About the SchwimmerBlog

As an English language major, I became interested in the pre-WW1 history of national and international feminism in 2006. At the beginning I got engaged with the works of English and American female writers and poets mostly, and since 2011 I also deal with the history of the Hungarian feminist movement prior to 1918. Together with the outlining of the activities of the Hungarian Association of Female Clerks (NOE, 1896, Budapest) and the Hungarian Feminist Association (FE, 1994, Budapest), my scope of interest turned to the path of life of its leaders, too. As common traits, two things can be stated: the majority of the members are unfairly neglected by the national academic world and public opinion, therefore, we scarcely have information regarding their lives or activities in the women’s movements. Sadly, our knowledge about them, except for one person, will remain to be vague since their estates were left to us in a severely fragmented state, or nothing survived at all.

An exception is Rózsa (Bédy-)Schwimmer (1877, Budapest–1948, New York), later became widely known as Rosika Schwimmer. She took an active leading part in the Hunarian Association of Female Clerks, the Hungarian Feminist Association and also in international women’s and peace movements. For years, I have tried to put together the mosaic pieces of her life with more or less success, based on the sources of public collections in Budapest and Vienna. However, in 2017 I got a huge opportunity: I had the chance to conduct a two-month research on Schwimmer’s written records, which constituted of almost 50 linear meters of documents kept in the New York Public Library (NYPL). While the milieu of international and Budapest golden age feminism increasingly captivated me, I was and still am baffled by the question that how could the national academic discipline of history leave such a valuable material almost completely unprocessed? Besides the many defining female characters of history, why did not anybody feel that such a personality is worth of devoting a (longer) biography to? Regardless of the enormous work which the examination of her papers takes, I aim to be as knowledgeable about them as possible in order to form a more detailed picture about the following issues: How could a female clerk coming from a southern land Jewish family become the press secretary of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA)? What were the obstacles and challenges that a young provincial girl had to face so that she could make a living as a journalist? How Schwimmer and Vilma Glücklich, the first woman to apply to the University of Budapest, were brought together by accident, and under what circumstances did they establish the Hungarian Feminist Association? Furthermore, how could Schwimmer become the first female envoy, whom was delegated to Switzerland by the Károlyi government at the end of 1918? And finally, how did Rosika and her sister Franciska spend the everyday lives of emigrants beset with difficulties in Austria, the former imperial city in 1920 and from 1921, in the USA?

On the Blog, I share sources concerning Schwimmer’s personal life and work in the associations, and in the peace movement. The majority of the materials are from the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the NYPL, and a minor part is from the archives of the Hungarian Feminist Association, located in the National Archives of Hungary, Budapest. The letters written to and by Schwimmer, her diary notes, articles and the documentation of the association were written in German, English, occasionally in French and Italian, besides Hungarian, of course. I decided not to translate the foreign language sources to Hungarian, consequently they will be published in their original form. I do this in the hope that this way they could provide relevant contribution to the work of foreign researchers of the development of transnational women’s movements.

I am fully aware that the lion’s share of the work still lies ahead of me since up to now, I ‘only’ covered the material – the association’s documents, diary notes and most importantly, the correspondence – until 1920. This means the scrutiny of proximately 130 boxes of documents out of 600. Nevertheless, I do consider it timely to share the first results of data processing with the intrigued readers, not just in the form of peer-reviewed articles and conference presentations, but also on this blog, as web-based source publication.

In my hopes this, in turn could be the first step towards a planned Schwimmer monography…


And finally, a few practical thoughts on the means of issuing the documents. The texts of the sources are adjusted to our present-day spelling rules, which in practice results in transforming the short vowels into long ones. In the letters of the certain individuals the specific old-fashioned writing-style is kept in every case. After the grammatical mistakes which would trouble the understanding, a [sic!] note is inserted, and the same routine is followed with mistakes in grammar and usage in the foreign language letters of the participants of women’s movements. Inset remarks and additional notes are placed between a [ ] mark. Shortcomings in punctuation are supplemented according to present-day rules. The underlined and cursive sections in the original text are kept. In every case, the followings are indicated at the end of the source: was the given document written by hand, or typed in, or is it an original or a copy respectively.

The recommended form of reference: The title of the source or entry [online doc.]. Place and time of publication: Schwimmerblog, YYYY. MM. DD. Date of downloading: YYYY. MM. DD. Access: URL link.

My previously published articles on the Schwimmer papers in New York

©Dóra Czeferner

Pécs, February 21., 2019


About Me

My name is Dóra Czeferner (1988). I majored in history, with a bachelor degree in English language. For almost a decade now, I have been dealing with bourgeois feminist movements in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. I had conducted research in connection with certain aspects of the topic for a longer period in Vienna, Leipzig and New York. Following the collection of sources from the Schwimmer papers in the United States, an idea was born namely, that it would be worthy to make the processed material available for a wider audience (concerning professionals and those, who are interested in women’s history). After a year-long brainstorming phase finally acts came after and in the recent weeks of February, 2019, the Blog was launched. Ultimately, the online interface enables me to publish essential documents, letters, diary entries, newspaper articles and speeches in their full lengths regarding the everyday life of Schwimmer. Since, as a Hungarian researcher, I could be to start the systematic processing of the estate, I wish to share sources which could provide important new information concerning the history of the national feminist movement, which, prior to 1918 – and in many respects of the following decades as well – bound together with Schwimmer’s name.

