Table of Contents
About the Photos
About the Author
Rose Schneiderman and the White Goods Workers of New York
From Chapter 2 of Rosie's Mom

Rose Schneiderman stood only four and a half feet tall, so a mere soap box wouldn't do. For street meetings, she stood on a ladder carried around from one factory entrance to another. With her unruly red hair pulled back in a bun, her crisp white shirtwaist tucked neatly into a long dark skirt, the tiny woman climbed up onto her ladder and unfurled her trade union banner. Her round face flushed with passion, she spoke in Yiddish and in English, calling on the young women in the garment trades to join together and demand better treatment and a living wage. When she spoke about woman's need for voting rights, she made grown men laugh, and as she continued, her pathos and passion could make them cry.(1) In 1910 and 1913 she helped organize major strikes of garment workers in New York City. And in 1914, without her ladder, she traveled to Washington for a meeting with the President of the United States. She looked up at the tall, grey-templed Woodrow Wilson and told him that while he worried about the war in Europe, there was an industrial war going on in his own country. She knew that war well, because she had been living in the middle of it, trying to find a way to peace.

An underage white goods worker carrying kimonos for finishing at home. The New York white good strikers of 1913 insistend on an end to the home work system in their trade. Photograph by Lewis Hine, courtesy of the National Archives at College Park (102-LH-2861).