa de Newton, Lily. Diccionario biográfico de mujeres argentinas: aumentado y actualizado. 3rd ed. Buenos Aires: Plus Ultra, 1986. (Hesburgh Library: General Collection, CT 3290 .S67 1986)

Return to top of page