Bertha Rayner Frank

July 16, 1847–November 28, 1913

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Bertha Rayner Frank until we are able to commission a full entry.

This illustration by Frederick Burr Opper appeared in the May 11, 1881 edition of <i>Puck Magazine</i>.

The caption of the illustration reads, "A Hint to the Hebrews: How They May Make Themselves Independent of the Watering Place Hotels."

Bertha Rayner Frank became the epicenter of a national debate on anti-Semitism when she forced an Atlantic City hotel to publicly apologize for refusing to serve Jews. Educated privately, Bertha Rayner Frank married Dr. Samuel Leon Frank in 1869 but fell ill in the 1870s and spent the rest of her life struggling with chronic pain and illness. Despite this, she remained involved in the community by supporting numerous charities such as the Federated Jewish Charities of Baltimore, the Working Girls’ Home, and Daughters of Israel, a direct service organization founded in 1890. In fact, her giving often exceeded her means: having donated her estate after her husband’s death, she had only a small annuity for herself and often dipped into that for further donations to important causes. In 1907, while staying at the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, she was told that her nieces would be barred from the hotel based on their Jewish appearance. The New York Times used the case to discuss widespread discrimination against Jews, but although the hotel quickly apologized to Frank, such policies continued for decades more across the country.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Bertha Rayner Frank." (Viewed on May 18, 2024) <>.