Rose Gollup Cohen


Rose Gollup Cohen


Sweatshop labor


Immigrant sweatshop worker who wrote about the abuses suffered by workers during the Industrial Revolution


Amy French


Image: Jewish Women's Archive, private collection

Birth Date




Death Date



Garment worker

Biographical Text

The story of Rose Gollup Cohen's life is one of the standard immigrant worker. Cohen was sent from her home of Russia to the United States (he father had  already emigrated) to escape Russian persecution of Jewish families. Born Rahel, she changed her name to Rose to avoid discrimination. She went to work in the sweatshops of the garment industry to help her father raise money to secure passage for her mother and siblings. Rose may have looked at the newly installed Statue of Liberty and thought that with a woman standing watch over its harbor that the US was truly an equitable place—she would have been incredibly wrong. Cohen lived in a slum area called a tenement—dirty, rundown, crowded buildings where workers lived and disease and violence was rampant. At work, she continually suffered sexual harassment. The first sentence that she learned in English was, "Keep your hands off, please." (Cohen, 85) Although not her first language, Cohen became comfortable enough writing English to publish an autobiography, Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood in the Lower East Side. In  her story, Cohen provides a detailed account of the garment trade, unionization, and the life of a Jewish immigrant. Her autobiography and other writings detail the poor treatment of workers, and those of immigrants. Wage-earning women were treated as dispensable. They were used and abused and then tossed away when the industrial machine had taken their value. Cohen managed to gain an education and rise above the sweatshop, but her death at the age of 45 under uncertain circumstances (thought to be suicide) provides a tragic ending to her story.


Cohen, Rose. Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood in the Lower East Side. (New York: George H. Doren Co., 1918). Original copy available for free download on Google books.

Kessler-Harris, Alice.  Out to Work: a History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States. (Oxford University Press, 2003).

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Date Added
June 13, 2014
Reform (Social or Labor)
Item Type
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Amy French, “Rose Gollup Cohen,” Women Who Dared, accessed August 5, 2021,