Document 12: Louise Otto, "Program," Frauen-Zeitung, Ein Organ fur die Hoheren Weiblichen Interessen, no. I, 21 April 1849. Translated by Susan Groag Bell. Reprinted in Susan Groag Bell and Karen M. Offen, eds., Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, Volume I, 1750-1880 (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1983), pp. 263-64.
Louise Otto, c. 1848-1849
Source: A nineteenth-century print from Ute Gerhard, Elisabeth Hannover-Drück, and Romina Schmitter, eds.,
"Dem Reich der Freiheit werb' ich Bürgerinnen": Die Frauen-Zeitung von Louise Otto (Frankfurt: Syndikat, 1980), p. 35.
In her weekly journal, Frauen-Zeitung, Louise Otto published themes that exemplified the concerns of mid-nineteenth century feminism. Reflecting the journal's international scope in a section called "A Look Around," she printed news from women's movements in Europe and America. Calling for solidarity among women of different classes and drawing on both socialist and religious values, she wrestled with the difficulty of achieving women's political and civil emancipation without impugning women's sexual morality.
The history of all ages, especially that of the present, teaches us that those who forget to think of themselves will be forgotten! Thus I wrote in May 1848, when I was addressing myself primarily to the men who were concerned with the labor question in Saxony. I drew their attention to the poor women workers, by speaking out on behalf of my sisters so that they should not be forgotten!
The same experiences have inspired me to publish a woman's journal. In the midst of the great revolutions in which we find ourselves, women will find themselves forgotten, if they forget to think of themselves!
Come along then, my sisters, unite with me, so that we do not remain behind while everything around and about us is pressing forward and struggling. We must also demand and earn our part of the great World-Deliverance that must at last come to the whole of humanity, of which we constitute one-half.
We shall demand to have as our share the right to accomplish with all our strength and in unrestricted development that in us which is purely human, and the right to come to age and enjoy independance within the State.
We shall earn our share as follows: we shall offer our forces to advance the work of world salvation, first by promoting the great ideals of the future--Liberty and Humanity (in fact these are synonymous terms)--in all those circles that are accessible to us, in the circles of the world-at-large through the press, and in those of the immediate family through example, instruction, and education.
However, we shall also earn our part by not struggling in isolation--not everyone for herself, but rather everyone for all the others--and by concerning ourselves primarily with those women who are languishing forgotten and neglected in poverty, misery, and ignorance.
Come, my sisters, help me with this work! Help me first of all to further the ideas here suggested through this journal!
I believe I have said all that needs to be said about the aims of this journal--however, I must agree with those who whisper in my ear (contrary to the usual formula), "to be positive is not enough". I must also present some negative arguments--and I must guard myself and this journal against misunderstandings.
No! I cannot invent words to do this. You shall judge me by my life, by my work as an author since 1843--whoever knows something of this will also know that I do not belong to those so-called "emancipated" women who have discredited the phrase "women's emancipation" by devaluing woman to become a caricature of man. I would like to reassure those who as yet know nothing about me, that it is precisely through this journal that I hope to work against this error, which has often induced those very women who were the most gifted to satisfy their quest for intellectual freedom by succumbing to unbridled passion.
Neither I nor my sisterly co-workers can be included among these "emancipated ones," but we shall be proud to be considered as followers of that noble maiden from Bethany, of whom the illustrious model of all humanity has said: "Mary hath chosen the better part!"
Therefore I ask all authors, both male and female, who will enter the lists for women's rights, to support me in this undertaking by sending their contributions.
Likewise, I beg those of my sisters who are not authors to send information--first of all those oppressed ones, the poor working women. Even if they do not feel themselves to be skilled authors, I shall gladly edit their simple statements--but I am most eager that their concerns in particular should be published so that they may be the first to be helped.
I invite all of you who think alike to subscribe so that this undertaking may thrive!
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