You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Sadie American

Forceful, dedicated, and brash, Sadie American shaped the National Council of Jewish Women for more than twenty years before resigning and severing all ties with the organization. In 1891, American joined the organizing committee for the Jewish Women’s Congress and called for the creation of the National Council of Jewish Women at the congress’s close. She was elected corresponding secretary of the NCJW and became executive secretary in 1905, essentially acting as the organization’s executive director and its spokesperson both across the country and abroad. She also took on leadership roles for a number of local Jewish and civic organizations, from the Maxwell Street Settlement House to the Women’s Club of Chicago to the Illinois Consumers’ League. Under American, the NCJW greatly expanded its reach and focused its mandate on social welfare and philanthropy. But over time, her strong personality and her controversial opinions on issues like changing the Sabbath to Sunday created tensions. While she was repeatedly reelected, she finally resigned in 1914 rather than face a constitutional change that would have severely limited the authority of her position.

Sadie American
Full image
Sadie American was a driving force behind the National Council of Jewish Women.
Courtesy of Project Gutenberg
Date of Birth
March 3, 1862
Place of Birth
Chicago, Illinois
Date of Death
May 3, 1944

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Sadie American." (Viewed on February 18, 2019) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Sign Up for JWA eNews


Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs