Maud Nathan

After her daughter’s death, Maud Nathan battled grief by throwing herself into social justice work, transforming herself from a simple society wife to influential social reformer. Nathan, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, came from a proud Sephardic family with ties to both Benjamin Cardozo and Emma Lazarus. In 1880, at age seventeen, she married her thirty-five-year-old cousin and began the traditional role of society wife, throwing parties and volunteering for charitable causes. But after her only child died in 1895, she focused on helping others to distract herself from her loss. Among her many commitments, she was vice president of the Woman’s Municipal League of New York and served as president of the New York Consumers League from 1897–1927. She believed that making consumers aware of workers’ suffering would put enough economic pressure on employers to force real reform. She also fought for women’s suffrage, and her husband Frederick lent his support as head of the Men’s League for Equal Suffrage. In 1897 she became the first woman invited to speak at the Sephardic synagogue Shearith Israel. She also wrote two books, Story of an Epoch-Making Movement (about the Consumers League) in 1926 and Once Upon a Time and Today in 1933.


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Maud Nathan at the International Woman Suffrage Congress, Budapest, 1913.

Courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Maud Nathan." (Viewed on August 5, 2020) <>.


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