The achievements of the Goldmark sisters were so various that a brief enumeration only suggests the breadth of their interests. PDG and JCG were born in Brooklyn, New York, to Joseph (1819-1881) and Regina (Wehle) Goldmark (1835-1925), Austrian political refugees from the revolution of 1848. There were eleven children, of whom one died at the age of six.
PDG was graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1896 and began a career as a social investigator as assistant secretary of the New York Consumers' League, a position she held until 1904; she later served as executive secretary (1905-1909) and as chair of the legislative committee (1908-1911). In 1907 she initiated the first investigation (1907-1908) of the canneries in New York State, a project that resulted in the book, Women and Children in the Canneries (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1908). By 1912 she was the assistant director of social research for the Russell Sage Foundation. She was a member of the industrial board of the New York State Labor Department (1913-1915), and during World War I served as executive secretary of the Committee on Women in Industry. As manager (1918-1920) of the Women's Service Section of the United States Railroad Administration, PDG toured the country, investigating the working conditions of women and children. From 1919 until her retirement in 1939, she worked in the research department of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company as their expert on the employment and health problems of women. She was let go shortly before completing twenty years of service, and was thus denied her retirement benefits. PDG was also vice-chair of the New York City Child Labor Commission and a director of the National Consumers' League. She was the compiler and editor, with Mary D. Hopkins, of a volume of poems entitled The Gypsy Trail .
JCG's career paralleled that of her sister. After graduation from Bryn Mawr in 1898, she volunteered at the National Consumers' League and went on to serve as publications secretary (1903) and as chair of its committee on the legal defense of labor laws. She gathered the medical, economic, and social data that lawyer Louis Brandeis (husband of her sister Alice) used in Muller vs. Oregon (1908), in which the Supreme Court upheld a state law setting maximum working hours for women. That case was probably the first to document the cost of industrialization in terms of human suffering. JCG's book, Fatigue and Efficiency (1912), presented evidence that led to shorter working hours. From 1912 to 1914 JCG worked for the Factory Investigating Committee, appointed to investigate the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire (1911). Her work as secretary to the Committee for the Study of Nursing Education resulted in the Winslow-Goldmark report, which advocated upgrading the standard of education for nurses and resulted in the foundation of schools of nursing at Yale, Vanderbilt, and Western Reserve universities. In the 1920s, JCG worked with Florence Kelley in the campaign to safeguard workers against radium poisoning. In 1930 she published Pilgrims of '48, in which she wrote of her father's life and of her belief that the revolution of 1848 and its refugees had contributed to America's liberal heritage. Her book, Impatient Crusader, about Florence Kelley, her friend and associate at the National Consumers' League, was published posthumously (1953). From their early teens, both sisters summered at St. Huberts, New York, in the Adirondacks, where they became expert amateur naturalists. For further information on JCG, see Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971).
Additional Goldmark family correspondence is included in the papers of Evelyn Tennyson Openhym at Alfred University in Alfred, New York.
From the guide to the Papers, 1886-1962, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)