Schneiderman, Rose, 1882-1972

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Rose Schneiderman, Jewish labor organizer, socialist, suffragist, campaigner for protective legislation for women, and leader of the Women's Trade Union League(WTUL) was born of working class parents in Russian Poland in 1882 and emigrated to the United States in 1890, where she entered the work force at age 13. In 1903 she organized her follow cap workers, creating Local 23 of the United Cloth, Hat & Cap Makers of North America. She joined the Socialist Party and the WTUL in 1905, quickly becoming a leading figure in the WTUL as full time organizer on New York's Lower East Side and an executive board member. Schneiderman played a leading role in the New York City garment workers upsurge of 1909-14 and was founder and president of Local 62, ILGWU Dry Goods Workers. After losing her bid for the presidency of the NYWTUL, she became in 1914 a national organizer for the ILGWU, but returned to the WTUL in 1916, dissatisfied with the place of women in the Union. She became head of the NYWTUL in 1918, and later the national WTUL, holding both posts throughout the remainder of the WTUL's existence. After World War I her focus shifted to legislative reform (with the notable exception of her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment), and she drew close to the Democratic party and established a friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt. Schneiderman served on the National Recovery Administration's labor advisory board in 1934, and as Secretary, NYS Department of Labor 1933-44. Her autobiography, All for One, was published in 1967.

From the description of Papers, 1909-1964 (bulk 1909-1920). (New York University, Group Batchload). WorldCat record id: 58666283

Rose Schneiderman, by Nancy Schrom Dye.

{This essay first appeared in Papers of the Women's Trade Union League and Its Principal Leaders: guide to the microfilm edition , / Edward T. James, editor ; assistant editors, Robin Miller Jacoby, Nancy Schrom Dye. Woodbridge, Conn. : Published for the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College by Research Publications, 1981. 319 p. (TamimentRef / HD6079.2.U5 P36 1981) This microfilm set contains 131 reels.

Rose Schneiderman was born April 6, 1882, in the village of Saven, Poland, the first of four children. Like many Eastern European Orthodox Jews in the late nineteenth century, her parents, Samuel and Deborah (Rothman) Schneiderman, worked in the sewing trades to support their impoverished family, at first in Saven and then in the industrial city of Khelm. When Rose was eight they emigrated to New York City's Lower East Side. Her father’s death there in the winter of 1892 left the family dependent upon relatives and charity. Rose and her brothers spent over a year in Jewish orphanages before their mother could reunite them.

Rose's education was limited and frequently interrupted. In Poland she began her schooling at the village chedar, a Hebrew school traditionally open only to boys. For several years she attended Russian schools. In the United States, to her disappointment, she had to leave school for work after the ninth grade. Throughout her life she continued a program of self education and was an omnivorous reader.

Rose Schneiderman's first job, at thirteen, was as a department store cash girl at $2.25 a week. Three years later, in 1898, she found a better paying position as a sewing machine operator in a cap factory. Despite the oppressive conditions that characterized both retail stores and clothing factories in the late nineteenth century, her interest in trade unionism did not develop immediately. Like most young women wage earners of that day, she regarded her time in industry as temporary, to be given up for marriage or a teaching career. As she recalled in her autobiography, "We had no idea that there was a union in our industry and that women could join it. Nor did we have a full realization of the hardships we were undergoing."

Two relationships seem to have changed this view. In 1902 her family moved briefly to Montreal, where close friendship with a socialist family stirred her interest in radical politics and trade unionism. Soon after her return to the'New York cap factory in 1903, she joined another new friend, Bessie Braut, a young anarchist, in organizing the women in their shop. They applied for a charter to the United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers Union, a vigorous Jewish socialist organization, but the union, reluctant to take women members, told them to come back after they had succeeded in organizing twenty five women a task they accomplished within a few days. The union then chartered its first women's local.

Schneiderman quickly emerged as a promising organizer and labor. leader, particularly during a long and bitter citywide capmakers' strike in 1905. Her local, largely under her direction, rapidly grew to several hundred members. She was elected its secretary and one of its delegates to the New York City Central Labor Union. Previously a quiet, introverted, often unhappy young woman, she now came into her own. She joined the Socialist party and, in 1905, the New York Women's Trade Union League, the organization she was later to call "the most important influence in my life."

The New York League, recently organized and on the lookout for promising women trade unionists, had sported Schneiderman's organizing work and invited her to its meetings as early as 1904. Although hesitant at first about an organization containing so many upperclass women, she made her decision to join and quickly became a leading member. By 1908 she was the League's vice president and one of its most effective organizers. In that year a stipend provided by Irene Lewisohn, one of the League's wealthy supporters, enabled her to give up factory employment and work for the League, meanwhile continuing her education at the Rand School of Social Science.

During the tumultuous years of the general strikes in the garment trades from 1909 through 1914, Rose Schneiderman became well known in trade union circles for her abilities as an organizer, public speaker, and union administrator. As the League's East Side organizer, she helped found numerous women’s unions, primarily among Jewish immigrants. She was active in the 1909 general strike of the shirtwaist makers, the “Uprising of the Twenty Thousand,” and served on the shirtwaist makers' union’s executive board. She also established, virtually single handedly, a small union of white goods workers that became Local 62 of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. As its first president and organizer, she led it carefully from its precarious beginnings in 1908 through its general strike in 1913.

