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The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Miriam Pimstone

Miriam Pimstone received a B. A. Honours degree in history and political science at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa and taught history at senior school level. She became principal of Herzlia Primary School in Cape Town and on her retirement acted for a number of years as educational consultant for the Jewish Day School system in Cape Town. She has been closely associated with the Cape Town Holocaust Centre in Cape Town since its establishment in 1999 as a text writer for its permanent exhibition and chief researcher and text writer for its first traveling exhibition: Seeking Refuge: German Jewish Immigration to the Cape in the 1930s.

Articles by this author

Irma Stern

Irma Stern was a remarkably prolific artist, holding more than a hundred solo exhibitions. It took time for Stern's espousal of modernism, color, and rhythm to find acceptance in the conservative art world of South Africa. After her death, the Irma Stern Museum, administered by the University of Cape Town, was opened.

Phyllis Spira

As a young dancer at the Royal Ballet School in London, Phyllis Spira was on the brink of a successful career abroad, but  in 1965 she returned to her home in South Africa and became the country's prima ballerina. Spira was awarded the  Nederburg Prize for ballet in 1972 and 1979. Her most notable achievement was perhaps leading “Dance For All,” a program to provide disadvantaged students opportunities to dance.

Bertha Solomon

As one of the first women’s rights activists in South Africa, Bertha Solomon used her positions as one of the first practicing women advocates in South Africa and as a member of parliament to work to expand the rights of all South African women. Throughout her long career in government, Solomon acted as a parliamentary watchdog over women’s rights, committed to ensuring women’s suffrage and marital rights.

Sarah Gertrude Millin

With a career of over thirty years, Sarah Gertrude Millin was one of South Africa’s most prolific literary figures of the twentieth century. The racism and conservative political attitudes that pervade her work, however, have lowered her status in South African literary history.

Gill Marcus

After the African National Congress was unbanned in South Africa in 1990, Gill Marcus quickly became a central figure in the party, helping to build a communications infrastructure in preparation for the transition to democracy. She was later elected to Parliament, where she served as the Deputy Finance Minister in 1996 and then Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank in 1999.

Ellen Phyllis Hellmann

Delving into the appalling disparities and conditions of Black South Africans through her anthropological research as a student, Ellen Phyllis Hellmann dedicated her life to South African racial justice causes, playing a crucial role in the work of the South African Institute of Race Relations. Her opposition to the apartheid regime led her into politics, where she was a founding member of the liberal Progressive Party.

Nadine Gordimer

In 1991, writer, journalist, and activist Nadine Gordimer became the first South African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Gordimer’s work presents a sweeping canvas of a South African society, where all have been affected by the institutionalized racial discrimination and oppression of apartheid.

Ruth First

Ruth First was a prolific writer and her penetrating investigative journalism exposed many of the harsh conditions under which the majority of South Africans lived. As various restrictions prevented her from continuing her work as a journalist Ruth First became more and more involved with the underground movement that was changing its tactics from protest to sabotage.

Ray Alexander (Simons)

Ray Alexander began her involvement in communist and trade unionist organizations as a child in Latvia. After moving to South Africa as a teen, Alexander became a prominent organizer for several trade unions and faced banning and harassment from the government for her activism. She continued advocating for women’s rights, worker’s rights, and racial equality throughout her life.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Miriam Pimstone." (Viewed on June 30, 2022) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/pimstone-miriam>.

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