Deutsches Haus at NYU, in partnership with the Consulate General of Switzerland New York and SALA (Swiss American Lawyers Association), presents a screening of the Swiss documentary Emilie Kempin-Spyri. Rahel Grunder, the film's director, will be present and speak about her film and the life of Emilie Kempin-Spyri.
About the film:
Emilie Kempin-Spyri. Written and directed by Rahel Grunder. Switzerland, 2015, 52. min, in German with English subtitles.
Emilie Kempin-Spyri was the first female Doctor of Law in Europe. As a woman, however, she was not admitted to the bar, nor allowed to lecture at university. Emilie found a way out of her dissatisfying situation with a courageous journey into the unknown: In 1888, she emigrated with her husband and their three children to New York. With the help of influential women, she founded the first Woman's Law Class, which then was integrated into the law school at NYU. Her tireless efforts paid off, and Emilie was even allowed to lecture men. After only three years though, Emilie left to be with her family. Her husband, not able to acclimate to the foreign city, had returned to Switzerland with the children a year earlier. Emilie was finally allowed to work as a private lecturer at Zurich university, but her fight to be admitted to the bar remained unsuccessful again. She emigrated to Berlin and drafted articles on family law for the German Civil Code. Without stable social relationships, separated from her husband, and in an economically precarious situation, Kempin-Spyri suffered a breakdown in 1897. She was initially treated in a sanatorium in Berlin. In 1901 she tragically died at the age of 48 in a mental institution in Switzerland.