Kross, Anna M. (Anna Moscowitz), 1891-1979

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Prisoner in cell at Women's House of Detention, New York, May 2, 1956. Photograph by Jacona

Anna Moscowitz was born in Nesheves Russia, July 17, 1891, daughter of Mayer and Esther (Drazen) Moscowitz. When Anna was two years old, the family immigrated to the United States to avoid religious persecution. They were desperately poor. Anna studied at Columbia University in 1907, worked in a factory, taught English to foreigners, and at night studied law on a scholarship. She received an L.L.B in 1910 and an L.L.M. from New York University in 1911 and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1912. While still in law school she became interested in the fate of prisoners in the court system. In 1917 she married Dr. Isodor Kross, a prominent New York surgeon. They had three children.

In 1918, after several years of private practice, Kross accepted an appointment in the office of the Corporation Council for New York City with an assignment to the Family Court. She remained there until 1923 when she returned to private practice specializing in labor relations. In 1933, Mayor John P. O'Brien appointed Kross to the bench as a Magistrate. She was the first woman judge in the city magistrates court. She was reappointed in 1940 and again in 1950.

In 1946 Kross organized and became the presiding Magistrate of the Home Term Court of the Borough of Manhattan, an experimental social court dealing with the problems of disturbed families. In 1951 the Home Term Court became citywide. In 1954 Kross was appointed Commissioner of Correction of New York City. During her tenure she received a great deal of publicity for her outspoken criticism of government policies that discriminated against the poor. She served with the Correction Department until her retirement in 1966 at the age of 75.

Kross advocated for the implementation of psychological and psychiatric social work in the administration of criminal justice and was instrumental in getting trained psychiatrists, vocational guidance workers, religious agencies, and trained medical personnel involved. She successfully fought against the public spectacle of trials of young girls on morals and vice charges, particularly through the establishment of the Wayward Minors Court (now Girls' Term Court) designed exclusively to deal with the problems of adolescent female delinquency. She insisted that not only prostitutes, but also their clients be booked. Kross gained wide recognition for her work on behalf of youth, advocating a more judicious attitude toward social problems. This was reflected in her insistence that prison was inappropriate for the indigent, mentally ill, prostitutes, or those addicted to drugs or alcohol. She also advocated against the inequities of the bail system

Kross received numerous citations, awards, and honorary degrees and belonged to numerous organizations, including American and international law associations, groups concerned with law enforcement and correction, and Jewish organizations. She died August 27, 1979 at the age of 88.

From the guide to the Anna Moskowitz Kross Papers MS 87., 1905-1974, (Sophia Smith Collection)

Lawyer; Judge; Commissioner, NYC Department of Corrections; Social reformer; Local official.

Born Anna Moscowitz, Nesheves, Russia, 1891; L.L.B, 1910 and L.L.M., 1911, from New York University; admitted to New York Bar, 1912; married Dr. Isodor Kross, 1917; three children. In 1918, after several years of private practice, accepted appointment to office of Corporation Council for New York City with assignment to Family Court until 1923 when she returned to private practice specializing in labor relations. Appointed to the bench, 1933, as first woman judge in city magistrate's court; reappointed 1940 and 1950; In 1946, organized and presided over Home Term Court, Borough of Manhattan--an experimental social court dealing with family problems; Commissioner of Correction, New York City, 1954-66. Advocated for implementation of psychological and psychiatric social work in administration of criminal justice; and gained wide recognition for her work on behalf of youth offenders and insistence that prison was inappropriate for the indigent, mentally ill, prostitutes, and those addicted to drugs or alcohol.

From the description of Papers, 1905-1974. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 49262741

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Van Waters, Miriam, 1887-1974. Papers, 1861-1971 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Van Waters, Miriam. Papers, 1861-1971 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Kross, Anna M. (Anna Moscowitz), 1891-1979. Papers, 1905-1974. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Florence Rose Papers MS 134., 1832 - 1970, 1920-1969 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf WNYC (Radio Station : New York, N.Y.). WNYC collection of broadcast recordings [sound recording], 1938-1970. Municipal Reference & Res Center/Doris
creatorOf Anna Moskowitz Kross Papers MS 87., 1905-1974 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Parisi, Angela R., 1914-1961. Papers, 1940-1961 (inclusive), 1955-1961 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Somerville, Nellie Nugent, 1863-1952. Somerville and Howorth family papers, 1850-1983 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Papers, 1850-1974 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Kross, Anna M. (Anna Moscowitz), 1891-1979. Correspondence with Marian Anderson, 1964. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Glueck, Sheldon, 1896-1990. Papers, 1916-1972 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.). Collection of broadcast recordings [sound recording], 1938-1970. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Glueck, Sheldon, 1896- person
associatedWith House of Detention for Women corporateBody
associatedWith Hurst, Fannie, 1889-1968 person
associatedWith Johnson, Lady Bird, 1912- person
associatedWith Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973 person
associatedWith Lee, Gypsy Rose, 1914-70 person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith MIRIAM VAN WATERS, 1887-1974 person
correspondedWith Motley, Constance Baker, 1921- person
associatedWith Parisi, Angela R., 1914-1961. person
correspondedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Rose, Florence, 1903-1969 person
associatedWith SOMERVILLE-HOWORTH FAMILY family
associatedWith Somerville, Nellie Nugent, 1863-1952. person
associatedWith Van Waters, Miriam. person
associatedWith Wagner, Robert F. (Robert Ferdinand), 1910- person
associatedWith WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (N.Y.)
United States
New York (N.Y.)
New York (State)--New York
Subject
Courts--History--Sources
Women prisoners--History--20th century--Sources
Prisoners--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States--History--Sources
Criminals--Rehabilitation--United States--History--20th century--Sources
Reformatories for women--United States--History--Sources
Criminals--Rehabilitation--History--20th century--Sources
Juvenile delinquency--History--Sources
Reformatories for women--History--Sources
Correctional institutions--History--20th century--Sources
Women judges--United States--History--Sources
Women lawyers--United States--History--Sources
Juvenile delinquency--New York (State)--New York--History--Sources
Courts--New York (State)--New York--History--Sources
Prisoners--Legal status, laws, etc.--History--Sources
Women judges--History--Sources
Women lawyers--History--Sources
Women prisoners--New York (State)--New York--History--20th century--Sources
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1891-07-17

Death 1979-08-27

Female

English

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