You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Bessie Abramowitz devoted her life to unions, organizing her first strike at fifteen, announcing her engagement on a picket line, and continuing her efforts for workers’ rights until her death.

10 Things You Should Know About Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Born in 1889, Bessie Abramowitz Hillman grew up in the Russian empire, in the city of Grodno, now part of Belarus. When she was 15, she immigrated to America “to escape a marriage broker,” she later said. She settled in Chicago, where she had distant relatives. She was soon involved in the fight for better wages and working conditions.

The Top 10 Jewish Women in Labor History

Though we at JWA celebrate women’s history all year round, March brings us the great opportunity of Women’s History Month.

Labor leaders announce their engagement at May Day Parade

May 1, 1916

Labor leaders Bessie Abramowitz and Sidney Hillman announced their engagement while leading the clothing workers' contingent in the Chicago May Day Parade.

Socialism in the United States

Disproportionate numbers of Jewish immigrant women in America were associated with socialism in the first decades of the twentieth century. Their radicalism appears to have grown out of the same sources as male radicalism—the changes experienced by the Jewish community in late nineteenth-century Europe and America, including proletarianization and the secularization of Jewish religious values. But Jewish working women’s radical consciousness and their militant collective action in America emerged in the face of extraordinary obstacles.

Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Bas Sheva Abramowitz (“Bessie” was created by an Ellis Island immigration officer) was born on May 15, 1889, in Linoveh, a village near Grodno in Russia. She was one of ten children born to Emanuel Abramowitz, a commission agent, and Sarah Rabinowitz. In 1905, Bessie, who spoke only Yiddish and some Russian, joined an older cousin in immigrating to America. Most 1905 immigrants fled czarist oppression and anti-Jewish violence, but Bessie reported that her aim in leaving home was to escape the services of the local marriage broker.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Bessie Abramowitz Hillman." (Viewed on July 30, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/16376>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Sign Up for JWA eNews

 

Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs