Rose Schneiderman, a fiery labor leader and socialist who helped to found the ACLU and was a close friend to Eleanor Roosevelt, was born on this date in 1882 in Poland. She helped to organize the first women’s local of the United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers Union in 1903, and rose to prominence during the 1909 Uprising of the 20,000 and as an agitator following the 1911 Triangle Fire. Only 4’9″ tall, she was widely acclaimed as an orator, and applied her powers of persuasion to Jewish causes, too, including the rescue of Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe. Schneiderman was the national president of the Womens Trade Union League for twenty years until it disbanded in 1950 (Roosevelt met her by joining the WTUL in 1922) and was part of FDR’s “Brain Trust” during the New Deal. It was she who coined the phrase “bread and roses,” and she backed up her words by working for schools, recreational facilities, and organizations for laboring women. Schneiderman had a long-term relationship with her fellow labor activist, Maud Swartz, and died in New York City at age 90 in 1972.
“The life of men and women is so cheap and property is so sacred.” —Rose Schneiderman