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Eva Ekeblad

Born July 10 1724
Died May 15 1786
Residence Stockholm and Västergötland
Citizenship Swedish
Ethnicity Swedish
Fields agronomy
Known for Making alcohol of potatoes (1746)
Influenced Reduced the hunger by making potatoes a basic food.
Notable awards Membership in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1748)
First woman in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: full member 1748-51, honorary member 1751-86.

Eva Ekeblad (10 July 1724 – 15 May 1786), née De la Gardie, was a Swedish agronomist, scientist and noble, the first female member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.



Eva De la Gardie was born to statesman count Magnus Julius De la Gardie (1668-1741) and the amateur politician and salonist Hedvig Catharina Lilje: sister of Captain Carl Julius De la Gardie and Hedvig Catharina De la Gardie and the aunt of Axel von Fersen the Younger. Her brother was the spouse of the famous Cathérine Charlotte De la Gardie and the brother-in-law of the royal favourite Hedvig Taube.

Eva was at the age of 16 (1740) married to the statesman count Claes Claesson Ekeblad, and became the mother of five children. The couple had a residence in Stockholm and an estate in Västergötland and belonged to the very highest circles of the Swedish nobility.

Ekeblad discovered how to make flour and alcohol out of potatoes and thereby made potatoes, a plant introduced in Sweden in 1658 but until then only cultivated in the greenhouses of the aristocracy, a part of the basic food supply. This greatly improved eating habits and reduced the hunger epidemics. Previously, alcohol had been made by wheat, rye and grain, but now, more of that could be saved to make bread instead.

She also discovered a method of bleaching cotton textile and yarn with soap (1751) and replacing the dangerous ingredients in the cosmetics of the time by making powder from potatoes (1752). She was said to have advertised the use of potatoes by using the flowers of the plant as hair ornaments.

Eva wrote to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences about these discoveries in 1746, and in 1748 she became the first woman elected to the Academy, although she never took part in any of the Academy's meeting. From 1751, the Academy came to consider her an honorary rather than a full member, as the statutes confined membership to men.

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