Margaret Teigen (1870-1928)

Margaret Teigen was a member of the first graduating class from Concordia College’s Practical Program.  As the only female member of the class, Teigen paved the way for other women to enroll at Concordia and believe that they too could obtain an education. Teigen continued her involvement with the college by serving on the faculty for several years following her graduation before she enrolled in medical school to become a practicing physician.  

Teigen was born on February 2, 1870 in Norway. Her family immigrated to the United States circa 1890. Teigen attended Concordia College from 1891 to 1893. She was a student of Concordia’s Practical Program which covered many topics including: English and Norwegian as well as arithmetic, geometry, geography, history, physiology, physics, pedagogics, and psychology. This course of study, later renamed the “Normal Course,” was intended to give students a broad general education. The Normal Course was the degree most often sought by people who wanted to become teachers. Although her degree comes from Concordia College, like many denominationally-based institutions established in the late nineteenth century, Concordia at this time provided secondary or normal school education rather than college instruction. [1]

Margaret Teigen was the only female member of Concordia’s first graduating class of nine students in 1893; she also received the first degree from the practical program. While many women at the turn of the twentieth century pursued higher education, few completed degree-seeking programs until after World War I - making Teigen's graduation a significant accomplishment. After earning her degree in 1893, Teigen studied education in the Minneapolis area.  In 1894 she returned to Concordia to instruct courses in arithmetic, geography, physiology, and history. [2]

Her teaching career was relatively short-lived, as she decided to pursue a medical career.  She obtained her medical education from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, graduating in 1904.  By 1906 she was a licensed physician in the state of Washington where she practiced medicine in Seattle and Everett. Her graduation from medical school was another notable accomplishment at the time. In 1910, only five percent of all medical school graduates were female. Teigen never married and lived in Washington until her death in an automobile accident on January 10, 1928. Very little is known about Teigen’s personal life. [3]

Authors: Chloe Bakkum and Layne Cole

[1] Margaret Teigen, Department of Licensing, Business and Professions Division, Physician Applications and Registers, 1833-1946, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives,, (June 27, 2016);  Margsette [sic] Teigen, 1920 Census, Seattle, King County,  roll T625_1026, page 11B, ED 132, (June 27, 2016); Margaret Teigen, Snohomish County Death Records, 1928, (Mar. 15, 2016); Concordia College Catalogue 1891-1900, Concordia College, Concordia College Archives; Richard W. Solberg, Lutheran Higher Education in North America (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Pub. House, 1985), 228.
[2] “Concordia Commencement Traditions,” Concordia College Archives, Peek Into the Past, Digital Exhibits, accessed Mar. 29, 2016,; Solberg, Lutheran Higher Education, 277; Margaret Teigen, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995, Fargo, North Dakota,, accessed Mar. 14, 2016. “Teigen, Margaret,” Faculty and Staff Card Index, Concordia College Archives.
[3] “1904 graduating class, University of Illinois College of Medicine,” Carli Digital Collections, College of Medicine Class Photos, accessed Apr. 22, 2016,; “History of Women Physicians- Timeline,” Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections, accessed Mar. 31, 2016,; Snohomish County Death Records.