Historical Archive

During Ca' Foscari Tour you can visit temporary exhibition of the Historical Archive, at the ground floor of Ca' Foscari palace. During the tour visitors can access this page by using the QR code located beside the showcases.

Current exhibition: "Women at Ca' Foscari"

Exhibits - theca 1

1. Vittoria Agazzi, the first female student: 1900/1901.

The first student to enrol at the Venice Scuola Superiore di Commercio, thirty-two years after its foundation in 1868, is Vittoria Agazzi, admitted in April 1901 with matriculation number 1007 for the academic year 1900/1901.

Born on November 3, 1882 in Venice, she was privately educated and, after passing an special exam, she enrolled directly in the third year of the course for teaching English, and in the first year of the course in Italian Literature. In July 1905,  she achieved a diploma in Languages and, in November of the same year, a diploma for teaching English.

Vittoria Agazzi is also the first woman to be admitted to the School's Former Students’ Association, becoming a member on 11 July 1905. 

2. Maria Rimoldi and the others: 1901-1907.

This bulletin of the Former Students’ Association lists another five female students enrolled at Ca' Foscari starting from the following academic year.

Three enrol to study Languages: Elena Luxardo, enrolled in the first language teacher course in the autumn of 1901 (matriculation no. 1038), achieved her diploma in French in November 1906; Natalia Locatelli, who began her university career in the autumn of 1907 (matriculation no. 1357) to become a teacher of English, French and German and finished her studies in 1911; Ines Venier, another language student enrolled in 1907 (matriculation no. 1378), who, after achieving a diploma in 1911, graduated in 1915 in French and obtained a teaching diploma in English in 1917. Ines Venier is therefore the first female graduate in Languages.

Two students enrol to study Accounting and Commerce: Domenica “Nuccia" Data, enrolled in accountancy in 1904 (matriculation no. 1196), graduated in 1909 with full marks; she then went on to become teacher at the Royal Technical College for girls “M. Dionigi” and boys “A. Manuzio”, in Rome; Maria Rimoldi enrolled in 1904 (matriculation no. 1218) and achieved two degrees - one in 1906 in commerce and another in accounting in 1908. She was thus the first female graduate in Accounting and, at the same time, the first female student enrolled in Commerce. After completing her studies, Maria Rimoldi taught in the Royal Technical College for girls “Confalonieri” and for boys “Lombardini”, in Milan, and became one of the leading players in the Catholic women's movement, taking part in the debate for the new Constitutional Charter and in the fight for women's civil rights....

3. Female students are admitted to schools of commerce (law 1913).

“Women are admitted to the School in the categories of male students and listeners under the same conditions”: Article 72 of Chapter VIII - "male students and listeners" - is included in the "General Regulation on higher commercial education institutions" approved by Royal Decree of 1 August 1913. 

At the time of the approval of this Article, which, in 1913, sanctioned the admission of women to universities of commerce, Ca' Foscari had already had women enrolled in courses since 1901. The law thus arrived twelve years late to ratify the effective admission of female students to Ca' Foscari.

Although still few in absolute terms, the girls were by then part of the life of the Royal School of Commerce, so much so that, from 1910, the distinction between genders is included in the school's statistics: between 1910 and 1920, 189 female students were enrolled; in the following decade, from 1920 to 1930, the number of femal students rose to 715. And the numbers just keep on growing: between 1930 and 1940, indeed, over 3,000 female students enrolled at the school; the presence of women, first concentrated in the Language and Literature courses, became evident even on degree courses in sciences and economics. During the Second World War, in particular in the academic year 1943-1944, the number of female students (3182) exceeded that of male students (2939), then fell in the following years.

4a. Ursula Hirschmann, student from 1936 to 1939.

Ursula Hirschmann was born in Berlin on 2 September 1913 to a Jewish family. Ursula attends three universities.

In 1932, she enrolled in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Berlin, abandoning her studies after two semesters due to the increasingly severe anti-Semitic laws in Germany, which forced her to move to France. Here, she attended the Faculty of Arts at the University of Paris for the year 1934/35. Evidence of these early years of study is found in her Berlin University booklet (Studienbuch) and Paris student card (carte d'étudiant).

Her university career at Ca' Foscari began in 1936 as a student enrolled in the 3rd year in Languages (matriculation no. 8189); she graduated with honours on 30 October 1939 in German Language and Literature, with a thesis entitled "Das Erlebnis und die Dichtung bei Annette von Droste Huelshoff".

In 1935, Ursula Hirschmann married in Trieste the Italian anti-fascist and politician Eugenio Colorni, who she followed when he was sent to confinement in Ventotene in January 1939; Ursula, not being subject to restrictive measures, was able to return to Venice several times to complete her exams and graduate. In 1941, she actively participated in the disseminating, in the circles of the opposition in Rome and Milan, the Ventotene Manifesto ("Per un’Europa libera e unita", For a Free and United Europe) drafted by, among others, her husband and Altiero Spinelli. After the death of her husband, who was killed by fascists in 1944, Ursula married Altiero Spinelli and worked to form the European Federalist Movement, also founding the "Femmes pour l'Europe" association in Brussels in 1975.

4b. Ursula Hirschmann. Carte d'étudiant 1934-1935.

4c. Ursula Hirschmann. Letter to the Higher School of Economics and Trade, 1962.

5. Degree thesis in Mathematics: Rosa Anna Luppi, 1960.

Among the first women to graduate in Statistics, we remember Aldina Filippi in 1939 (thesis: Delle tavole di mortalità della Venezia tridentina, Lazio e Sicilia; Of the mortality tables of Tridentine Venice, Lazio and Sicily) and Santina De Anna who graduated with a thesis on “I fenomeni demografici del comune di Venezia nel nostro secolo; The demographic phenomena of the municipality of Venice in our century".

The female graduates in Mathematics included Rosa Anna Luppi, who graduated in 1960 with a thesis entitled "Sopra un particolare problema di code nelle aziende industriali; Above a particular problem of queues in industrial companies".

Starting in the 1960s, the number of enrolments began to increase, and women were the undisputed drivers of this growth: in the academic year 1960-1961, the number of female students reached 707 (over 30% of enrolled students), with an increase in numbers also in the faculty of economics and commerce (64). 

6. Degree thesis in Chemistry: Anna Pugli, 1982.

The first graduates in Chemistry included Zinaida Stefanova Panova in 1974, with a thesis on the Application of Mc activity coefficient function in aqueous sulphuric acid, Letizia Meregalli in 1977, with her thesis Equazione di diffusione dell'inquinamento idrico (Water pollution diffusion equation) and Anna Pugli, who graduated in 1982 with a thesis entitled Studi strutturali di composti organici clorofluorurati: spettri I.R. e caratteristiche vibro rotazionali del triclofluorometano (Structural studies of chlorofluorinated organic compounds: IR spectra and rotational vibro characteristics of triclofluoromethane).

Over the years, albeit with some interruptions, the number of female Ca’ Foscari students has increased, exceeding in the academic year 1983-84 the number of male students (7188 to 6970). Female students tend to enrol mainly in the Faculty of Languages or Arts; in the academic year 2003/04, however, the number of students enrolled in the faculty of Economics will exceed that of the students.

7. Mary Margaret Newett, Substitute Professor of English Language and Literature from 1916 to 1919.

In the early 1900s, there were very few women teaching at Ca' Foscari. The department that provides access to teaching is, once again, Foreign Languages and the students are mostly women native speakers. The first women almost all join the teaching staff as teaching assistants and collaborators in seminars and workshops.

In the autumn of 1908, the Scottish woman Lily Eglantine Marshall (1867-1931) was second among the three winners of a state competition, assessing academic qualifications and exams, to become a Professor of English at Ca' Foscari, but Ernesto Cesare Longobardi, who came first, got the job.

