Rosalie Silber Abrams

b. June 2, 1916

The first Jewish woman elected to the Maryland State Senate, Rosalie Silber Abrams was an energetic and activist legislator who oversaw the passage of nearly 300 bills during her seventeen-year career in the Maryland General Assembly. Born in 1916, Rosalie's early life revolved around her family's business, Silber's Bakery, a beloved Baltimore institution famous for its rye bread, peach cake and chocolate-topped cookies. Rosalie obtained business and nursing degrees before managing Silber's from 1947 to 1953. She then married William Abrams, had daughter Elizabeth in 1954, and was an at-home mom until running for the House of Delegates in 1966. In 1970, Rosalie was elected to the State Senate, departing in 1983 to become Director of the Maryland Office of Aging until her retirement in 1996. Recognized for her outstanding leadership, Rosalie was awarded a First Citizen Award by the Maryland State Senate. Rosalie has been a strong social activist throughout her life, marching for women's equal rights, and working to legalize abortion. Rosalie Abrams died on February 27, 2009.

Scope and Content Note

Senator Abrams, an advocate of progressive health measures, was born in Baltimore, the daughter of Isaac and Dora Silber. Her parents owned Silber's Bakery. Rosalie graduated from Western High School and enrolled at Sinai Hospital School of Nursing. After serving as a nurse during World War II, she married William Abrams, a real estate broker in Baltimore, Maryland. Her experience as a nurse led her into politics in the 1960s, in order to make changes in the healthcare system and improve nurses' salaries. In 1963, she earned a BA in social science from McCoy College, the evening division of John Hopkins University. In 1969, she earned a master's in political science from JHU. From 1967 to 1971, she was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and served as Chairman of the Health & Welfare Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee throughout that period. She joined the Senate in 1971 and served as majority leader from 1979 until her retirement in 1983. at that time, she assumed the job of Director of the Maryland State Office on Aging. She retired from public service in 1995. She has received numerous awards and commendations, including the Louise Waterman Wise Community Service Award (1969), the Award of achievement of the American Academy of Comprehensive Health Planning, and a special award for distinguished public service and leadership from Baltimore's Jewish Family Services. Rosalie Abrams died on February 27, 2009. 

How to cite this page

Oral History of Rosalie Silber Abrams. Interviewed by Marcie Cohen Ferris. 24 May 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on November 28, 2023) <>.

Oral History of Rosalie Silber Abrams by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at


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