This Week in History


Birth of Caroline Klein Simon, anti-discrimination pioneer

November 12, 1900
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Though she claimed she was not a feminist, attorney and later judge Caroline Klein Simon said that for a woman to succeed she "must look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, and work like a dog." Her hard work was evident in her long career as a politician and public servant.

Institution: The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, OH,

Caroline Klein Simon, a pioneering attorney, communal worker, and state official, was born on November 12, 1900. After graduating from law school in 1925, Simon was unable to find a law firm that would hire her. She turned to volunteering, working as an unpaid clerk at a law office and immersing herself in political work with many of New York City's secular and Jewish women's organizations. She involved herself particularly in issues of crime prevention and correction.

In 1935, Simon became executive director of the New York State Council of Jewish Women. Throughout her long and active life, Simon worked to change a number of discriminatory laws in her community. In the 1930s, Simon led a campaign to allow women to serve on juries in New York. In the 1940s, she helped to draft the nation's first state law on job bias based on religion, race, or nationality, and was a founding member of the State Commission Against Discrimination. In 1957, Simon became the first woman to be nominated for city-wide office in New York City. Although she lost that election for president of the New York City Council, Governor Nelson Rockefeller named her New York Secretary of State in 1959. She held that position for four years. In 1958 Simon also served as the legal advisor to the American delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. In the 1960s, she sat on the New York Court of Claims. Simon remained active in legal work into her nineties.

To learn more about Caroline Klein Simon, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: This Week in History for January 1, 1959, "Caroline Klein Simon sworn in as NY Secretary of State"; Caroline Klein Simon in the Virtual Archive.

Sources: Jewish Women in America, Vol. 2, p. 1258-1260;"Caroline K. Simon is Dead at 92; Led Fight Against Discrimination," New York Times, July 30, 1993.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Birth of Caroline Klein Simon, anti-discrimination pioneer." (Viewed on April 20, 2014) <>.