Esther Lape was well known as a journalist, researcher and publicist. She was associated with the Women's Trade Union League and one of the founders for the League of Women Voters. Lape had a life-partner, Elizabeth Read, who was Lape's personal attorney and financial advisor.
Lape edited a book on expert medical testimony, Medical Research: A Midcentury Survey (1955), sponsored by the American Foundation. In 1923 she collaborated with Read and Gustav Frenssen to Klaus Hinrich Baas: The Story Of A Self-made Man.... Together with Read, Lape published the journal City, State and Nation.
Esther Everett Lape was born on October 8, 1881 in Wilmington, Delaware. She attended public school in Philadelphia, then Bryn Mawr College and Wellesley College. Esther Lape lived with Elizabeth Fisher Read, Women's Suffrage activist and Eleanor Roosevelt's lawyer and friend, in Greenwich Village, at 20 East 11th Street, where today a plaque said Eleanor Roosevelt lived here when she was first lady. The building was actually owned by Lape. Roosevelt, who had met Lape through Read in 1920, rented an apartment for a time. Nearby, at 171 West 12th Street, lived other lesbian couples involved in the Woman's Suffrage movement and of the close-knit circle of friends of Roosevelt: Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook, Molly Dewson and Polly Porter, Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester. Lape, with her life partner, Read, and other Roosevelt's female friends, was part of Roosevelt's support network of female friends.
Lape and Read also owned a country house, Salt Meadow, Westbrook, Connecticut, where Roosevelt was often a guest. In 1972, after Read's death, Lape donated Salt Meadow to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The estate is currently the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge staff are working on a submission for National Register of Historical Places recognition for the former Salt Meadow estate that will recognize the same-sex relationship of Lape and Read.
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