Friction with Melinda Scott, the League's organizer for English speaking women, who had defeated her in the contest for president of the League in 1914, led Schneiderman to resign her League positions at the end of that year and become a national organizer for the I LGWU. She spent a year in the job, traveling throughout the East and Midwest to organize shirtwaist makers, but found working for a male dominated trade union frustrating and unfulfilling. The experience seems to have deepened her commitment to the Women’s Trade Union League and to the woman’s movement generally. Throughout the second decade of the twentieth century she was an active suffragist, and throughout her career she did not hesitate to voice criticism of union policies that indicated insensitivity to women's concerns. She became president of the New York League in 1918, and in 1926 accepted the presidency of the National WTUL as well, although the New York League remained her primary focus.

The years after World War I saw changes in Rose Schneiderman’s activities and priorities. Although, under New York League auspices, she continued to organize women workers in New York City, she devoted increasing time and energy to administrative and legislative matters. As president of the New York League, she channeled much of her energy into lobbying at the state capitol for protective legislation for women, particularly eight hour and minimum wage laws. She also gave vigorous opposition to the new Equal Rights Amendment proposed by the National Woman's Party.

Her political orientation also changed during these years. Earlier a Socialist, she helped organize the state Labor party in 1919 and was its candidate for U.S. Senator on the Farmer Labor ticket of 1920. So strong was her reputation at this time as a political radical that she was assailed by conservative groups as “Red Rose” and was one of the individuals investigated by New York’s Lusk Committee. Over the next few years, however, the decline of the Socialist and Farmer Labor parties and her friendship with Democratic activists within the New York WTUL Iike Nancy Cook and especially Eleanor Roosevelt (who joined the League late in 1922) drew her toward that party. She was pleased when the Democratic governor, Al Smith, appointed her a state delegate to a child labor conference in Washington in 1924. Though she campaigned that fall for the Progressive presidential candidate, La Follette, she also voted for Smith. Before long she had become a staunch Democrat.

Her friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt soon extended to Franklin as well, during visits at Hyde Park, Campobello, and later at the Governor's Mansion. The friendship greatly in fluenced Schneiderman’s public career. She in turn, through their conversations, gave Roosevelt in insight into the labor movement,and the problems of women workers that did much to shape the future president’s outlook on labor relations.

During his first, presidential year Roosevelt appointed Schneiderman to the National Recovery Administration’s Labor Advisory Board one of the first women he named to a high post. As the Board's only woman member, she was regularly consulted on women's issues. Her appointment lapsed with the NRA itself in 1935. In 1937 Governor Herbert Lehman of New York appointed her secretary (the second ranking officer) of the state's Department of Labor, an office she held until 1944.

Throughout these years Rose Schneiderman had continued as president of both the New York and the National Women’s Trade Union Leagues. Her resignation from the first post, in 1949, marked her real retirement from public life; her presidency of the National League came to an end when it disbanded in 1950. While living quietly in Manhattan, she completed her autobiography, All for One, written in collaboration with Lucy Goldthwaite; it was published in 1967. Rose Schneiderman died at the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged in New York City on August 11, 1972.

- End of Dye essay -

For Rose Schneiderman's career in the Women's Trade Union League, a more comprehensive source than her own papers is the records of the New York WTUL, also part of the WTUL microfilm edition. These include minutes of regular and executive board meetings in which she participated, from 1905 to 1955; her correspondence as president of the New York League from 1918 to 1949; and some of her correspondence as president of the National League. The correspondence files, particularly in later years, also include occasional personal letters, and they throw light on other aspects of Schneiderman's career, such as her post World War I evolution from socialist to Democrat.

Other portions of the microfilm edition contain scattered Schneiderman letters: the papers of Margaret Dreier Robins, Mary Anderson, and Leonora O'Reilly, and the National WTUL Papers at the Schlesinger Library. There are also Schneiderman letters in the National WTUL Records at the Library of Congress, which have been microfilmed as part of this edition.

Manuscript collections elsewhere that contain Schneiderman letters include the Brookwood Labor College Records at the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University; the Herbert H. Lehman Papers, School of International Affairs, Columbia University; the Eleanor Roosevelt Personal Papers, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York; and the Pauline Newman Papers, Schlesinger Library. There is a brief chapter on Schneiderman in the unpublished autobiography of her old friend George N. Caylor (originally Cohen), "If Memory Serves Me Right," in the Caylor Papers at the Tamiment Library, New York University. The records of the National Recovery Administration in the National . Archives (Record Group 9) include the office files of Rose Schneiderman and other members of the Labor Advisory Board. Her official correspondence as secretary of the New York State Department of Labor seems not to have survived.

The basic source for Schneiderman's life is her autobiography, All for One (1967), written in collaboration with Lucy Goldthwaite. See also her early autobiographical article, “A Cap Maker's Story,” Independent, LVIII (Apr. 27, 1905), 935-938. Also, Gary Endelman, "Solidarity Forever: Rose Schneiderman and the Women's Trade Union League" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Delaware, 1978). Schneiderman is viewed in different contexts in Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, A Generation of Women: Education in the Lives of Progressive Reformers (1979), and Pat L. C. Schbiten, "Militant Women for Economic Justice: The Persuasion of Mary Harris Jones, Ella Reeve Bloor, Rose Pastor Stokes, Rose Schneiderman, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn" (Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1979), and Annelise Orleck, Common Sense and a Little Fire (1995).

