Johanna Maria Andersson was known as Lundakvinnan (the woman from Lund) like her mother Elna Hansson. She was a lay woman doctor who continued her mother’s practice treating wounds and broken bones in Malmö during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Johanna Maria Andersson belonged to a family in which the women for the past six generations had worked as lay doctors or “wise women” specialising in mending broken bones and healing wounds. She learned her medical arts from her mother Elna Hansson, although she did not become as well-known as her or leave as many traces.
Johanna Maria Andersson, née Hansdotter, married Jöns Andersson in 1860. He was a clerk at the port authorities. The couple had five children but only their daughter Hedda Andersson survived childhood. The first child, a daughter born just 14 days after her parents’ wedding, died at the age of two months. Four months before the birth of the fifth child, Jöns Andersson died of meningitis, only 28 years old. Within one week around Christmas 1867, two of the children died of measles and a third of scarlet fever. Thus, at the beginning of 1868, only Johanna Maria Andersson and Hedda Andersson remained of the large family.
To avoid being denounced for quackery, as her mother Elna Hansson had been, Johanna Maria Andersson went to Stockholm to be educated as a barber-surgeon. According to her daughter Hedda Andersson, as related by Hagbard Isberg, a clergyman, Johanna Maria Andersson never needed to complete her education. The reason was that she had treated King Karl XV, who had been so impressed by her skills that he issued a certificate giving her the right to conduct her practice. Although there is no other information to support Hedda Andersson’s and Hagbard Isberg’s story, it may of course be true. Hedda Andersson is supposed to have saved the certificate that may however have been thrown away with a number of other letters and documents upon her death in 1950.
Practically no information at all is available about Johanna Maria Andersson’s practice. She was not as well-known as her mother, but to judge from her economic situation, she had an extensive practice as a doctor for broken bones and wounds. Towards the end of her life, however, she had such trouble with her joints that she was compelled to give up her work and become tied to a wheelchair. She moved to the home of her daughter Hedda Andersson in Stockholm, where she died in 1907.
Her daughter Hedda Andersson was enabled to study medicine, and in 1892 she qualified as Sweden’s second woman doctor. The seventh generation of lay women doctors thus became a legitimised medical doctor, recognised by the community at large.