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MC 324; M-44

Newman, Pauline. Papers of Pauline Newman, 1900-1980: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


This collection was processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RC-0051-79-1260).
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.
July 1981

© 1981 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 324; M-44
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Pauline Newman
Title: Papers of Pauline Newman, 1900-1980
Quantity: 4.17 linear feet (10 file boxes) plus 5 photograph folders, 1 folio+ folder
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, reports, photographs, etc., of labor organizer Pauline Newman.

Processing Information:

Processed: July 1981
By: Donna Webber

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 77-M169, 78-M34, 78-M106, 78-M153, 78-M232, 79-M61, 79-M162, 79-M292, 80-M141, 80-M153, 80-M179, 80-M218, 80-M221
The papers of Pauline Newman were given to the Schlesinger Library by Pauline Newman between 1977 and 1980.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Use Restrictions:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Pauline Newman is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred citation for publication:

Pauline Newman Papers, 1900-1980; item description, dates. MC 324, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Additional papers of Pauline Newman, 1926-1982 (83-M191--83-M198).


Pauline Newman, labor organizer, Director of Health Education at the Union Health Center of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), and member of the National and New York Women's Trade Union League (NWTUL/NYWTUL), was born in Popelan, Kuvna, Lithuania, in about 1890, the youngest of Meyer and Theresa Newman's two sons and four daughters. Meyer Newman sold fruit and taught Talmud to the well-to-do sons of the village. Following his death, Theresa Newman and her three youngest daughters, including Newman, left Lithuania and immigrated to the United States to join two of the older Newman children. They arrived at Ellis Island in May 1901 and went to live with members of the family on the Lower East Side of New York City.
Newman received her earliest education as a member of her father's Talmud class. In New York she was unable to attend public school because of the family's poverty, but she educated herself through extensive reading on her own and as a member of the Socialist Literary Society.
At the turn of the century the great majority of people on the Lower East Side were Russian Jewish immigrants living in crowded, poorly built tenements. Most of them worked in the garment trade for very low wages, with long hours, and in unpleasant and unhealthful surroundings. Many of the Jewish garment workers were veterans of the labor movement and Socialist parties in Russia and, by the time Newman arrived in New York, they were taking the first steps toward organizing the workers and demanding better treatment and wages from the factory owners.
Newman worked in a brush and then a cigarette factory before finding employment at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in September 1901. Exposed to the wretched conditions of the garment industry, she sought ways to improve the workers' situation and in time became involved with the Socialist Party and with two new labor groups: the ILGWU and the NYWTUL. In November 1909 Newman left the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. That month the first great garment strike in New York City, the "Uprising of the Twenty Thousand," took place. The ILGWU sent Newman upstate during the strike to address labor and women's groups and raise funds to help support the workers, who lacked the benefits of a strike fund.
Newman became the first woman organizer for the ILGWU and spent the years 1911-1918 traveling and organizing for the Union, particularly in the Midwest. In Cleveland in 1911 she helped to organize the Cloakmakers' strike and was jailed briefly. In 1912 in Kalamazoo she helped direct the Corsetmakers' strike, which resulted in the shutdown of factories unwilling to cooperate with the Union. Although most of her work during this period was for the ILGWU, she was also occasionally on loan to the Socialist Party. In 1914 she was appointed a factory inspector for the Joint Board of Sanitary Control and helped to establish a sanitary code for the women's garment factories in New York.
Newman became active in the NYWTUL in 1905; there she met other major figures in the labor movement, including Rose Schneiderman, Mary Dreier and Leonora O'Reilly. In 1918 the ILGWU loaned Newman to the Philadelphia WTUL, which she served as president and organizer until 1923; here she met Frieda Miller, who was then secretary of the Philadelphia WTUL and who became her lifelong friend. Newman remained actively involved with the WTUL until it was dissolved in 1950, serving as vice-president of the New York League and as a member of the Executive Board of the National WTUL.
In 1924 Newman returned to New York City and joined the staff of the ILGWU Union Health Center (UHC) as Education Director. During the following decades she represented both the ILGWU and the WTUL on numerous committees and at state, national and international meetings. For many years she served on five Minimum Wage Boards for New York State. She was a member of the Advisory Committees of the Research Division of the New York State Department of Labor and of the New York State Equal Pay Law. On the national level, Newman was a member of the Trade Union Advisory Committee of the U.S. Women's Bureau and of the Children's Bureau, a member of the Women's Committee on Defense Manpower, delegate to the Mid-Century White House Conference on Children and Youth (1950), consultant to the U.S. Public Health Service in the field of industrial hygiene, and a visiting expert for the U.S. Army in Germany, where she investigated the conditions of working women (1949). In 1919 Newman represented the WTUL at the Canadian Labor Congress and in 1923 at the International Congress of Working Women in Vienna. In 1951 she was a delegate to the International Labor Organization Conference on the Problems of Domestic Workers, and in 1962 a delegate to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Newman joined the Socialist Party as a young woman and by 1908 began speaking publicly on behalf of the Party and its platforms. She was twice a Socialist candidate: in 1908 for Secretary of State, and in 1918 to represent her district in Congress. Later she supported Franklin Roosevelt and the reforms of the New Deal.
Throughout her life Newman was an outspoken and articulate defender of the rights of working people in general, and of working women in particular. Her support of protective legislation, equal pay, improved working conditions and the minimum wage, and her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1930s are well-documented in her numerous articles, some published in ILGWU and WTUL publications, others in more widely circulated newspapers: the New York Call, New Leader, Labor Review, and Labor Woman. Newman also wrote a regular column in Justice, an ILGWU publication (115v, 116v), mostly on issues related to the UHC.
After 1924 Newman lived in New York City and often shared a home with Frieda Miller until the latter's death in 1973. Newman helped to raise Miller's adopted daughter, Elisabeth, and developed close ties to the latter's first husband, David Owen, who was Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, and their sons Hugh and Michael. In 1981 Newman died on April 8, 1986 in New York City.