  • Apr 6, 1882: Born in Saven, Poland.
  • 1890: Came with parents to United States; family settled in New York City's Lower East Side.
  • 1892 - 1893 : Spent a year in Jewish orphanages after father's death.
  • 1895: Left public school after ninth grade to become a cash girl in a department store.
  • 1898: Became sewing machine operator in a cap factory.
  • 1903: Helped organize the women in her shop into a local of the capmakers' union, thus starting her labor career.
  • 1905: A leader in citywide capmakers' strike; joined New York Women's Trade Union League.
  • ca. 1906: Elected vice president of New York WTUL.
  • 1908: Left factory work to become an organizer for the WTUL.
  • 1909 - 1914 : A leader in shirtwaist and other general strikes of NewYork garment workers.
  • ca. 1909 - 1917 : Active as campaigner for woman suffrage.
  • Dec 1914: Resigned as WTUL vice president and organizer.
  • 1915 - 1916 : National organizer for International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
  • 1918 - 1949 : President of New York WTUL.
  • 1920: Farmer Labor party candidate for U.S. Senator.
  • 1924: Campaigned for La Follette for president.
  • 1924 ff: Growing friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt (a WTUL member) and Franklin D. Roosevelt drew her toward Democratic party.
  • 1926 - 1950 : President of National WTUL.
  • 1933 - 1935 : Member of Labor Advisory Board, National Recovery Administration.
  • 1937 - 1944 : Secretary of New York State Department of Labor.
  • 1967: Published her autobiography, All for One, written in collaboration with Lucy Goldthwaite.
  • Aug 11, 1972: Died at Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged, New York City.

From the guide to the Rose Schneiderman Papers, Bulk, 1909-1920, 1909-1964, (Bulk 1909-1920), (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Rose Schneiderman, by Nancy Schrom Dye.

{This essay first appeared in Papers of the Women's Trade Union League and Its Principal Leaders: guide to the microfilm edition , / Edward T. James, editor ; assistant editors, Robin Miller Jacoby, Nancy Schrom Dye. Woodbridge, Conn. : Published for the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College by Research Publications, 1981. 319 p. (TamimentRef / HD6079.2.U5 P36 1981) This microfilm set contains 131 reels.

Rose Schneiderman was born April 6, 1882, in the village of Saven, Poland, the first of four children. Like many Eastern European Orthodox Jews in the late nineteenth century, her parents, Samuel and Deborah (Rothman) Schneiderman, worked in the sewing trades to support their impoverished family, at first in Saven and then in the industrial city of Khelm. When Rose was eight they emigrated to New York City's Lower East Side. Her father’s death there in the winter of 1892 left the family dependent upon relatives and charity. Rose and her brothers spent over a year in Jewish orphanages before their mother could reunite them.

Rose's education was limited and frequently interrupted. In Poland she began her schooling at the village chedar, a Hebrew school traditionally open only to boys. For several years she attended Russian schools. In the United States, to her disappointment, she had to leave school for work after the ninth grade. Throughout her life she continued a program of self education and was an omnivorous reader.

Rose Schneiderman's first job, at thirteen, was as a department store cash girl at $2.25 a week. Three years later, in 1898, she found a better paying position as a sewing machine operator in a cap factory. Despite the oppressive conditions that characterized both retail stores and clothing factories in the late nineteenth century, her interest in trade unionism did not develop immediately. Like most young women wage earners of that day, she regarded her time in industry as temporary, to be given up for marriage or a teaching career. As she recalled in her autobiography, "We had no idea that there was a union in our industry and that women could join it. Nor did we have a full realization of the hardships we were undergoing."

Two relationships seem to have changed this view. In 1902 her family moved briefly to Montreal, where close friendship with a socialist family stirred her interest in radical politics and trade unionism. Soon after her return to the'New York cap factory in 1903, she joined another new friend, Bessie Braut, a young anarchist, in organizing the women in their shop. They applied for a charter to the United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers Union, a vigorous Jewish socialist organization, but the union, reluctant to take women members, told them to come back after they had succeeded in organizing twenty five women a task they accomplished within a few days. The union then chartered its first women's local.

Schneiderman quickly emerged as a promising organizer and labor. leader, particularly during a long and bitter citywide capmakers' strike in 1905. Her local, largely under her direction, rapidly grew to several hundred members. She was elected its secretary and one of its delegates to the New York City Central Labor Union. Previously a quiet, introverted, often unhappy young woman, she now came into her own. She joined the Socialist party and, in 1905, the New York Women's Trade Union League, the organization she was later to call "the most important influence in my life."

The New York League, recently organized and on the lookout for promising women trade unionists, had sported Schneiderman's organizing work and invited her to its meetings as early as 1904. Although hesitant at first about an organization containing so many upperclass women, she made her decision to join and quickly became a leading member. By 1908 she was the League's vice president and one of its most effective organizers. In that year a stipend provided by Irene Lewisohn, one of the League's wealthy supporters, enabled her to give up factory employment and work for the League, meanwhile continuing her education at the Rand School of Social Science.

During the tumultuous years of the general strikes in the garment trades from 1909 through 1914, Rose Schneiderman became well known in trade union circles for her abilities as an organizer, public speaker, and union administrator. As the League's East Side organizer, she helped found numerous women’s unions, primarily among Jewish immigrants. She was active in the 1909 general strike of the shirtwaist makers, the “Uprising of the Twenty Thousand,” and served on the shirtwaist makers' union’s executive board. She also established, virtually single handedly, a small union of white goods workers that became Local 62 of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. As its first president and organizer, she led it carefully from its precarious beginnings in 1908 through its general strike in 1913.

