Josephine Goldmark laid the groundwork for transforming American labor laws by amassing data that forced lawmakers to confront the painful realities of factory work. Goldmark briefly taught at Barnard before joining her sister, Pauline, at the National Consumers’ League. As NCL’s publications committee chair, she compiled data on working conditions, wrote articles and led campaigns for legislative reform, and recruited her brother-in-law, Louis D. Brandeis, to argue for those reforms in court. In 1908, the league brought a case before the Supreme Court, defending the constitutionality of an Oregon law limiting women’s workdays to ten hours. For the case, Goldmark helped compile the Brandeis Brief, a presentation of socially relevant facts and statistics that led to a groundbreaking court decision based on social need rather than legal precedent. Goldmark went on to write Fatigue and Efficiency in 1912, using evidence to argue that efficiency decreased with exhaustion and that the workday should therefore be limited. From 1912–1914 she worked with the Factory Investigating Committee of New York to investigate the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. She continued her work with NCL until her retirement in 1930, contributing to the laws regulating child labor and the minimum wage.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Josephine Clara Goldmark." (Viewed on June 12, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/goldmark-josephine>.