Ernestine Rose Society

Gravesite Dedication and Symposium

On Sunday, Aug. 4, 2002, 110 years after her death, admirers of Ernestine L. Susmond Potowski Rose gathered at Highgate Cemetery in London to dedicate a restored marker at her grave and that of her husband, William Ella Rose.

To honor Ernestine Rose's contributions to the rights of American women, and to the abolition of slavery in the United States, a symposium entitled "Ernestine Rose and the British and American Women's Rights Movements" was held at the Women's Library of London Guildhall University on Aug. 1, 2002. The panel brought together scholars from the United States and United Kingdom who participated in a lively re-examination of women's rights reform in the 19th century.


  • Colleen Hurst, historian of the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, New York
  • Carol A. Kolmerten of Hood College in Baltimore, Maryland, author of "The American Life of Ernestine L. Rose" (Syracuse U. Press, 1999)
  • June Purvis of the University of Portsmouth, U.K, author of "Emmeline Pankhurst: A Biography" (Routledge, 2002), who spoke on the British Suffrage Movement
  • Paula Doress-Worters, founder of the Ernestine Rose Society, who discussed the possible reasons for Rose leaving the United States in 1869

Dedication Ceremony

For the dedication ceremony, held at Highgate Cemetery on Aug. 4, 2002, Paula Doress-Worters compiled a collection of scripted readings taken from eulogies, obituaries and comments written about Ernestine Rose during her lifetime in order to simulate a memorial service

The readings began with the original graveside eulogy given by George Jacob Holyoake, successor to Robert Owen as leader of the British Cooperative and secularist movements. The program continued with Carol A. Kolmerten reading the concluding pages from her biography, "The American Life of Ernestine L. Rose," which show Rose's enduring determination to resist religious conversion up till the very end of her life.

Next, there were readings about the personality and significance of Ernestine L. Rose from prominent American reformers of the women's rights and abolitionist movements, such as Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Readings continued with quotes from European reformers such as Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner and other European reformers, Jenny P. d'Héricourt, Mathilde Anneke and Ottilie Assing.

Readings about William Rose included an excerpt from one of Ernestine Rose's speeches during which she departed from her usual practice of saying little about her personal life in order to praise her husband's support of her activist life.

The last reading was from Lillie Devereaux Blake — one of the next generation of reformers — recalling the contributions of those who preceded her. The ceremony was a moving evocation of Rose's life as a reformer, and of her remarkably supportive marriage.

Participants in the Readings

Participants in the readings at the Highgate ceremony included a delegation of five women from the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) House in Rochester, New York. Participants included:

  • Jean Fushi of Chicago
  • Anna Davin of Middlesex University, UK, and SUNY, Binghamton
  • Sue Gaffney (SBA)
  • Barbara Blaisdell (SBA)
  • Teresa Froncek (SBA)
  • Paula Doress-Worters of Brandeis University
  • Colleen Hurst (SBA)
  • Lorraine Cappellino (SBA)
  • Carol A. Kolmerten of Hood College, who read excerpts from her book, "The American Life of Ernestine L. Rose"
  • Allen J. Worters of Boston