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Birth of "Grand lady of the southwest frontier" in New York City

September 10, 1857

Flora Langerman Spiegelberg, the "grand lady of the southwest frontier" was born on September 10, 1857. Spiegelberg was born in New York City and educated in Germany, but after marrying Willi Spiegelberg (a Southwesterner whom she met while he was visiting his parents in Germany) she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Although her husband with some other relatives had already established a prosperous mercantile business in Santa Fe, Spiegelberg, upon her arrival, found that she was only the eighth woman in town. Instead of giving into culture shock, Spiegelberg devoted herself to improving her new community.

The success of her husband's store enabled Spiegelberg to put all her energy into community service. In 1879, she helped to establish the first non-sectarian school in Santa Fe, and the following year raised $1,000 from the Santa Fe business community to purchase an acre of land for a new three-room schoolhouse. In addition, she ran not one but two religious schools: a Hebrew school on Saturdays and a Catholic Sunday school. Spiegelberg also created the first children's playground and garden in Santa Fe.

In addition to all of her efforts on behalf of Santa Fe's growing community, Spiegelberg was also a moderately successful children's writer, and some of her work was broadcast on the CBS radio network in the 1930s. In 1937, she published Reminiscences of a Jewish Bride of the Santa Fe Trail, a collection of stories from her own life.

To learn more about Flora Langerman Spiegelberg, viit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: In Focus Western Pioneers.

Sources: jwa.org/discover/inthepast/infocus/westernpioneers/flspiegelberg.html; http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/swja/v12flora.htm.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Birth of "Grand lady of the southwest frontier" in New York City." (Viewed on April 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/sep/10/1857/flora-langerman-spiegelberg>.