Virginia Sanchez-Korrol, historian and professor emerita at CUNY Brooklyn College, greets Women’s History Month with a remembrance, in HuffPo, of the woman who taught her Spanish at Bay Ridge High School over half a century ago. Ella Wolfe, born in Ukraine in the late nineteenth century, emigrated to Williamsburg at the age of ten. While a student at Hunter College, she married Bertram Wolfe, a City College student who would, like her, follow a scholarly career. He was also one of the founders of the American Communist Party.
In Sanchez-Korrol’s words:
The Wolfes opposed America’s entry into World War I and left for Moscow but they soon became equally disheartened with the results of the revolution. Hounded now by the political left and the right, after years of living underground the roaring twenties found the couple in Mexico City. There they joined international bohemian circles and befriended the leading intellectuals and artists of the day, among them, [Diego] Rivera and [Frida] Kahlo. Frida would become Ella’s close companion and confidant. After the Second World War, the Wolfes returned to live in Brooklyn Heights; he to continue the writing of copious biographical and scholarly works on Communism, and she to teach Spanish literature at Columbia University, Hunter College and the New York City public schools.
In 1966, the Wolfes left Brooklyn for California, where they both became affiliated with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. Bertram died in 1977 at the age of 81; Ella lived until January, 2000, reaching 103.
Photo: Edward Weston/stanfordalumni.org