The first woman to actually be hired was Bianca Giordano, an English-speaking assistant, who taught only in the academic year 1914/1915. In 1916, she was succeeded by 

Exhibits - theca 2

8a. Olga Blumenthal, Assistant in German Language and Literature from 1919 to 1937.

Olga Blumenthal, born in Venice on 20 April 1873, a Jewish native German speaker, is the first assistant to be hired at Ca' Foscari for German Language and Literature. Her career continued uninterrupted until 1937 when, on the eve of the entry into force of anti-Semitic law, she was suspended from teaching because she had "passed her sixtieth year of age" and "exceeded ten years of service as teaching assistant" without have obtained a teaching post.

After being released from service, Olga continued teaching as a paid volunteer language assistant until August 1938, when anti-Semitic laws eliminated any further possibility of employment. On 1 September 1938, Olga was forced to fill in a personal declaration of race and was definitively removed from the teaching and life at the university. On 30 October 1944, Olga was arrested and detained in Venice Prison, then transferred to the Risiera di San Sabba and finally, on 28 November 1944, deported to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. There, she died on 24 February 1945 at the age of seventy-one. On 22 January 2018, eighty years after the issue of anti-Semitic laws and as part of the celebrations of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, a stumbling stone was laid in her memory under the entrance arch of Ca' Foscari, historic site of the Venetian university.

8b. Blumenthal Olga. Personal declaration of race (1938).

9. Maria Pezzé-Pascolato, Assistant in Italian Language and Literature from 1921 to 1933.

Maria Pezzé Pascolato (April 15, 1869 - February 26, 1933) was appointed assistant in Italian Language and Literature in February 1922, upon recommendation by Antonio Fradeletto, professor of the subject. She was fifty-three years old and already boasted around sixty publications and translations published between 1896 and 1921. In 1929, upon Fradeletto's death, the professorship of Italian Language and Literature was split in two: the teaching of Italian Literature was assigned to Arturo Pompeati, that of Italian Language was assigned to her with the same salary as her colleague Pompeati. Maria Pezzé Pascolato is thus the first woman at Ca' Foscari to obtain a teaching position.

Maria Pezzè Pascolato is also distinguished by her intense participation in the social and cultural life of the city. In 1897, she was accepted into the Dante Alighieri Society and was appointed Municipal Inspector for schools; in 1899, she was appointed Director of the Vendramin Corner Technical School for Girls; in 1901, she founded the Venetian Philological Circle, with the objective of improving knowledge of foreign languages; in 1921, she joined the Board of Directors of Venice University; in 1923, she was rapporteur in the Ministerial Commission charged with selecting textbooks for primary schools; in 1925, she organised, a first in Italy, a children's library, housed in the Palazzo Reale in San Marco; in 1927, she was appointed provincial delegate for Fasci Femminili (women fascists) and shortly thereafter assumed the role of Director of the National Organisation for the protection of Motherhood and Children (ONMI).

10. From student to teacher: Wanora Mancini, Assistant in Economic Policy (1926-1932).

Wanora Mancini, born in Jesi (Ancona) on 22 May 1904, enrolled in November 1921 (matriculation no. 3947) and graduated in Economics and Law in December 1925, with the thesis I cambi, i prezzi, il commercio estero e la circolazione monetaria in Italia nel 1924 (Exchange rates, prices, foreign trade and monetary circulation in Italy in 1924), under supervisor Alfonso De Pietri-Tonelli.

Winner of a competition, in February 1926 she was appointed tenured assistant to the professorship and to the Laboratory of Economic Policy directed by Alfonso de Pietri-Tonelli, where she remained until October 1932 when she became a Full Professor of Law Institution at the Royal Technical School of Rovigno (Istria).

11. Maria Nallino, Director of the Arab Seminar from 1971.

The Arabist Maria Nallino (23 January 1908 - 8 October 1974), pupil of Giorgio Levi Della Vida, became Scientific Director of the Oriental Institute in Rome in 1938; the institute was founded in 1921 in part by her father Carlo Alfonso Nallino. After a first period of teaching at the School of Oriental Studies of the University of Rome, she arrived in Venice in 1963, becoming a full professor of Arabic Language and Literature. In 1971, she was appointed Director of the Arab Seminar, a role she would hold until her death.

