Rose Gollup Cohen

Title

Rose Gollup Cohen

Subject

Sweatshop labor

Description

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

Creator

Amy French

Source

Image: Jewish Women's Archive, private collection

Birth Date

1880

Birthplace

Russia

Death Date

1925

Occupation

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.

Bibliography

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).

Jewish Women's Archive: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/cohen-rose-gollup

Files

Cohen-Rose-Gollup.jpg

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Date Added
June 13, 2014
Collection
Reform (Social or Labor)
Item Type
Person
Tags
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Citation
Amy French, “Rose Gollup Cohen,” Women Who Dared, accessed September 22, 2019, https://womenwhodared.omeka.net/items/show/45.