Curriculum Vitae


2019– Centre for the Humanities, Institute of History, Horthy Era Research Team, junior research fellow

2019–2020 University of Pécs, Faculty of Humanities, Institute of Education, Department of History of Education and Culture, assistant lecturer

Postgraduate studies

  • 2013–2018   University of Pécs, Faculty of Humanities, Interdisciplinary Doctoral School (Modern History Program)
  • 2014–2015    Universität Leipzig

Graduate studies

  • 2010–2013   University of Pécs, Faculty of Humanities, History major
  • 2006–2010   University of Pécs, Faculty of Humanities, English bachelor

Language certifications

  • French – Type C beginner language exam (2013)
  • English – Type C advanced language exam (2006)
  • German – Type C advanced language exam (2005)

Scholarships, foreign research experiences

  • Vienna, Austria (e.g. OeAD and Collegium Hungaricum scholarships, altogether 18 months)
  • New York, USA (e.g. Kuno von Klebelsberg scholarship, 4 months)
  • Manchester, United Kingdom (Campus Mundi, 1 month)
  • Leipzig (DAAD, 11 months)

Fields of interest: travelling, running, concerts, gastronomy


ChronologyMajor dates from the life of Schwimmer

September 11, 1877: She was born in Budapest

End of December, 1896: The establishment of the Hungarian National Association of Female Clerks (NOE)

1897–:Joined the NOE

April, 1899–May, 1901: Became the vice-president of the NOE

May, 1901–April, 1908: Became the president of the NOE

1903: Contribution in the establishment of the Hungarian National Association of Women Workers

June, 1904: Participation in the Berlin summit of the International Council of Women (ICW); the establishment of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA)

Beginning of December, 1904: The creation of the Hungarian Feminist Association (FE)

1905–: Became the president of the FE’s Political Committee (the status and its scope of duties first appeared in the association’s records in 1906)

January–December, 1906: The publication of the Feminist Gazette

Summer of 1906: Hungary became a full member of the IWSA; the congress of the IWSA in Copenhagen

January, 1907–December, 1913: The publication of the Woman and Society

1911–1913: Marriage with journalist, Béla Bédy

June 15-22., 1913: The 7th congress of the IWSA in Budapest

January, 1914–1928: The publication of the feminist journal, The Woman

1913: Appointed to be the press secretary of the IWSA

February, 1914: Moving to London

August, 1914: Renounced the title of press secretary of the IWSA

September, 1914: First meeting and interview with Woodrow Wilson

Autumn, 1914–Spring, 1915: Lecture tour in the USA

April 28., 1915 – May 1st: The International Peace Congress of Women in Hague; the creation of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

November, 1915: Second meeting and discussion with President Wilson

November, 1915: Negotiations with Henry Ford concerning the possible launching of the Ford Peace Ship

December 4., 1915.: The Ford Peace Ship (Oscar II) left the New York port with Schwimmer on deck

March, 1916: The peace ship and peace movement failed to succeed

Autumn, 1916: Return to Hungary

1917/1918: Peace talks in Austria, Germany and Switzerland by the assignment of Mihály Károlyi

October, 1918: Was elected to be the member of the National Council

November, 1918: As a representative of the National Council, Károlyi appointed her to be an envoy in Switzerland

January, 1919: Renounced the envoy’s commission

March, 1919: Arrived back to Budapest days before the declaration of the Hungarian Soviet Republic

January, 1920: Escaped to Vienna

August, 1921: Emigrated to the USA (from the Netherlands) with her sister, Franziska

May, 1924: Schwimmer applied for American citizenship

1928: The publication of the volume, Tisza Tales – Hungarian Folk Tales in the USA (with the illustrations of Willy Pogány)

May, 1929: Decision was made in the USA vs. Schwimmer case: according to the verdict, her application was rejected, the citizenship was not granted to her

1929–: The Schwimmer sisters resided without a citizenship (stateless) in the USA

1935: An initiation was made together with Mary Ritter Beard, American feminist to establish the World Center for Women’s Archives (WCWA)

1937: She was awarded with World Peace Prize

Beginning of the 1940’s: The WCWA fell through

1944: The Schwimmer family entrusted the New York Public Library to take care of their complete estate

1948: Nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize

August 3., 1948: Schwimmer’s death in the Mount Sinai Hospital, New York



Do you have any questions or remarks? If you would like to contact me, please send me an email to this address: czefernerd@gmail.com