Women of Valor



Lillian Wald, 1867 - 1940

"It is very pleasant to return to my old home.... In coming back to Rochester, I inevitably compare the physical advantages of the children who are brought to manhood and womanhood in this environment with those of the children with whom my lot in life has been cast these many years."

Lillian D. Wald was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on March 10, 1867, the third of Max D. Wald and Minnie Schwarz's four children. Both the Wald and Schwarz families had left Europe after the 1848 revolutions to seek economic opportunities in America. While her father, a successful optical goods merchant, was practical and quiet, her mother was amiable and warm. Lillian led a privileged and happy childhood in a home that was always filled with books and music. She was very close to her siblings Alfred, Julia, and Gus and was devastated when Alfred accidentally drowned in 1885. Lillian considered herself "spoiled" as a child and warmly recalled the particular indulgence of her paternal grandfather. In 1878, the Wald family moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to Rochester, New York, which Wald always considered her hometown. She was educated at an English-French boarding school, excelling in science, math, and the arts. Though Wald's family was a member of the Reform Temple Berith Kodesh, she received no formal Jewish training.

  1. "It is very pleasant..." From a Speech by Lillian Wald for the New York State Suffrage Convention, Rochester NY, October 15, 1914. Courtesy of The New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York, NY.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Lillian Wald - Birth." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/wald/birth>.