Friction with Melinda Scott, the League's organizer for English speaking women, who had defeated her in the contest for president of the League in 1914, led Schneiderman to resign her League positions at the end of that year and become a national organizer for the I LGWU. She spent a year in the job, traveling throughout the East and Midwest to organize shirtwaist makers, but found working for a male dominated trade union frustrating and unfulfilling. The experience seems to have deepened her commitment to the Women’s Trade Union League and to the woman’s movement generally. Throughout the second decade of the twentieth century she was an active suffragist, and throughout her career she did not hesitate to voice criticism of union policies that indicated insensitivity to women's concerns. She became president of the New York League in 1918, and in 1926 accepted the presidency of the National WTUL as well, although the New York League remained her primary focus.

The years after World War I saw changes in Rose Schneiderman’s activities and priorities. Although, under New York League auspices, she continued to organize women workers in New York City, she devoted increasing time and energy to administrative and legislative matters. As president of the New York League, she channeled much of her energy into lobbying at the state capitol for protective legislation for women, particularly eight hour and minimum wage laws. She also gave vigorous opposition to the new Equal Rights Amendment proposed by the National Woman's Party.

Her political orientation also changed during these years. Earlier a Socialist, she helped organize the state Labor party in 1919 and was its candidate for U.S. Senator on the Farmer Labor ticket of 1920. So strong was her reputation at this time as a political radical that she was assailed by conservative groups as “Red Rose” and was one of the individuals investigated by New York’s Lusk Committee. Over the next few years, however, the decline of the Socialist and Farmer Labor parties and her friendship with Democratic activists within the New York WTUL Iike Nancy Cook and especially Eleanor Roosevelt (who joined the League late in 1922) drew her toward that party. She was pleased when the Democratic governor, Al Smith, appointed her a state delegate to a child labor conference in Washington in 1924. Though she campaigned that fall for the Progressive presidential candidate, La Follette, she also voted for Smith. Before long she had become a staunch Democrat.

Her friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt soon extended to Franklin as well, during visits at Hyde Park, Campobello, and later at the Governor's Mansion. The friendship greatly in fluenced Schneiderman’s public career. She in turn, through their conversations, gave Roosevelt in insight into the labor movement,and the problems of women workers that did much to shape the future president’s outlook on labor relations.

During his first, presidential year Roosevelt appointed Schneiderman to the National Recovery Administration’s Labor Advisory Board one of the first women he named to a high post. As the Board's only woman member, she was regularly consulted on women's issues. Her appointment lapsed with the NRA itself in 1935. In 1937 Governor Herbert Lehman of New York appointed her secretary (the second ranking officer) of the state's Department of Labor, an office she held until 1944.

Throughout these years Rose Schneiderman had continued as president of both the New York and the National Women’s Trade Union Leagues. Her resignation from the first post, in 1949, marked her real retirement from public life; her presidency of the National League came to an end when it disbanded in 1950. While living quietly in Manhattan, she completed her autobiography, All for One, written in collaboration with Lucy Goldthwaite; it was published in 1967. Rose Schneiderman died at the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged in New York City on August 11, 1972.

- End of Dye essay -

For Rose Schneiderman's career in the Women's Trade Union League, a more comprehensive source than her own papers is the records of the New York WTUL, also part of the WTUL microfilm edition. These include minutes of regular and executive board meetings in which she participated, from 1905 to 1955; her correspondence as president of the New York League from 1918 to 1949; and some of her correspondence as president of the National League. The correspondence files, particularly in later years, also include occasional personal letters, and they throw light on other aspects of Schneiderman's career, such as her post World War I evolution from socialist to Democrat.

Other portions of the microfilm edition contain scattered Schneiderman letters: the papers of Margaret Dreier Robins, Mary Anderson, and Leonora O'Reilly, and the National WTUL Papers at the Schlesinger Library. There are also Schneiderman letters in the National WTUL Records at the Library of Congress, which have been microfilmed as part of this edition.

Manuscript collections elsewhere that contain Schneiderman letters include the Brookwood Labor College Records at the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University; the Herbert H. Lehman Papers, School of International Affairs, Columbia University; the Eleanor Roosevelt Personal Papers, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York; and the Pauline Newman Papers, Schlesinger Library. There is a brief chapter on Schneiderman in the unpublished autobiography of her old friend George N. Caylor (originally Cohen), "If Memory Serves Me Right," in the Caylor Papers at the Tamiment Library, New York University. The records of the National Recovery Administration in the National . Archives (Record Group 9) include the office files of Rose Schneiderman and other members of the Labor Advisory Board. Her official correspondence as secretary of the New York State Department of Labor seems not to have survived.

The basic source for Schneiderman's life is her autobiography, All for One (1967), written in collaboration with Lucy Goldthwaite. See also her early autobiographical article, “A Cap Maker's Story,” Independent, LVIII (Apr. 27, 1905), 935-938. Also, Gary Endelman, "Solidarity Forever: Rose Schneiderman and the Women's Trade Union League" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Delaware, 1978). Schneiderman is viewed in different contexts in Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, A Generation of Women: Education in the Lives of Progressive Reformers (1979), and Pat L. C. Schbiten, "Militant Women for Economic Justice: The Persuasion of Mary Harris Jones, Ella Reeve Bloor, Rose Pastor Stokes, Rose Schneiderman, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn" (Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1979), and Annelise Orleck, Common Sense and a Little Fire (1995).

