Lemlich, Clara, 1886-1982

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Clara Lemlich Shavelson (March 28, 1886 – July 25, 1982) was a leader of the Uprising of 20,000, the massive strike of shirtwaist workers in New York's garment industry in 1909. Later blacklisted from the industry for her labor union work, she became a member of the Communist Party USA and a consumer activist in Brooklyn, New York. Born in the Ukraine to a Jewish family, she migrated to the U.S. in 2003. She became a garment worker, was elected to the executive board of Local 25 of the ILGWU (International Ladies' Garment Workers Union). Blacklisted from the garment industry, she founded the Wage Earners League, a working class suffragist organization. In 1913 she married Joseph Shavelson, and moved to Brooklyn. An early and lifelong member of the Communist Party USA, in 1929 she founded the United Council of Working Class Women (UCWCW), which led a 1935 boycott of butcher shops to protest meat prices. The UCWCW later became the Progressive Women's Councils, and was affiliated with the International Workers Order, a Communist-led ethnically based fraternal organization. After the dissolution of the IWO in 1952, Lemlich continued her activities in the Emma Lazarus Clubs, a Communist-led Jewish women's organization which she had helped to found in the 1930s, campaigning for unemployment relief, and later, tenants rights.

From the guide to the Clara Lemlich Papers, circa 1909-1992, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)

Place Name Admin Code Country
Jewish communists--New York (State)--New York
Community organization--New York (State)--New York


Birth 1886-03-28

Death 1982-07-12


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