Born in a time when few women were allowed to hold senior scientific positions, Lehmann had an extraordinary career: In 1925 she was appointed Head of the Seismic Section at the Danish Geodetic Institute, where she published evidence for the Earths inner core in 1936. During her time at the Institute she also served as an executive member on most of the European seismic organisations. After her retirement in 1953 she continued her work at research institutions in the USA and in 1964 proved a velocity discontinuity at a depth of 200 km, known today as the ‘Lehmann Discontinuity’. But despite her scientific success she has remained on the periphery of the male-dominated Danish scientific milieu.
To coincide with the 125th anniversary of Lehmann’s birth, the aim of this project is to write the first historical biography of Inge Lehmann, based upon a previously unknown collection of letters and documents. The project will take a biographical approach to her life and career, and it is envisaged that the personal information will also serve as a lens, revealing the much larger story of how international seismology developed from a small, obscure discipline to a science with powerful geopolitical implications. Thereby, Lehmann’s career can be contextualised into a wider framework of discipline development, international politics and gender studies.