Theresa Serber Malkiel fought for workers’ rights, becoming the first female factory worker to rise to leadership in the Socialist Party. Malkiel immigrated to the US in 1891 and became a garment worker. Three years later, she helped found the Infant Cloak Maker’s Union, and by 1896 she had become a delegate for the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance. Despite marriage and motherhood, she remained active in the labor movement, organizing the Women’s Progressive Society of Yonkers and stumping on behalf of the Women’s Trade Union League. She led the Socialist Party’s National Women’s Committee and argued for women’s right to a greater voice within the party. In 1911, a year before the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Malkiel wrote Diary of a Shirtwaist Maker, and after the tragedy her book helped fuel public support to reform labor laws. Malkiel eventually shifted away from using socialism as a vehicle for change and began a second career in adult education, founding the Brooklyn Adult Students Association in the 1920s. She served as administrator over the Association’s classes and their summer camp for twenty years until her death.
More on Theresa Serber Malkiel
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Theresa Serber Malkiel." (Viewed on November 15, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/malkiel-theresa>.