Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon

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Birgit Spångberg



Birgit Spångberg was the first woman in Sweden to be chair of a lower court.

Birgit Spångberg was born in Stockholm in 1900. She was the daughter of the editor Valfrid Spångberg, an at the time well-known journalist and author, and his wife Ina, who was an actor. Birgit Spångberg obtained her school-leaving certificate from the Åhlin school in Stockholm in 1920. She then went on to read law at Stockholm högskola (later: Stockholm University). In May 1925 she gained her Bachelor of law.

After completing her studies Birgit Spångberg was taken on as a district court legal clerk within Askim, Hising and Sävedal rural jurisdiction. During the 1920s the district court in Askim was known for being progressive and innovative with regard to legal procedure. From 1923 to 1929 the district judge was Karl Schlyter, who later became not only president of the Court of Appeal but also Minister for Justice. He also belonged to a group of lawyers who actively worked toward reforming the current procedural code. Karl Schlyter was an eager enthusiast of reform and within Askim district court new procedural regulations were enacted long before the great reform of procedural code came into force nationwide in 1948. Karl Schlyter was also favourable toward female legal practitioners. The “behörighetslag” (law of access) in 1923 had legalised women’s access to the position of district court legal clerks, and it was no coincidence that Askim district court was one of the first in Sweden to employ female clerks. Birgit Spångberg was one of these women and she began her career in Askim. In February 1926 Birgit Spångberg was hired as an extraordinary clerk in Göta Court of Appeal. Only one woman had been employed at the Court of Appeal before her.

Birgit Spångberg was also the first female legal practitioner in Sweden to be appointed as a pronouncing judge. In 1926 regulations had been introduced which stated that a female clerk who had served for a minimum of six months at the Court of Appeal could be appointed to sit as the chair of a district court if she was approved for such an appointment. Birgit Spångberg gained such approval and on 31 August 1926 she pronounced the judgement in about ten cases at Askim district court.

Following her stint at Askim district court Birgit Spångberg served in the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs from 1928 onwards, where she was appointed chief assistant in 1932, and on several occasions she held positions including chancellery secretary and chancellery advisor.

In 1936 Birgit Spångberg was awarded a scholarship which enabled her to spend a year working at the international employment office in Geneva. While she was travelling home to Stockholm Birgit Spångberg developed a lung infection. She died suddenly in Copenhagen on 11 September 1937, aged 37. She is buried at the Norra cemetery in Solna.

Elsa Trolle Önnerfors
(Translated by Alexia Grosjean)

Published 2018-03-08

You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Birgit Spångberg,, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Elsa Trolle Önnerfors), retrieved 2024-07-13.

Family Relationships

Civil Status: Unmarried
  • Mother: Jenny Kristina Vilhelmina, kallad Ina, Spångberg, född Bock
  • Father: Karl Valfrid Spångberg
  • Brother: Lars Olof, kallad Olle, Spångberg


  • Högskola, Stockholm: Juridikstudier , Stockholms högskola


  • Profession: Tingsnotarie, Askims, Hisings och Sävedals domsaga
  • Non-profit work: Extra ordinarie hovrättsnotarie, Göta hovrätt
  • Profession: Tjänsteman, Socialdepartementet


  • Birthplace: Stockholm
  • Stockholm
  • Genève, Schweiz
  • Place of death: Köpenhamn, Danmark