Press "Enter" to skip to content

Profile of the Day: Emma Lazarus

On this day in 1849, American poet and activist Emma Lazarus was born. Lazarus is best remembered for the sonnet “The New Colossus,” and today, her iconic words, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled Masses yearning to breath free,” can still be found inscribed on a bronze plaque at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

Profile of the Day: Emma Lazarus

Image: Emma Lazarus / Wikimedia Commons

Lazarus was born on July 22, 1849 in New York City, New York into a large Portuguese Sephardic Jewish family. She was educated at home and From an early age, began writing and translating poetry. By the 1860s, she was publishing her own work and became one of the first successful Jewish American authors.

In addition to her writing, Lazarus was a vocal advocate for Jewish refugees. In 1883, Lazarus wrote her most celebrated sonnet, “The New Colossus,” to help raise money for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. In the poem, she referred to the Statue of Liberty as “Mother of Exiles,” and depicted the statue as a symbol of hope and opportunity for the millions of immigrants coming to America.

Lazarus died on November 19, 1887 at the age of 38 from what was likely Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Sixteen years after her death in 1903, the famous lines from her poem were engraved on a plaque at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

Explore Emma Lazarus’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re related to the poet.

View Emma Lazarus’s Geni Profile


iframe{ border: 1px solid #999; }


Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *