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Birth of multi-talented Ruth Hagy Brod

May 31, 1911

Born in New York City on May 31, 1911, and raised in Chicago, Ruth Hagy Brod had a varied career that took her from the newsroom to Latin America and from the mainstream press to offbeat publishing.

As a child, Brod excelled in music, giving public recitals at age six and earning a bachelor's degree in music at age 18. She soon left music behind, however, and turned to journalism, going first to Hollywood, where she worked as an editor for movie and radio magazines. Moving to Philadelphia in 1938, she wrote features for the Philadelphia Ledger. Later, she would write for newspapers in Chicago and New York City as well. During the 1930s, she also worked as a radio reporter and documentary filmmaker. A decade later, she became women's editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin; while at the Bulletin she developed a program that became the "College News Conference," a weekly show where college students questioned prominent political figures. In the 1960s, she began to travel widely, producing a Peace Corps documentary on Colombia and a television series on Asian women. She worked as a newspaper correspondent in Southeast Asia and a Far East correspondent for NBC Radio, at a time when it was unusual for women to hold such roles. While making the Peace Corps documentary, she also served as an educational television advisor to the Colombian government.

Brod first entered public service during World War II, when she served as publicity director for the United War Chest campaigns and as a member of the women's advisory board executive committee for the U.S. Savings Bond division of the U.S. Treasury. Upon returning to New York from her overseas travels, she became involved in New York City politics. In the mid-1960s, she was appointed as director of public information for JOIN (Job Orientation in Neighborhoods), which worked with the U.S. Department of Labor to provide job training and placement services to young high school drop-outs. Later that decade, Brod served as a special assistant to Mayor Robert Wagner, and in 1967 she was the founder-director of the Mayor's Coordinating Council under Mayor John Lindsay. The Council functioned as a central volunteer coordinator for the city, recruiting some 6,000 volunteers in its first year.

In the 1970s, Brod embarked on yet another career, turning to publishing. She published two books of her own (both co-authored), Ena Twigg, Medium (1972) and The Edgar Cayce Handbook of Health Through Drugless Therapy (1975). She also worked as a literary agent, with clients that included Allard Lowenstein, a civil rights activist who was later assassinated, and James Hoffa, the Teamsters Union leader.

Brod died of cancer in 1980.

To learn more about Ruth Hagy Brod, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

Sources: Jewish Women in America, 186-187; New York Times, December 19, 1963, January 28, 1968, May 11, 1980.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Birth of multi-talented Ruth Hagy Brod." (Viewed on April 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/may/31/1911/ruth-hagy-brod>.