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Rose Pastor Stokes

Called the “Cinderella of the sweatshops,” Rose Pastor Stokes made headlines when she married millionaire socialist James Graham Phelps Stokes. Rose went to work in a sweatshop at age eleven and was the sole wage earner for her family after her stepfather abandoned them. In 1901, she began writing letters for the Yidishes Tageblat, soon becoming a regular columnist. Through her work, she met her future husband, whom she married amidst a media storm in 1905. Stokes became a prominent speaker for the Socialist Party of America as well as a union organizer, focusing on women workers. She also lobbied in support of Margaret Sanger and co-wrote two plays on birth control. Stokes used her unique position to her advantage, with her working-class background giving her credibility while her upper-class marriage protected her from arrest. In 1918, however, she was arrested and tried for her anti-war activism. She also served on the Communist Party’s Central Executive Committee, organizing women’s groups within the party. In 1926, her marriage ended in divorce and she supported herself with her writing while continuing her political activism.

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She was called the "Cinderella of the sweatshops" when, as a young reporter, Rose Pastor Stokes met and married millionaire James Graham Phelps Stokes. The fairy tale romance did not last, however. Stokes became increasingly radical, adopting antiwar and pro-abortion stands and joining the Communist Party.

Institution: U.S. Library of Congress

Date of Birth
July 18, 1879
Place of Birth
Augustova
Date of Death
June 20, 1933

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rose Pastor Stokes." (Viewed on December 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/stokes-rose>.

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