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October 13: The Fact-Gatherer

October 13, 2014
Josephine Goldmark crJosephine Clara Goldmark, a social reformer of the Progressive Era who shaped the use of fact-gathering to win reform in the courts, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1877. Working with the New York Consumer’s League, Goldmark recruited her brother-in-law, Louis Brandeis, to serve as the league’s attorney and compiled the “Brandeis Brief,” a 1908 report that prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to accept the constitutionality of an Oregon law limited the working day for women to ten hours. “Goldmark’s technique in that brief,” writes Kathryn Kish Sklar at the Jewish Women’s Archive, “the gathering and presentation of socially relevant facts... became the main instrument for shaping American law according to social need rather than judicial precedent.” Goldmark also wrote articles and pamphlets that helped drive reform of working conditions for women and children, and worked with the New York State committee that investigated the 1911 Triangle Fire. In 1912, she published a massive study, Fatigue and Efficiency, connecting shorter work hours to increased productivity, and in 1923 she published Nursing and Nursing Education in the United States, which helped reform nursing education. goldmarkGoldmark’s sisters: “Helen married the eminent Felix Adler, philosopher and founder of the Society for Ethical Culture in New York... Alice married the eminent Boston Jewish lawyer Louis Dembitz Brandeis, helping to radicalize Brandeis from moderate classical liberal to socialistic progressive.... Pauline, after graduating from Bryn Mawr in 1896, remained single, did graduate work at Columbia and Barnard in botany, zoology, and sociology, and then became assistant secretary of the New York Consumers League.” —Murray Rothbard, Origins of the Welfare State