Louise Otto-Peters

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Louise Otto-Peters

Louise Otto-Peters (26 March 1819, Meissen – 13 March 1895, Leipzig) was a German writer, feminist, poet, journalist, and women's rights movement activist. She often wrote under the pseudonym of Otto Stern.[1] She is widely acknowledged as the founder of the organized German women's movement.[1]


Louise Otto-Peters was the daughter of a successful lawyer. She was well educated by private tutors. Both her parents died when she was young and she was forced to consider how she would earn a living. She took up writing in the 1840s producing novels, short stories, poetry, and political articles for journals.[1] She witnessed the effects of the industrial revolution taking place in Germany and supported campaigns for political and social reform. She was a friend of Robert Blum, who became a deputy to the Frankfurt Parliament following the revolution of 1848.[2]

Otto-Peters was inspired by the revolutionary ideas sweeping across Europe in 1848. In that year she founded the newspaper, Frauen-Zeitung (Women's News).[3] Its masthead bore the paper's motto: Dem Reich der Freiheit werb ich Bürgerinnen! ( "I am recruiting female citizens for the realm of freedom!"). It inspired the formation of women's circles across Germany. Frauen-Zeitung was suppressed in 1852 and Otto-Peters retired from political life for a while.[3]

In 1865, she co-founded, with Auguste Schmidt and others, the "Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenverein" (General Union of German Women) in Leipzig. The goals of the Union were stated in Otto-Peters' pamphlet Das Recht der Frauen auf Erwerb (Women's Right to Work).[3][4]

The Union had 11,000 members by 1876. Otto-Peters served as joint president, with Schmidt, for the rest of her life. They also jointly edited the house journal, Neue Bahnen (New Paths).[3]

Mein Lebensgang, poem of 1893.


  • Schloss und Fabrik (Castle and Factory) 1846
  • Speech of a German Girl 1848
  • Frauenleben der Gegenwart (The Right of Women to Participate) 1866
  • Frauenleben im Deutschen Reich (Women's Rights in the German Reich) 1876
  • Leyer und Schwert (Lyre and Sword) 1863

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c James Chastain, Ohio University
  2. ^ McMillan, University of Strathclyde
  3. ^ a b c d Brooklyn Museum database
  4. ^ André Böttger, Frauenwahlrecht in Deutschland


  1. Louise Otto-Peters Biography at Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. James Chastain, Ohio University. Accessed January 2008
  2. Louise Otto (Peters) (1819-1895) Entry at Biographies: Women's Suffrage by Professor James F. McMillan, University of Strathclyde. Accessed January 2008
  3. Brooklyn Museum DinnerParty Database of notable women. Accessed January 2008
  4. André Böttger: Frauenwahlrecht in Deutschland - ein Rückblick. In: von heute an für alle! Hundert Jahre Frauenwahlrecht. hgr. von Marjaliisa Hentilä; Alexander Schug, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, Berlin 2006, p. 62ff.

Further reading[edit]

  • Adler, Hans. "On a Feminist Controversy: Louise Otto vs. Louise Aston," in Joeres, Ruth-Ellen B. and M.J. Maynes, eds., German Women in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: A Social and Literary History. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1986: 193-214.
  • Joeres, Ruth-Ellen Boetcher. Die Anfänge der deutschen Frauenbewegung: Louise Otto-Peters. Frankfurt a/M: Fischer, 1983.
  • Joeres, Ruth-Ellen Boetcher. "Louise Otto and Her Journals: A Chapter in Nineteenth-Century German Feminism," Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur, IV (1979): 100-29.
  • Koepcke, Cordula. Louise Otto-Peters. Die rote Demokratin. Freiburg: Herder, 1981.
  • Diethe, Carol. The life and work of Germany's founding feminist Louise Otto-Peters Lewiston : Edwin Mellen Press, 2002 (in English)

External links[edit]