Lillie Steinhorn

b. 1911

With sixty-five years of government service, Lillie Steinhorn holds the national record for being the longest employed federal employee.  Born in Baltimore in 1911, she has lived there her entire life, except for a brief period during the 1930s when she lived in Washington, D.C.  She graduated from high school in 1930 and worked at temporary jobs until 1935 when she began work as a clerk-typist for the federal government.  She continued to work in a variety of jobs, including card punch operator and statistician, mostly with the Social Security Administration, until her retirement in 2000 at age 89.  Lillie never married and continued to live at home with her parents, whom she cared for as they grew older.  Throughout her life, she has been close to her brother and sister and has maintained a special relationship with her niece and nephews.  She was active in B'nai B'rith Women, has traveled extensively, and enjoys the theater.  In her 90s, Lillie remains devoted to her family, works out at the gym, and enjoys her new home in a retirement community.

Scope and Content Note

Lillie Steinhorn describes her upbringing and remembers her siblings, school, and neighbors.  She discusses facing antisemitism and discrimination while working for the federal government in Baltimore.  Steinhorn recalls her brief stint in Washington during the New Deal era and her return to Baltimore, where she worked many different types of jobs.  She worked as a card punch operator, statistician, and bookkeeper for various government agencies.  Steinhorn then details her illness and subsequent hysterectomy and laments her mother's death.  She continues to tell stories about her various work experiences and beams at her accomplishment of being the record holder for years of government service.  After her many awards and years of service, Steinhorn cherished time with her friends and membership in both B'nai B'rith Women and Dolls for Democracy.  She concludes by recounting her travels around the world and reflecting on how Judaism shaped her life.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now

How to cite this page

Oral History of Lillie Steinhorn. Interviewed by Jean Freedman. 7 July 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 24, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/steinhorn-lillie>.

Oral History of Lillie Steinhorn 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 https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.