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Martina Sofia Helena Bergman Osterberg

(1849—1915) feminist and promoter of women's physical education


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(1849–1915) Born in Sweden, Martina Bergman (later, after her marriage, known as Madame Bergman Österberg) worked initially as a governess and librarian before entering the Royal Central Gymnastics Institute, established by Per Hendrick Ling, at which the therapeutic benefit of exercise was prioritized. Moving to England as a specialist in this novel Swedish system of exercise, she became an important contributor to the provision of physical training, championing the Ling system in the London school board and, in 1885, inaugurating the Hampstead Physical Education College, and then establishing the Dartford College in Kent in 1887. The pioneering course was based on Swedish gymnastics, physiology, anatomy, and English team games. As Sheila Fletcher puts it: ‘Amid the apprehensions of national decline which prevailed around the turn of the century, she convinced the heads of countless high schools for girls that the gymnastics and games mistress—the specialist in health—had become essential’ (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004). Bergman Österberg's contribution to the professions and science of the body also indirectly generated the emergence of physiotherapy.

From A Dictionary of Sports Studies in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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