  • Apr 6, 1882: Born in Saven, Poland.
  • 1890: Came with parents to United States; family settled in New York City's Lower East Side.
  • 1892 - 1893 : Spent a year in Jewish orphanages after father's death.
  • 1895: Left public school after ninth grade to become a cash girl in a department store.
  • 1898: Became sewing machine operator in a cap factory.
  • 1903: Helped organize the women in her shop into a local of the capmakers' union, thus starting her labor career.
  • 1905: A leader in citywide capmakers' strike; joined New York Women's Trade Union League.
  • ca. 1906: Elected vice president of New York WTUL.
  • 1908: Left factory work to become an organizer for the WTUL.
  • 1909 - 1914 : A leader in shirtwaist and other general strikes of NewYork garment workers.
  • ca. 1909 - 1917 : Active as campaigner for woman suffrage.
  • Dec 1914: Resigned as WTUL vice president and organizer.
  • 1915 - 1916 : National organizer for International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
  • 1918 - 1949 : President of New York WTUL.
  • 1920: Farmer Labor party candidate for U.S. Senator.
  • 1924: Campaigned for La Follette for president.
  • 1924 ff: Growing friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt (a WTUL member) and Franklin D. Roosevelt drew her toward Democratic party.
  • 1926 - 1950 : President of National WTUL.
  • 1933 - 1935 : Member of Labor Advisory Board, National Recovery Administration.
  • 1937 - 1944 : Secretary of New York State Department of Labor.
  • 1967: Published her autobiography, All for One, written in collaboration with Lucy Goldthwaite.
  • Aug 11, 1972: Died at Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged, New York City.

From the guide to the Rose Schneiderman Papers, Bulk, 1909-1920, 1909-1964, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)

Rose Schneiderman, by Nancy Schrom Dye.

{This essay first appeared in Papers of the Women's Trade Union League and Its Principal Leaders, published for the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, by Research Publications, 1981.}

Rose Schneiderman was born April 6, 1882, in the village of Saven, Poland, the first of four children. Like many Eastern European Orthodox Jews in the late nineteenth century, her parents, Samuel and Deborah (Rothman) Schneiderman, worked in the sewing trades to support their impoverished family, at first in Saven and then in the industrial city of Khelm. When Rose was eight they emigrated to New York City's Lower East Side. Her father’s death there in the winter of 1892 left the family dependent upon relatives and charity. Rose and her brothers spent over a year in Jewish orphanages before their mother could reunite them.

Rose's education was limited and frequently interrupted. In Poland she began her schooling at the village chedar, a Hebrew school traditionally open only to boys. For several years she attended Russian schools. In the United States, to her disappointment, she had to leave school for work after the ninth grade. Throughout her life she continued a program of self education and was an omnivorous reader.

Rose Schneiderman's first job, at thirteen, was as a department store cash girl at $2.25 a week. Three years later, in 1898, she found a better paying position as a sewing machine operator in a cap factory. Despite the oppressive conditions that characterized both retail stores and clothing factories in the late nineteenth century, her interest in trade unionism did not develop immediately. Like most young women wage earners of that day, she regarded her time in industry as temporary, to be given up for marriage or a teaching career. As she recalled in her autobiography, "We had no idea that there was a union in our industry and that women could join it. Nor did we have a full realization of the hardships we were undergoing."

Two relationships seem to have changed this view. In 1902 her family moved briefly to Montreal, where close friendship with a socialist family stirred her interest in radical politics and trade unionism. Soon after her return to the'New York cap factory in 1903, she joined another new friend, Bessie Braut, a young anarchist, in organizing the women in their shop. They applied for a charter to the United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers Union, a vigorous Jewish socialist organization, but the union, reluctant to take women members, told them to come back after they had succeeded in organizing twenty five women a task they accomplished within a few days. The union then chartered its first women's local.

Schneiderman quickly emerged as a promising organizer and labor. leader, particularly during a long and bitter citywide capmakers' strike in 1905. Her local, largely under her direction, rapidly grew to several hundred members. She was elected its secretary and one of its delegates to the New York City Central Labor Union. Previously a quiet, introverted, often unhappy young woman, she now came into her own. She joined the Socialist party and, in 1905, the New York Women's Trade Union League, the organization she was later to call "the most important influence in my life."

The New York League, recently organized and on the lookout for promising women trade unionists, had sported Schneiderman's organizing work and invited her to its meetings as early as 1904. Although hesitant at first about an organization containing so many upperclass women, she made her decision to join and quickly became a leading member. By 1908 she was the League's vice president and one of its most effective organizers. In that year a stipend provided by Irene Lewisohn, one of the League's wealthy supporters, enabled her to give up factory employment and work for the League, meanwhile continuing her education at the Rand School of Social Science.

During the tumultuous years of the general strikes in the garment trades from 1909 through 1914, Rose Schneiderman became well known in trade union circles for her abilities as an organizer, public speaker, and union administrator. As the League's East Side organizer, she helped found numerous women’s unions, primarily among Jewish immigrants. She was active in the 1909 general strike of the shirtwaist makers, the “Uprising of the Twenty Thousand,” and served on the shirtwaist makers' union’s executive board. She also established, virtually single handedly, a small union of white goods workers that became Local 62 of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. As its first president and organizer, she led it carefully from its precarious beginnings in 1908 through its general strike in 1913.

Friction with Melinda Scott, the League's organizer for English speaking women, who had defeated her in the contest for president of the League in 1914, led Schneiderman to resign her League positions at the end of that year and become a national organizer for the I LGWU. She spent a year in the job, traveling throughout the East and Midwest to organize shirtwaist makers, but found working for a male dominated trade union frustrating and unfulfilling. The experience seems to have deepened her commitment to the Women’s Trade Union League and to the woman’s movement generally. Throughout the second decade of the twentieth century she was an active suffragist, and throughout her career she did not hesitate to voice criticism of union policies that indicated insensitivity to women's concerns. She became president of the New York League in 1918, and in 1926 accepted the presidency of the National WTUL as well, although the New York League remained her primary focus.

The years after World War I saw changes in Rose Schneiderman’s activities and priorities. Although, under New York League auspices, she continued to organize women workers in New York City, she devoted increasing time and energy to administrative and legislative matters. As president of the New York League, she channeled much of her energy into lobbying at the state capitol for protective legislation for women, particularly eight hour and minimum wage laws. She also gave vigorous opposition to the new Equal Rights Amendment proposed by the National Woman's Party.

Her political orientation also changed during these years. Earlier a Socialist, she helped organize the state Labor party in 1919 and was its candidate for U.S. Senator on the Farmer Labor ticket of 1920. So strong was her reputation at this time as a political radical that she was assailed by conservative groups as “Red Rose” and was one of the individuals investigated by New York’s Lusk Committee. Over the next few years, however, the decline of the Socialist and Farmer Labor parties and her friendship with Democratic activists within the New York WTUL Iike Nancy Cook and especially Eleanor Roosevelt (who joined the League late in 1922) drew her toward that party. She was pleased when the Democratic governor, Al Smith, appointed her a state delegate to a child labor conference in Washington in 1924. Though she campaigned that fall for the Progressive presidential candidate, La Follette, she also voted for Smith. Before long she had become a staunch Democrat.

Her friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt soon extended to Franklin as well, during visits at Hyde Park, Campobello, and later at the Governor's Mansion. The friendship greatly in fluenced Schneiderman’s public career. She in turn, through their conversations, gave Roosevelt in insight into the labor movement,and the problems of women workers that did much to shape the future president’s outlook on labor relations.

During his first, presidential year Roosevelt appointed Schneiderman to the National Recovery Administration’s Labor Advisory Board one of the first women he named to a high post. As the Board's only woman member, she was regularly consulted on women's issues. Her appointment lapsed with the NRA itself in 1935. In 1937 Governor Herbert Lehman of New York appointed her secretary (the second ranking officer) of the state's Department of Labor, an office she held until 1944.

Throughout these years Rose Schneiderman had continued as president of both the New York and the National Women’s Trade Union Leagues. Her resignation from the first post, in 1949, marked her real retirement from public life; her presidency of the National League came to an end when it disbanded in 1950. While living quietly in Manhattan, she completed her autobiography, All for One, written in collaboration with Lucy Goldthwaite; it was published in 1967. Rose Schneiderman died at the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged in New York City on August 11, 1972.

- End of essay -

For Rose Schneiderman's career in the Women's Trade Union League, a more comprehensive source than her own papers is the records of the Now York WTUL, also part of the present microfilm edition. These include minutes of regular and executive board meetings in which she participated, from 1905 to 1955; her correspondence as president of the New York League from 1918 to 1949; and some of her correspondence as president of the National League. The correspondence files, particularly in later years, also include occasional personal letters, and they throw light on other aspects of Schneiderman's career, such as her post World War I evolution from socialist to Democrat.

Other portions of the microfilm edition contain scattered Schneiderman letters: the papers of Margaret Dreier Robins, Mary Anderson, and Leonora O'Reilly, and the National WTUL Papers at the Schlesinger Library. There are Schneiderman letters also in the National WTUL Records at the Library of Congress, which have been microfilmed in conjunction with this edition.

Manuscript collections elsewhere that contain Schneiderman letters include the Brookwood Labor College Records at the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University; the Herbert H. Lehman Papers, School of International Affairs, Columbia University; the Eleanor Roosevelt Personal Papers, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York; and the Pauline Newman Papers, Schlesinger Library. There is a brief chapter on Schneiderman in the unpublished autobiography of her old friend George N. Caylor (originally Cohen), "If Memory Serves Me Right," in the Caylor Papers at the Tamiment Library, New York University. The records of the National Recovery Administration in the National . Archives (Record Group 9) include the office files of Rose Schneiderman and other members of the Labor Advisory Board. Her official correspondence as secretary of the New York State Department of Labor seems not to have survived.

The basic source for Schneiderman's life is her autobiography, All for One (1967), written in collaboration with Lucy Goldthwaite. See also her early autobiographical article, “A Cap Maker's Story,” Independent, LVIII (Apr. 27, 1905), 935 938. A recent scholarly study is Gary Endelman, "Solidarity Forever: Rose Schneiderman and the Women's Trade Union League" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Delaware, 1978). Schneiderman is viewed in different contexts in Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, A Generation of Women: Education in the Lives of Progressive Reformers (1979), and Pat L.C. Schbiten, "Militant Women for Economic Justice: The Persuasion of Mary Harris Jones, Ella Reeve Sloor, Rose Pastor Stokes, Rose Schneiderman, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn" (Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1979).

