Glimpses into the Life of Laura Dreyfus-Barney:
First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #83 (English)
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 3–6, 2008
This paper is an attempt to present glimpses into the life of Laura Dreyfus-Barney (1879-1974), a keenly intelligent woman with an inquisitive mind. She made several trip to Akka and during her visits requested 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who was confined to prison at that time, clarifying a number of points for her. Her greatest achievement was the publication of those questions and answers entitled Some Answered Questions in 1908.
In 1900, Laura Barney, a prominent American, was introduced to the Bahá'í Faith in Paris and embraced the Faith. Her mother, Alice Pike Barney, a poet, artist, musician, was a prominent civil and social leader and an eccentric person. She also became Bahá'í and several times hosted 'Abdu'l-Bahá in her home in Washington, DC during 'Abdu'l-Bahá's visits in 1912. Laura Barney's father was a wealthy and successful industrialist.
An effort is made in this paper to shed more light on the life of this heroine of the Bahai Faith who was given the title of Amatu'l-Bahá by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Three distinct stages of the life of Laura Dreyfus-Barney will be examined in this paper:
- her parents, her childhood, growing up in the United States and receiving education in France;
- becoming a Bahá'í and her services to the Faith and her collaborative work with her husband Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney throughout the world; and
- her humanitarian accomplishments after the passing of her husband.
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