Tag Archives: Women’s Trade Union League

Women’s History: May 3

3 May

Happy Birthday, Golda Meir

May 3 is a big day in Women’s History. Today we will be celebrating Maud O’Farrell Swartz, Golda Meir, and Nellie Tayloe Ross.

Happy Birthday, Golda Meir.  Meir was Israel’s fourth Prime Minister, as well as being the first woman to serve in that office.  Meir served as Prime Minister during the very difficult Yom Kippur War.  I personally feel Meir showed great wisdom and restraint and true leadership during this war. It was only a few months later that she resigned at Prime Minister.  I’m not sure how world leaders survive any type of war–regardless of the circumstances, I can only imagine that any war scars the soul.  Hard to believe this Russian born-woman, later a teacher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, would eventually become one of the key players in establishing the state of Israel in 1948.

Happy Birthday, Maud O’Farrell Swartz.  An Irish immigrant, Swartz became a suffragist here in the States. Swartz became a strong voice in the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) and in the labor movement.  Swartz served as president of the WTUL from 1922-1926, during a period when the organizing efforts declined in a business climate less friendly to unions–sound familiar?  Wisconsin and Maine must not be too familiar with history.

Finally, I would like to recognize Nellie Tayloe Ross.  Ross was the first female Director of the U.S. Mint, appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Quote of the day:

 It’s no accident many accuse me of conducting public affairs with my heart instead of my head. Well, what if I do? … Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.–Golda Meir

Women’s History: April 6

6 Apr

Happy Birthday, Rose Schneiderman

Happy Birthday, Rose Schneiderman.  As we wait to see if Wisconsin Justice Prosser will be re-elected, I wanted to celebrate Schneiderman.  Schneiderman was best known as a social reformer, suffragist,  and she founded the Jewish Socialist United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers’ Union.  Schneiderman’s response to the tragic deaths at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company serves as a harbinger as to what can happen if we strip away bargaining rights and render unions eunuchs:

I would be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting. The old Inquisition had its rack and its thumbscrews and its instruments of torture with iron teeth. We know what these things are today; the iron teeth are our necessities, the thumbscrews are the high-powered and swift machinery close to which we must work, and the rack is here in the firetrap structures that will destroy us the minute they catch on fire.
This is not the first time girls have been burned alive in the city. Every week I must learn of the untimely death of one of my sister workers. Every year thousands of us are maimed. The life of men and women is so cheap and poverty is so sacred. There are so many of us for one job it matters little if 146 of us are burned to death.
We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now, and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.
Public officials have only words of warning to us – warning that we must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back, when we rise, into the conditions that make life unbearable.
I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement.

How sad that we don’t seem to have learned the necessary lessons from history and how germane Schneiderman’s words are today. RECALL.

Women’s History: April 1

1 Apr

Sophonisba Breckenridge

Happy Birthday, Sophonisba Breckenridge. Breckenridge is best known for her work as a social reformer, suffragist, and political scientist. Breckenridge was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in political science. Breckenridge graduated from law school from the University of Chicago and worked for the Women’s Trade Union League as well as Hull House. Breckenridge was a Pacifist and helped to establish the NAACP.  Where are the Sophonisba Breckenridges today? How sad that much of the social reformation and activism attributed to Breckenridge is looked down upon today and not rewarded in this morally bankrupt Tea Party we call America.

Happy Birthday, Agnes Repplier. Repplier is best known as an essayist and biographer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her sharp wit and independence combined with her adept writing abilities, secured her career as an essayist for 75 years. One of my favorite quotes by Repplier is: “It is not depravity that afflicts the human race so much as a general lack of intelligence.” To learn more about Agnes Repplier click here.

April 1, 1204 is the year our Eleanor of Aquitaine died.

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