WeWalk: Behind the Scenes of Opening the Way

Opening the Way is a walking tour celebrating women's history in downtown Manhattan. It is a multifaceted new project developed by the award-winning nonprofit organization Women's eNews. The walk honors the achievements of women such as Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ida B. Wells -- 21 women in all. This blog has been created to update fans of the walk on its exciting developments and expansion. Please join us in revitalizing history that has been ignored or forgotten!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ernestine Rose: An Advocate for the Rights of Married Women

Today marks the birthday of Ernestine Rose, a pioneer women’s rights advocate in the nineteenth century. Born to Jewish parents in Russian Poland in 1810, Ernestine led an unconventional life devoted to social and political reform. After her mother died when she was 16, Ernestine’s father—a rabbi—attempted to arrange his daughter’s marriage without her consent. Ernestine refused, got the marriage dissolved in civil court, and sued successfully for her mother’s inheritance. She left home in 1827 at the age of seventeen, and traveled on her own throughout several European cities, including Berlin, where Jewish entry was severely limited.

In 1832, Ernestine married a Christian man named William Ella Rose, and the two came to New York four years later. She was one of the first people in America to speak publicly about women’s rights, and the first to petition for women’s rights, beginning in 1840. Twelve years after she’d begun her activism, New York State passed the first married women’s property law in the country. Opening the Way pays tribute to the time she spent at the Broadway Tabernacle in 1853, where she spoke at the New York State Women’s Rights Convention on married women’s property rights.

Ernestine formed lifelong partnerships with other women’s rights activists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Paulina Wright Davis, and Susan B. Anthony, who often praised her efforts. Ernestine Rose was considered one of America’s first Jewish feminists, and was also a dedicated abolitionist. She died in England in 1892. 

Watch our new video footage with Gloria Jacobs, the executive director of the Feminist Press, speaking the words of Ernestine Rose at the New York meeting in 1853:

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