A social reformer ahead of her time, Bertha Floersheim Rauh initiated dozens of vital services and completely overhauled Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Welfare. As a teenager, Rauh began volunteering with Jewish immigrants. From 1904–1919 she served as president of the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, creating programs like the Penny Lunch for school children, a labor bureau for the unemployed, and a local committee that eventually became the National Association for the Blind. She helped found a Juvenile Court with social workers to help reform young offenders, as well as a society to oversee pasteurized milk and clean water for poor children. From 1922–1934 she served as Director of Public Charities—the city government’s first woman cabinet member. She changed the name to the Department of Public Welfare and completely overhauled it, creating a Social Service Department, a Mental Health Clinic, and a system of District Physicians to tend the sick and indigent. She transformed Mayview Hospital, a local asylum, by adding physical and occupational therapies as well as social workers to oversee patients’ transitions to the outside world. After retirement, Rauh continued to work as an activist, lobbying for civic causes.
More on Bertha Floersheim Rauh
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Bertha Floersheim Rauh." (Viewed on April 26, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/rauh-bertha>.