Following her death, there were female directors of various language seminars at Ca' Foscari, including Francesca Picchetti (Arab Seminar, 1975), Emma Stojkovic Mazzariol (French Seminar, 1982), Marinella Colummi (Italian Seminar, 1983 ) and Marcella Ciceri (Seminar of Iberian literature, 1983) who also became the Dean of the Faculty of Languages in the period 1989-1995.

12. Oplinia Merlin Hieke, Professor of Mineralogy and Geochemistry from 1974.

Oplinia Hieke, born in the province of Udine in 1915, moved to Padua to attend university, where she met Michelangelo Merlin, her future husband and colleague. In Padua, she graduated in 1938 in Natural Sciences and in 1941 in Chemistry, becoming assistant in Mineralogy, from 1939 to 1960, at the Geology School of the university.

In 1965, she was given the post of Professor of Petrography at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Bari, where she remained until 1973. She arrived in Venice as Professor of Mineralogy in 1974, entering into research programmes on the study of stone materials as well as the study of the pollution of the sediments of the Venetian lagoon and the Upper Adriatic, of the Po Delta and of the mouth of the Adige, finally directing her research towards the environment in Antarctica. She died in Padua in 2006.

13. Adriana Boscaro, from student (1966-1969) to Professor of Japanese in 1971.

Adriana Boscaro, born in Venice in 1935, attended the Japanese course organised in Venice by IsMEO (Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East) starting in 1957, before graduating from Ca' Foscari in 1969 as a student of Paolo Beonio-Brocchieri with the thesis "Il Giappone del XVI secolo: il momento socio-politico e il momento culturale nei primi contatti con l’occidente europeo" (Japan in the 16th century: the socio-political moment and the cultural moment in the first contact with the European West).

She began her career at Ca' Foscari in 1971, where she taught Japanese Language and Literature and the History of Asian Exploration. From 1980 to 1992, she was Director of the Seminar of Japanese Literature and, from 1995 to 1997, of the Department of Indological and Far Eastern Studies. From 2000 to 2003, she was coordinator of the PhD in "Indian and East Asian Civilization". She has collaborated with several national and international institutions of Japanese, for some of which holding scientific or managerial positions. She was one of the founders, in 1973, of the Italian Association for Japanese Studies (AISTUGIA), of which she has been President since 2005.

14. Maria Bergamin Barbato, Director of the Department of Economics and Business Management in 1984.

Maria Bergamin was hired at Ca' Foscari as a tenured assistant in General Accounting in 1969, becoming full Professor of General and Applied Accounting in 1980 and of Programming and Control in 1985. In 1984, she became Director of the Department of Economics and Business Management, remaining in office for two years. She held numerous institutional positions at Ca' Foscari, including the role of delegate of the Rector for the Budget and Management Control, and later for the organisation of the University, in the period 1995-2002.

In 1980, she also became a member of the National Academy of Accounting (later the National Academy of Business Economics); in 1990, she became a member of the Italian Society of Accounting History, becoming president from 2005 to 2010.

One of her most important publications is on business management control, shown here.

Past exhibitions

file pdfCa’ Foscari and Japan: 1868-1945
June 2019 - April 2020
1.34 M
file pdfTwo Antique Portolan Charts
January-May 2019
292 K
file pdfStatistics at Ca’ Foscari: Debate, Research and Teaching
May 2018 - December 2018
508 K
file pdfCa’ Foscari’s Centenary: 1868 - 1968
August 2017 - April 2018
291 K
file pdfFeliciano Benvenuti for the centenary of his birth
October 2016 - July 2017
190 K
file pdfStudent life
April - November 2016
0.93 M
file pdfCa' Foscari Illustrious guests
November 2015-March 2016
246 K
file pdfBirth of the Royal School of Commerce
May-October 2015
131 K