The Pauline Newman papers have been divided into five series, each arranged chronologically except where noted. There are some papers from Newman's early professional life, but most of the collection is from the period after 1930.
Series I. Personal Papers contains biographical information and personal correspondence. The two oral histories (#5, 6) are rich sources of information about Newman's life and almost the only sources in this collection of information about her childhood and family. The personal correspondence documents the warm relationship between Newman and Frieda Miller and between Newman and Miller's daughter Elisabeth, son-in-law David Owen, and grandchildren Hugh and Michael Owen. There is much biographical information in the memoir Newman wrote for the Owen boys (#3).
Series II. National and New York Women's Trade Union League. is a diverse collection of reports, correspondence and other papers about WTUL positions and programs, spanning the years of the organization's existence, 1903-1950. It illuminates Newman's role in the League and her close relationship with several of its major leaders: e.g., Leonora O'Reilly, Rose Schneiderman, Elisabeth Christman and Mary Dreier. Of special interest are the letters between Newman and Rose Schneiderman. #77 contains letters written by Newman to Schneiderman while the former was traveling through the Midwest, 1919-1913, helping unions to organize new locals and strikes; they are eloquent descriptions of early union activities and Newman's part in them. These letters are copies of originals at Tamiment Library, New York University, as part of the Rose Schneiderman papers.
Series III. The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union is a record of Newman's long association with and devotion to the Union and the Union Health Center. Of special note are the articles by Newman, #112, 114, in which she discusses her early involvement with the Union and provides descriptions of the strikes she helped to organize.
Series IV. Other Professional Papers contains information about Newman's work for the New York State and federal governments and for other organizations. As Newman often established personal friendships with people she worked with, there has been no attempt to distinguish personal and professional correspondence. The correspondence with individuals (#141-64) is arranged alphabetically. M-44 is a microfilm of clippings (originals discarded) by and about Newman which provide a useful record of her early union activities and complements other types of records in the collection. A large number of the clippings are from Yiddish-language newspapers.
Series V. PHOTOGRAPHS. There are no photographs of Newman as a child or a young woman or of her family. #186 contains pictures of several women active in the labor movement.


The following catalog entries represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. An entry for each appears in the Harvard On Line Library Information System (HOLLIS) and other automated bibliographic databases. THIS IS NOT AN INDEX.
Adams, Mildred, 1894-1980
American Federation of Labor
Anderson, Mary, 1872-1964
Bolton, Frances Payne Bingham, 1885-1977
Bondfield, Margaret, 1873-1953
Borah, William Edgar, 1865-1940
Brownell, Herbert, 1904-1996
Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947
Child labor
Christman, Elisabeth, 1881-1975
Clothing workers
Coit, Eleanor G.
Cook, Cara
Cook, Nancy, 1882-1941
Douglas, Helen Gahagan, 1900-1980
Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1963
Dubinsky, David, 1892-1982
Edwards, India
Equal pay for equal work
Equal rights amendments--United States
Gawthorpe, Mary
Germany--Economic conditions
Green, William, 1870-1952
Harriman, W. Averell (William Averell), 1891-1986
Health education
Herrick, Elinore Morehouse
Hillman, Bessie
Hillquit, Morris, 1869-1933
Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1979
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
International Ladies’ Garment Workers' Union. Health Center
International labor activities
Ives, Irving McNeill, 1896-1962
Jacobs, Sophia Yarnall, 1902-1993
Jews--Social life and customs
Jews--Soviet Union
Keyserling, Mary Dublin
Kirchwey, Freda
La Guardia, Fiorello H. (Fiorello Henry), 1882-1947
Labor inspection
Labor laws and legislation--New York (State)
Labor movement
Labor unions
Lash, Joseph P., 1909-1987
Lehman, Herbert H. (Herbert Henry), 1878-1963
Lenroot, Katharine F. (Katharine Fredrica), 1891-1982
Meany, George, 1894-1980
Miller, Frieda S.
Minimum wage
National Women's Trade Union League of America
Nestor, Agnes
Newman, Pauline
Oral history
Oral histories
O'Reilly, Leonora, 1870-1927
Owen, David.
Paret, Bertha R.
Perkins, Frances, 1880-1965
Pesotta, Rose, 1896-
Peterson, Esther Eggertsen, 1906-1997
Polier, Justine Wise, 1903-1987
Politics, Practical
Rankin, Jeannette, 1880-1973
Robins, Margaret Dreier
Robins, Raymond, 1873-1954
Rooney, John J., 1903-1975
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
Schlesinger, Arthur M. (Arthur Meier), 1917-2007
Schneiderman, Rose, 1882-1972
Smith, Margaret Chase, 1897-1995
Socialist Party of the United States of America
Strikes and lockouts
Swartz, Maud
Swartz, Nelle
Switzer, Mary Elizabeth, 1900-1971
Textile workers
Thompson, Dorothy, 1893-1961
Tobin, Maurice J.
Tone, Gertrude Franchot
United States--Emigration and immigration--Personal narratives
United States. Women's Bureau
Van Kleeck, Mary, 1883-1972
Wagner, Robert F. (Robert Ferdinand), 1877-1953
Winslow, Mary N. (Mary Nelson)
Women--Social networks
Women--Suffrage--United States
Women's Trade Union League of Boston
Women's Trade Union League of New York
Women's Trade Union League of Philadelphia.
Woodsmall, Ruth Frances, 1883-1963
Work environment