Hedelotte, the Lab Girl


Meet Hedelotte, nicknamed Helo!

I found Hedelotte’s photo album on German ebay. Unfortunately I don’t have a surname for her, so I’ve not been able to find her papertrail in the archives. But her photo album holds some interesting clues.

Hedelotte had a younger brother Fritz, here with their fur friend. Fritz writes: “To his dear (Tai, Tai) sister for everlasting memory from your brother Fritz, in Leipzig, August 27th, 1925.”



I’m not sure if Hedelotte had other siblings. It might be that she had another sister? In this photo we can probably see Hedelotte’s family, might be even her grandmother. Hedelotte is the girl in the middle, her brother Fritz is the young man and you can also see their fur friend again.



If you are not familiar with the children’s 1st day of school traditions (called Einschulung) in Germany and German-speaking countries and regions, you may find it interesting to know that every child is gifted such a paper cone (Schultüte) by their family members on the day they start school. It is filled with candy and school utensils, practical gifts and small toys, and they come in every size. The tradition dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. The cone is presented to the child at school, but opened at home, in order to avoid situations where more well-off children may find more expensive gifts than children from financially less fortunate families.

What do you think is the meaning of the teddy bear? Perhaps a look into Hedelotte’s home? Her brother Fritz is sitting next to her.


It looks like Hedelotte was a nurse or worked at a laboratory. Here she is with her colleagues/fellow-students in 1925. The back of the photo says: Taken by Mr. Marianopolus in the yard behind the chemistry lab, May 15, 1925″


Hedelotte seemed to be very close friends with her colleagues/co-students. I wonder what profession she learnt? I gather from the photos in the album that Hedelotte’s education took place in Goslar.

She was sorely missed by her girlfriends who gifted her photographs of themselves with the wishes not to be forgotten. I especially like this one written by Irma Meinel:

“Often a cheerful glance, a kind word from you would make the clouds disappear and the sun shine. Thank you for your love, Hedelotte. You can be sure that I will miss you a lot and never forget you.”

Such a pity that I don’t have any more clues on what happened to Hedelotte as she became an adult. Some of the family photos were taken in Leipzig so I assume the family lived there. Some of Hedelotte’s friends’ photos are by photo studios in Goslar, so perhaps this is where she got her education. Until more clues are revealed, I will leave you here with this story of a forgotten face.

Perhaps you knew Hedelotte? If so, please do contact me!



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