Women of Valor


Speaking & Writing

Emma Goldman, 1869 - 1940

Goldman devoted the next decades to spreading her vision of an ideal society. A gifted orator, she toured the United States several times a year, lecturing in German, Yiddish and English. In addition to lending her voice to local labor and political battles, she spoke out on such topics as anarchism, politics, drama, birth control, economic freedom for women, radical education, and anti-militarism. On her 1910 tour, she spoke 120 times in thirty-seven cities in twenty-five states, reaching 25,000 people.

Goldman also wrote extensively, drafting many pamphlets, penning thousands of letters to countless correspondents, and contributing articles and essays to numerous anarchist and mainstream periodicals. She published the first of many editions of Anarchism and Other Essays in 1910; her ideas on modern theater appeared in 1914 as The Social Significance of the Modern Drama.

The diverse audiences that flocked to hear Goldman included not only the immigrant laborers who seemed her most natural constituency, but also middle-class men and women, intellectuals, and even farmers attracted by her unconventional opinions and her charisma. As well as encouraging the working classes to resist exploitation by capitalist oppressors, she appealed consciously to members of the middle class, whose participation she believed was necessary for the success of the revolution and whose oppression she believed took its own, unrecognized forms.

In 1906, acting from her growing conviction that "the most violent element in society is ignorance," Goldman founded her own political and literary magazine. Running until 1917, Mother Earth served as a forum for anarchist ideas and news of international movements, as well as a venue in which radical artists and writers could express themselves.

  1. Quotation "the most violent element in society is ignorance" from Emma Goldman, "Anarchism: What it Really Stands For," in Anarchism and Other Essays (New York: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1910), 55-56.
  2. Additional information from "Biographical Essay on Emma Goldman" on the website of the Emma Goldman Papers, accessed March 26, 2002, available at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/goldman/Curricula/bioessay.html; Emma Goldman, Living My Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931); Alice Wexler, Emma Goldman in Exile: From the Russian Revolution to the Spanish Civil War (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989), 142-143.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Emma Goldman - Speaking & Writing." (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/goldman/speaking-writing>.