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.
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.