  • Apr 6, 1882: Born in Saven, Poland.
  • 1890: Came with parents to United States; family settled in New York City's Lower East Side.
  • 1892 - 1893 : Spent a year in Jewish orphanages after father's death.
  • 1895: Left public school after ninth grade to become a cash girl in a department store.
  • 1898: Became sewing machine operator in a cap factory.
  • 1903: Helped organize the women in her shdp into a local of the capmakers' union, thus starting her labor career.
  • 1905: A leader in citywide capmakers'strike; joined New York Women's Trade Union League.
  • ca. 1906: Elected vice president of New York WTUL.
  • 1908: Left factory work to become an organizer for the WTUL.
  • 1909 - 1914 : A leader in shirtwaist and other general strikes of NewYork garment workers.
  • ca. 1909 - 1917 : Active as campaigner for woman suffrage.
  • Dec 1914: Resigned as WTUL vice president and organizer.
  • 1915 - 1916 : National organizer for International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
  • 1918 - 1949 : President of New York WTUL.
  • 1920: Farmer Labor party candidate for U.S. Senator.
  • 1924: Campaigned for La Follette for president.
  • 1924 ff: Growing friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt (a WTUL member) and Franklin D. Roosevelt drew her toward Democratic party.
  • 1926 - 1950 : President of National WTUL.
  • 1933 - 1935 : Member of Labor Advisory Board, National Recovery Administration.
  • 1937 - 1944 : Secretary of New York State Department of Labor.
  • 1967: Published her autobiography, All for One, written in collaboration with Lucy Goldthwaite.
  • Aug 11, 1972: Died at Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged, New York City.

