Mathilde Franziska Giesler Anneke

On this date in 1817, Mathilde Franziska Giesler Anneke was born in Westphalia. The first of 12 children, Mathilde was raised a devout Catholic. After she fought to annul an early, unhappy marriage, Mathilde married Prussian artillery officer Fritz Anneke in 1847. When he was imprisoned, she published a censored revolutionary journal and became a radical freethinker.

The couple fled after the failed German revolutions of 1848 and 1849, settling briefly in Milwaukee, where Mathilde launched a radical German-language freethinker’s journal dedicated to women’s emancipation. She continued publishing from New Jersey. Eventually she returned to Milwaukee, where she protested alcohol, clericalism and nativism, also co-founding a suffrage group in 1869 and a highly regarded German-language girls school. (D.1884)

Freedom From Religion Foundation