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A Practical Illustration of "Woman's Right to Labor" A Letter from Marie E. Zakrzewska, M.D. Late of Berlin, Prussia   By: (1829-1902)

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[Transcriber's Note: Footnotes have been renumbered and moved to the end.]

A Practical Illustration of "Woman's Right to Labor;"


A Letter from Marie E. Zakrzewska, M.D. Late of Berlin, Prussia

Edited By

Caroline H. Dall,

Author of "Woman's Right To Labor," "Historical Pictures Retouched," &c. &c.

"Whoso cures the plague, Though twice a woman, shall be called a leech."

"And witness: she who did this thing was born To do it; claims her license in her work."

Aurora Leigh.


To the Hon. Samuel E. Sewall, Faithful Always To "Women And Work," and One of the Best Friends of The New England Female Medical College, The Editor Gratefully Dedicates This Volume.

"The men (who are prating, too, on their side) cry, 'A woman's function plainly is ... to talk.'"

"What He doubts is, whether we can do the thing With decent grace we've not yet done at all. Now do it."

"Bring your statue: You have room."

"None of us is mad enough to say We'll have a grove of oaks upon that slope, And sink the need of acorns."


It is due to myself to say, that the manner in which the Autobiography is subordinated to the general subject in the present volume, and also the manner in which it is veiled by the title, are concessions to the modesty of her who had the best right to decide in what fashion I should profit by her goodness, and are very far from being my own choice.

Caroline H. Dall.

49. Bradford Street, Boston, Oct. 30, 1860.

Practical Illustration of "Woman's Right to Labor"

It never happens that a true and forcible word is spoken for women, that, however faithless and unbelieving women themselves may be, some noble men do not with heart and hand attempt to give it efficiency.

If women themselves are hard upon their own sex, men are never so in earnest. They realize more profoundly than women the depth of affection and self denial in the womanly soul; and they feel also, with crushing certainty, the real significance of the obstacles they have themselves placed in woman's way.

Reflecting men are at this moment ready to help women to enter wider fields of labor, because, on the one side, the destitution and vice they have helped to create appalls their consciousness; and, on the other, a profane inanity stands a perpetual blasphemy in the face of the Most High.

I do not exaggerate. Every helpless woman is such a blasphemy. So, indeed, is every helpless man, where helplessness is not born of idiocy or calamity; but society neither expects, provides for, nor defends, helpless men.

So it happened, that, after the publication of "Woman's Right to Labor," generous men came forward to help me carry out my plans. The best printer in Boston said, "I am willing to take women into my office at once, if you can find women who will submit to an apprenticeship like men." On the same conditions, a distinguished chemist offered to take a class of women, and train them to be first class apothecaries or scientific observers, as they might choose. To these offers there were no satisfactory responses. "Yes," said the would be printers, "we will go into an office for six months; but, by that time, our oldest sisters will be married, and our mothers will want us at home."

"An apprenticeship of six years!" exclaimed the young lady of a chemical turn. "I should like to learn very much, so that I could be a chemist, if I ever had to ; but poison myself for six years over those 'fumes,' not I." It is easy to rail against society and men in general: but it is very painful for a woman to confess her heaviest obstacle to success; namely, the weakness of women . The slave who dances, unconscious of degradation on the auction block, is at once the greatest stimulus and the bitterest discouragement of the antislavery reformer: so women, contented in ignominious dependence, restless even to insanity from the need of healthy employment and the perversion of their instincts, and confessedly looking to marriage for salvation, are at once a stimulus to exertion, and an obstacle in our way... Continue reading book >>

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