Agnes Scott College

Kate Sperling Fenchel

December 21, 1905 - December 19, 1983

Born in Berlin, Germany. Studied mathematics, philosophy, and physics at the University of Berlin from 1924 to 1928. She was encouraged to write a thesis, but she could not afford to continue her studies and research jobs for women appeared to be difficult to obtain. Thus she never received a Ph.D. in mathematics. From 1931 to 1933 she taught mathematics at the high school level, but was fired when the Nazis came to power in Germany because she was Jewish. She emigrated to Denmark with Werner Fenchel, a former fellow student, and the two married in December, 1933. Fenchel worked from 1933 to 1943 for a Danish mathematics professor. In 1943 she had to escape to Sweden with her husband and 3-year old son while Germany occupied Denmark. They returned to Denmark after the end of the war. Fenchel held a part-time lecturer's job at Aarhus University, Denmark, from 1965-1970.

Fenchel did research in finite nonabelian groups and published several papers, the last at the age of 73.


  1. Hoyrup, Else. "Kate Fenchel," in Women of Mathematics: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook, edited by Louise Grinstein and Paul Campbell, Greenwood Press, 1987.
  2. MathSciNet [subscription required]
  3. Author Profile at zbMath