This Week in History


Esther Lederer becomes Ann Landers

October 16, 1955
Esther Lederer, aka Ann Landers
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Esther Lederer, known as Ann Landers, in Chicago, 1983. Photo by Alan Light.

Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer, writing as Ann Landers, had her first advice column published in the Chicago Sun Times on October 16, 1955. By the end of Lederer’s life, Ann Landers had become the world’s most widely syndicated column, published in more than 1,200 publications and with more than 90 million readers around the world.

When Esther Lederer and her husband moved to Chicago in the 1950s, she contacted a family friend at the Chicago Sun Times to see whether the columnist Ann Landers needed any help in writing her column. The Sun Times was in the process of finding a replacement writer for the column, and Lederer took over as the new Landers, a name that would remain with her for the rest of her life. Because Lederer had been involved in politics and had volunteered extensively, she was very well connected, and her column reflected these connections. Lederer was able to solicit advice from experts in many different fields. From her column, Landers openly opposed racism and anti-Semitism, and devoted much space to fighting injustice. Lederer's identical twin sister, Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips gained equivalent renown as a sage advice-giver as author of the column "Dear Abby."

Lederer continued to write as Ann Landers for 46 years, until her death in 2002.

To learn more about Esther Lederer, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: This Week in History July 4, 1918, The Birth of Advice-Givers Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren; "On Being a Jewish Mother, Professionally", Jewesses with Attitude; Queen Esther: a Purim Heroine.

Source: Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 789-790.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Esther Lederer becomes Ann Landers." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <>.