Month: July 2019

Resolution: Call to select the Jon Bilbao Visiting Research Fellow at The University of Nevada, Reno. List of Candidates.

The 2019 call to select Jon Bilbao Visiting Research Fellow at The University Of Nevada, Reno was published on May 31, 2019, both at Etxepare Basque Institute and Center for Basque Studies’ websites. Once the call was closed, the selection committee met on July 16, 2019. The projects of each candidate were evaluated to form a list of candidates ordered by scoring. The decision was made by the Center for Basque Studies, the Basque Library, and the Etxepare Basque Institute together.

July 20, 1818: Birth of philanthropist Casilda Iturrizar

Some of you will have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to stroll through the Doña Casilda Park in Bilbao. But do you know after whom the park was named? Casilda Margarita de Iturrizar y Urquijo was one of he most important and influential women in the city in the nineteenth century, and it is her story we recount today.

Casilda Iturrizar (1818-1900). Image by Lole, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Casilda Iturrizar (1818-1900). Image by Lole, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Although born into a family of reasonable economic means, following the bankruptcy, jail, and eventual death of her father in 1833, Casilda Iturrizar was obliged to find work and obtained a position as a servant in the household of one of Bilbao’s richest entrepreneurs and a co-founder of the historic Bank of Bilbao, Tomás José Joaquín de Epalza y Zubaran. Although married, Epalza eventually went through a lengthy divorce process, stretching from 1849 to 1857. In 1859, Casilda and Tomás were married. After his death in 1873, she started signing her name “Epalza’s widow” and, with the couple not having had any children, proceeded gradually to donate most of the incredible fortune she had inherited to worthy causes and cultural initiatives. She herself died in 1900.

 

Monument to Iturrizar in the Doña Casilda Park. Photo by Zarateman, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Monument to Iturrizar in the Doña Casilda Park. Photo by Zarateman, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

She funded the building of schools and a hospital, sponsored operatic societies and religious bodies, and created grants for deserving students from poor backgrounds as well as funding part of the original institution that would become the University of Deusto and being a major investor in the construction of the Arriaga Theater. And what is more, she also donated a significant piece of land in central Bilbao to the City Council, which ultimately became the park named in her honor that was opened in 1920.

Doña Casilda Park today. Photo by Zarateman, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Doña Casilda Park today. Photo by Zarateman, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Excluding maritime dedications, she is reputed to be the only person to have two public spaces named in her honor in Bilbao: the aforementioned park and  a street by the name of Epalza’s Widow.

July 15, 2003: Death of Luz Zalduegi, first woman veterinarian in the Basque Country

We try as much as possible here in our Flashback Friday post on the CBS blog to give a voice to overlooked figures in history. These are often women and they were invariably involved in day-to-day matters rather than major political events or wars or the like. That said, this is the essence of social history, and within the seemingly prosaic context, we have come across real treasures when it comes to individual life stories. Such is the case of Luz Zalduegi Gabilondo, born on the Osma baserri or farmstead in Mallabia, Bizkaia, on June 1, 1914.

Luz Zalduegi (1914-2003)

Luz Zalduegi (1914-2003)

Her parents encouraged all their children, two girls and two boys, to get a good education, and the family stuck together in their schooling. When the oldest of them, Miguel Félix, went to Madrid to study veterinary science in 1928, his siblings accompanied him. While both her other brother and sister ultimately decided on careers in education, Luz opted to follow in her eldest brother’s footsteps and train to be a vet (needless to say, in the 1930s this was a bold decision for a  young woman to make). She eventually graduated in 1935, only the third woman in the Spanish state to obtain the title of veterinarian, and the first Basque to do so.

As in so many of the stories we have covered here, the outbreak of the civil war in 1936 had a tremendous impact on her life. She returned to Mallabia, where she was in charge of food distribution in the town during the conflict until Franco’s troops ultimately invaded and occupied Bizkaia. She subsequently found work as a food inspector in both Bermeo (Bizkaia) and Eibar (Gipuzkoa). In 1940, she married a classmate from college, Leandro Carbonero Bravo, and the couple prepared to apply for veterinary positions in the Spanish protectorate of Morocco. However, while Leandro was accepted, she was turned down on account of her gender. The couple spent five years there, during which time she had two children and, in the event that Leandro was unavailable, carried out inspections in an unofficial capacity.

In 1945 the family moved to Madrid, where Luz found employment in the Institute of Animal Biology. In 1955, she moved to the Department of Agrarian Statistics in the Ministry of Agriculture, where she was president of the higher agrarian council between 1982 and 1984.  She never lost contact with the Basque Country and remained a qualified veterinarian in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa as well as in Madrid. The family, moreover, spent most of its summers at the ancestral baserri in Mallabia. She died on July 15, 2003.

In 1995 the Veterinarian’s Association of Gipuzkoa honored her officially and and in 2014 the town councils of Mallabia and neighboring Zaldibar carried out a public act in recognition of her work and contributions.

