Amalie Dietrich Exhibition Home Page A Bright Sparcs Exhibition

A German Naturalist

Amalie Dietrich was a German naturalist who helped introduce Australia's natural wonders to Europe. She spent nearly ten years (1863-1872) in the barely-settled wilds of northern Queensland, collecting for the Museum Godeffroy in Hamburg, Germany. 26 May 1996 marked the 175th anniversary of her birth.

Amalie Nelle was born in 1821 into a working-class family in the Saxon village Siebenlehn, at a time when scientists were generally upper-class, well educated and male. In 1846 she married Wilhelm August Salomo Dietrich, a frustrated doctor who had been forced into pharmacy by family circumstances. He and Amalie planned to earn their living as professional naturalists by selling their specimens to museums and collectors. Wilhelm taught Amalie a great deal about collecting, but she had also learnt much about natural remedies from her mother. For many years the Dietrichs worked in this field, collecting around Europe. They had one daughter, Charitas, born in 1848.

In 1861 Amalie discovered that her husband was having an affair, and she fled from him. Later she returned, but he took a position as a tutor to a nobleman's son, and there was no provision made for his wife or daughter. At the age of 40 Amalie had to make an independent living for herself and her daughter.

Published by the Australian Science Archives Project on ASAPWeb, 23 May 1996
Comments or corrections to: Bright Sparcs (
Prepared by: Denise Sutherland
Updated by: Elissa Tenkate
Date Modified: 27 February 1998

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