Christine von Oertzen

Senior Research Scholar (Since 2005)

PD Dr.

My work considers gender relations in society and science. Entitled The Pleasure of a Surplus Income(2007), my first monograph explored gender politics and social change in West Germany. The focus of my second book, Science, Gender, and Internationalism: Women's Academic Networks, 1917–1955(2014), was the creation and maintenance of female academic networks in western Europe and North America from the late-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. A project website provides an online biographical database of the many actors figuring in the book.

My recent publications have extended my interest in gender and science to the material culture of collecting, compiling, and visualizing data. I am currently researching manual and machine processing of nineteenth-century census data, as well as the at-home observation of infants. Technologies of Orderliness traces the emergence of data driven methods in nineteenth-century population statistics. Citizen Science of the Mind explores at-home observation, note-taking, and data compilation on the minds of infants in the context of fin-de-siècle efforts to unlock humanity’s evolutionary roots.

Since 2012, I have co-organized four working groups within Department II, resulting in the following co-edited publications: Beyond the Academy: Histories of Gender and Knowledge (with Maria Rentetzi and Elizabeth Watkins) and Data Histories (with Elena Aronova and David Sepkoski). Working With Paper: Gendered Practices in the History of Knowledge (with Carla Bittel and Elaine Leong). The History of Bureaucratic Knowledge (with Sebastian Felten). (with Sebastian Felten) is currently in preparation and will be published in 2020.

I earned my PhD at the Free University of Berlin in 1998. Subsequently, I taught at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Women and Gender at the Technical University in Berlin. From 2002 to 2005, I was a Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC. In 2009, I joined the faculty of the History Department at the Technical University Braunschweig as a Privatdozentin. I am a member of the advisory boards of the journals WerkstattGeschichte (since 2001) and NTM (since 2018). I serve as the representative of the researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science to the Social Science and Humanities Section of the Max Planck Society (2012-2019).


No current projects were found for this scholar.

Beyond the Academy: Histories of Gender and Knowledge


Citizen Science of the Human Mind: At-Home Baby Observers in Gilded Age America


Gender Studies of Science


Historicizing Big Data


History of Bureaucratic Knowledge


Housewifery Skills, Paper Technologies, and Labor Division in Nineteenth-Century Census Compilation


Machineries of Data Power: Manual Versus Mechanical Census Compilation in Nineteenth-Century Europe


Machines of Memory. The Archival Technologies and the Genealogy of Datapower (17th- 20th Century)


Selected Publications

Oertzen, C. v. (2019). Baby Ruth. In M. Fend, A. Te Heesen, C. v. Oertzen, & F. Vidal (Eds.), Surprise: 107 variations on the unexpected (pp. 299-301). Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

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Fend, M., Te Heesen, A., Oertzen, C. v., & Vidal, F. (Eds.). (2019). Surprise: 107 variations on the unexpected. Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

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Oertzen, C. v. (2019). Keeping Prussia's house in order: census cards, housewifery, and the state's data compilation. In C. Bittel, E. Leong, & C. v. Oertzen (Eds.), Working with paper: gendered practices in the history of knowledge (pp. 108-123…

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Bittel, C., Leong, E., & Oertzen, C. v. (2019). Paper, gender and the history of knowledge. In C. Bittel, E. Leong, & C. v. Oertzen (Eds.), Working with paper: gendered practices in the history of knowledge (pp. 1-14). Pittsburgh: University…

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Oertzen, C. v. (2007). The pleasure of a surplus income: part-time work, gender politics, and social change in West Germany, 1955-1969. New York [u.a.].

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Oertzen, C. v. (1999). Teilzeitarbeit und die Lust am Zuverdienen. Geschlechterpolitik und gesellschaftlicher Wandel in der Bundesrepublik, 1948-1969. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht.

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Oertzen, C. v. (2007). Völkerverständigung durch akademische Vernetzung: die International Federation of University Women 1919-1945. In E. Schöck-Quinteros, A. Schüler, A. Wilmers, & K. Wolff (Eds.), Politische Netzwerkerinnen: internationale Zusammenarbeit von Frauen 1830-1960 (pp. 333-356). Berlin: Trafo.

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UWIND Database


Feature Stories


Institute's Colloquium

The Honesty of Numbers: Building Trust with Paper in Nineteenth-Century Statistics


Solstice Celebrations: Ein Fest für Raine Daston


Citizen Science in Historical Perspective

Predoc Konferenz

Land Ahoy!


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

The Here and Now in Numbers: Census Compilation and Data Visualization in Nineteenth-Century Prussia

Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica,Taiwan
The Many Hands that Work with Paper: Towards a Socio-Material History of Knowledge

College of Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei
Papier als Werkzeug: Eine soziomaterielle Geschichte des Wissens

Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Kulturwissenschaften, Ringvorlesung "Schrift/Bild/Sound"