For more information, check out Uxune Martinez Mazaga, “Luz Zalduegi, veterinaria con convicción (1914-2003),” at the blog Mujeres con ciencia.

The CBS is committed to Basque women’s studies. If you are interested in this topic, check out Feminist Challenges in the Social Sciences: Gender Studies in the Basque Country, edited by  Mari Luz Esteban and Mila Amurrio, free to download here.

See, too, Amatxi, Amuma, Amona: Writings in Honor of Basque Women, edited by Linda White and Cameron Watson.

 

 

July 10, 1904: Birth of Ticiana Iturri, first licensed woman doctor in Bizkaia and pioneer in women’s health issues

Anyone who studies women’s history invariably comes up against the wall of conventional tropes that underscore the significance of major public events in which, routinely, women have been excluded from the central narrative. When it comes to documenting and interpreting the lives of women in the past, then, one must frame the study within different sets of analytical parameters that emphasize an extra dimension that women have faced historically in stepping outside socially prescribed roles as wives, mothers, daughters, and so on. Ticiana Iturri Landajo, born in Portugalete, Bizkaia, on July 10, 1904, is one such example. Her story is, in many ways, modest, within the aforementioned terms of the “big” events in history; yet framed another way, her achievements and contributions to Basque society are inumerable.

Tician Iturri Landajo (1904-1969).

Tician Iturri Landajo (1904-1969).

Iturri was born into a middle-class family in Portugalete, one of the significant industrial and maritime centers flanking Bilbao during the city’s spectacular economic boom of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although the family moved to Seville when she was still very young on account of her father’s work, it retained close ties with Bizkaia, returning each summer to vacation there. After completing her medical studies in Madrid, she obtained an official post as a consultant doctor in Bizkaia. She was officially approved as member number 553 in the medical association of Bizkaia in 1932, the first woman member, and opened a clinic in Bilbao specializing in pediatrics, gynecology, and obstetrics.

As the first licensed woman doctor in Bizkaia, she faced significant opposition and criticism from the more traditionalist members of her profession. In general, though, she was supported by the medical association and most of her peers. A noted feminist, through the 1930s she worked intensively on many women’s issues, and was especially active in defending the rights of single mothers. She also collaborated in the Basque nationalist women’s group, Emakume Abertzale Batza, through which she organized nursing classes. After the war, she worked in the School of Pediatrics in Bilbao, where she helped to improve hygiene measures, and in 1955 she obtained a position as a gynecologist in  the official social welfare system of her home province.

She dedicated the rest of her life to her work and the reproductive rights of women, especially single mothers. She died in 1969.

In recognition of her contribution to women’s health issues in Bizkaia, the medical association of Bizkaia named the classrooms on the fourth floor of its headquarters the “Iturri classrooms.”

June 30, 1834: Deadly floods ravage Gipuzkoa

Although a land accustomed to used periods of intense, heavy rain, there have also been infamous examples of major flooding in the Basque Country. One such example occurred on June 30, 1834 in the Deba Valley of Gipuzkoa, and came to be known as the San Martzial Urak, the “Saint Martial Waters” (coinciding with the feast day of Saint Martial).

Source of the River Deba, near the Hermitage of Saint Columba, in Dorleta, Leintz Gatzaga. Photo by Javierme. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Source of the River Deba, near the Hermitage of Saint Columba, in Dorleta, Leintz Gatzaga. Photo by Javierme. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The River Deba forms one of the river valleys so typical of the maritime zone in the Basque Country. That June day, a major summer storm hit the valley, swelling the waters of the Deba and its tributaries to breaking levels. In the town of Antzuola, one of the worst affected places, water levels rose to nearly 15 feet in the main square and one whole neighborhood was completely flooded, uprooting 1,500 trees, destroying various homes, mills, the portico of the parish church,  and the public school, among other major damage.

Alongside Antzuola, the worst-affected towns were Leintz-Gatzaga, Eskoriatza, Aretxabaleta, Arrasate, Bergara, Soraluze, and Elgoibar. In sum, throughout the valley, nineteen mills, twenty-two bridges, seventy-six buildings, and three churches were completely destroyed and major damage done to many other edifices. As regards the human cost, many people took refuge in churches, pleading for clemency, although several of these sites were among the worst hit places.

"The water of the terrible flood of the River Deba, on June 30, 1834, reached this point." Inscription on the wall of the parish church of Santa Marina in Bergara.

“The water of the terrible flood of the River Deba, on June 30, 1834, reached this point.” Inscription on the wall of the parish church of Santa Marina in Bergara.

In the aftermath of the disaster, it was calculated that eighty-nine people had been killed by the floods–seventy-six of whom had been washed downstream and whose bodies appeared on the beach in the town of Deba itself.

Source: K.O., “La inundación más catastrófica se produjo el 30 de junio de 1834,” Diario Vasco, February 23, 2014.