From the guide to the Rose Schneiderman Papers, Bulk, 1909-1920, 1909-1964, (Bulk 1909-1920), (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Schneiderman, Rose, 1882-1972. [Letter], September 13, 1934, Washington, D.C. / Rose Schneiderman, President, National Women's Trade Union Leagure of America. University of Michigan
referencedIn Dennett, Mary Ware, 1872-1947. Papers: Series IV, 1910-1944 (inclusive) [microform]. Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Dorothy Kenyon Papers MS 85., 1850 - 1998 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Gioffre, Marisa. Bread and roses : a documentary play with music on the history of American women from the 19th century to the present : typescript, 1975. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Tamiment Library. Tamiment Library manuscript files collection relating to individuals and organizations associated with radicalism, the labor movement, and progressive social action in the United States, 1950-2001 (bulk 1910-1965). Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Papers, 1898, 1909-1963 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn National Women's Trade Union League of America. Records, 1903-1950. [microform] Cornell University Library
referencedIn Caylor, George Nathan, 1885-1973. Papers, ca. 1955-1965. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn American Association for Labor Legislation. Series 1, Subseries 6. Correspondence, 1930-1935 [microform]. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America records, 1914-1980, 1920-1950 (bulk) Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
referencedIn Beatrice B. Ettinger Papers, 1964-1998 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries,
referencedIn Women's Trade Union League of America. Papers of the Women's Trade Union League and its principal leaders, 1855-1964 (inclusive), [microform]. Yale University Library
creatorOf Schneiderman, Rose, 1882-1972. Papers, 1909-1964 (bulk 1909-1920). New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Rose Schneiderman Papers, Bulk, 1909-1920, 1909-1964 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Mary van Kleeck Papers MS 165., 1883-1972 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Papers, 1797(1897-1963) Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn National Women's Trade Union League of America. Records of the National Women's Trade Union League of America, 1903-1950. Library of Congress
referencedIn Papers, 1874-1945 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Newman, Pauline. Papers, 1903-1982 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Papers, (invlusive), (bulk), 1909-1973, 1929-1967 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
creatorOf Rose Schneiderman Collection. Photographic prints, 1909-1962. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947. Papers of Carrie Chapman Catt, 1848-1950 (inclusive), [microform]. Yale University Library
referencedIn International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Local 62 (New York, N.Y.). ILGWU. Local 62 correspondence, 1913-1976. Cornell University Library
referencedIn White, Sue Shelton, 1887-1943. Papers, 1898-1963 (inclusive), 1909-1963 (bulk). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Beyer, Clara M. (Clara Mortenson). Papers, 1911-1974 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947. Carrie Chapman Catt papers, 1848-1950 (bulk 1890-1920). Library of Congress
referencedIn Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives Labor and Radicalism Photograph Collection, Bulk, 1940-1965, 1860-1985 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Papers, 1837 (1900-1975) Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Miller, Frieda S. Papers, 1909-1973 (inclusive), 1929-1967 (bulk). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1963. Papers, 1797-1963 (inclusive), 1897-1963 (bulk). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Papers, 1880-1955 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Aliotto, Marie. Garment workers. California State University, Long Beach
referencedIn Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Sidney Hillman papers, 1930-1946, 1935-1945 (bulk). Cornell University Library
referencedIn Anderson, Mary, 1872-1964. Papers, 1918-1960 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn National Women's Trade Union League of America. National Women's Trade Union Legaue of America papers of the Women's Trade Union League and its principal leaders, 1855-1964, bulk 1903-1950. [microform] Cornell University Library
referencedIn Bondfield, Margaret, 1873-1953. Margaret Grace Bondfield papers, 1854-1951, 1898-1951 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn ILGWU. New York Cloak Joint Board records, 1926-1973 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
referencedIn Papers, 1899-1940, 1956 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Women's Trade Union League of New York Records, 1903-1955 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Smith, Hilda Worthington, 1888-. Papers, 1837-1975 (inclusive), 1900-1975 (bulk). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Van Kleeck, Mary, 1883-. Mary van Kleeck Papers, 1849-1998. Smith College, Neilson Library
creatorOf Rose Schneiderman Papers, Bulk, 1909-1920, 1909-1964, (Bulk 1909-1920) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Hillman, Bessie. Bessie Hillman correspondence, 1930-1970, 1945-1970 (bulk). Cornell University Library
referencedIn George N. Caylor Papers, 1903-1973 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. New York Cloak Joint Board. ILGWU. New York Cloak Joint Board records, 1926-1973. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Rose Schneiderman Photographs, 1909-1962 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Papers, 1900-1980 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Jacob Potofsky correspondence, 1930-1946, 1930-1940 (bulk). Cornell University Library
referencedIn Papers of Bernice Resnick Sandler, 1963-2008 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), b. 1874. Papers: Series I-IV, 1851-1958 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn ILGWU. Local 62 correspondence, 1913-1976 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
referencedIn Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives,. Tamiment Library general photograph collection [graphic]. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. General Secretary-Treasurer. Joseph Schlossberg correspondence, 1930-1940. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Brookwood Labor College (Katonah, N.Y.). Brookwood Labor College records, 1921-1937. Wayne State University, Archives of Labor & Urban Affairs
referencedIn National Women's Trade Union League of America. Records, 1904-1950 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Hochstein, Irma E., 1887-1974. Papers, 1916-1965. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Tamiment Library Manuscript Files, Bulk, 1910-1965, 1749-1988 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Bellanca, Dorothy. Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca papers, 1914-1946, 1925-1940 (bulk). Cornell University Library
referencedIn ILGWU. Stein, Leon, 1912-. Leon Stein photographs. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Rose Schneiderman Papers, Bulk, 1909-1920, 1909-1964, (Bulk 1909-1920) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Brown, Charlotte Hawkins, 1883-1961. Papers, 1900-1961 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn National Women’s Trade Union League of America Records, 1903-1950 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Caylor, George Nathan, 1885-1973. Papers, 1903-1973. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947. Papers, 1848-1950 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Papers, 1851-1958 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Papers, 1900-1961 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Bondfield, Margaret Grace, 1873-1953. Papers, 1854-1951, 1898-1951 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, 1848-1950, (bulk 1890-1920) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Kenyon, Dorothy, 1888-1972. Dorothy Kenyon papers, 1850-1998 (bulk 1888-1971). Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Schneiderman, Rose Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. General Secretary-Treasurer. corporateBody
associatedWith American Association for Labor Legislation. corporateBody
founderOf American Civil Liberties Union corporateBody
associatedWith Anderson, Mary, 1872-1964. person
associatedWith Beatrice B. Ettinger person
associatedWith Bellanca, Dorothy. person
correspondedWith BELLE SHERWIN, 1868-1955 person
associatedWith Bernice Resnick Sandler person
associatedWith Beyer, Clara M. (Clara Mortenson) person
associatedWith Bondfield, Margaret Grace, 1873-1953. person
correspondedWith Brookwood Labor College (Katonah, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Brown, Charlotte Hawkins, 1883-1961. person
associatedWith Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947. person
associatedWith Caylor, George Nathan, 1885-1973. person
associatedWith CHARLOTTE EUGENIA (HAWKINS) BROWN, 1883-1961 person
associatedWith Dennett, Mary Ware, 1872-1947. person
associatedWith Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1963. person
correspondedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
correspondedWith EMMA GOLDMAN, 1869-1940 person
associatedWith FRIEDA SEGELKE MILLER, 1889-1973 person
associatedWith Gioffre, Marisa. person
associatedWith Harriet Wright (Burton) Laidlaw, 1873-1949 person
associatedWith Hilda Worthington Smith, 1888-1984 person
associatedWith Hillman, Bessie. person
associatedWith Hochstein, Irma E., 1887-1974. person
associatedWith ILGWU. Stein, Leon, 1912- person
memberOf International Congress of Working Women corporateBody
memberOf International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. corporateBody
memberOf International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. corporateBody
memberOf International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Local 62 (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. New York Cloak Joint Board. corporateBody
associatedWith Kenyon, Dorothy, 1888-1972 person
correspondedWith Kenyon, Dorothy, 1888-1972. person
associatedWith Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), b. 1874. person
correspondedWith LEON MALMED, 1881-1956 person
associatedWith MARY ELISABETH DREIER, 1875-1963 person
associatedWith MARY (WARE) DENNETT person
associatedWith Miller, Frieda S. person
memberOf National American Woman Suffrage Association corporateBody
memberOf National Women's Trade Union League of America. corporateBody
memberOf National Women’s Trade Union League of America corporateBody
associatedWith Newman, Pauline. person
associatedWith Newman, Pauline. person
associatedWith Newman, Pauline, 1891-1986. person
associatedWith PAULINE NEWMAN, 1888-1986 person
associatedWith Perkins, Frances, 1880-1965. person
associatedWith Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. corporateBody
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962. person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945. person
associatedWith Smith, Hilda Worthington, 1888- person
associatedWith SUE SHELTON WHITE, 1887-1943 person
associatedWith Tamiment Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, corporateBody
employeeOf United States. National Recovery Administration corporateBody
correspondedWith van Kleeck, Mary person
correspondedWith Van Kleeck, Mary, 1883- person
associatedWith White, Sue Shelton, 1887-1943. person
memberOf Women's Trade Union League of America. corporateBody
memberOf Women's Trade Union League of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith Zaritsky, Max, 1885-1959. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Sawin 75 PL
New York City NY US
Subject
Labor unions--Organizing
Labor unions--Organizing--United States
Textile Workers' Strike, Southern States, 1934
Textile workers
Women labor union members
Women labor union members--United States
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1882-04-06

Death 1972-08-11

Information

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Ark ID: w6010r6z

SNAC ID: 83826953