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Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA)

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca: The People's Voice

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca was not a women’s rights activist. She was a people’s rights activist.

She understood the problems of the working class—people of all genders, ages, and backgroundsand sought to improve conditions for workers.

It just so happened that along the way, she became a leader in a way that was unprecedented for women of her era.

Joyce D. Miller, 1928 - 2012

Joyce Dannen Miller was born in Chicago on June 19, 1928. Her father ran a dry goods store and her mother was a teacher at a school for the deaf, mute, and blind. While in school at the University of Chicago, she worked in a gumball factory, which brought her into the bakery and confectionery workers’ union. By the early 1970s, she had made a name for herself setting up the “Rolls Royce of day care centers” through the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America in Chicago.

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca made huge strides for worker’s rights as a union leader and through civil service.

10 Things You Should Know About Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Born in 1889, Bessie Abramowitz Hillman grew up in the Russian empire, in the city of Grodno, now part of Belarus. When she was 15, she immigrated to America “to escape a marriage broker,” she later said. She settled in Chicago, where she had distant relatives. She was soon involved in the fight for better wages and working conditions.

Socialism in the United States

Disproportionate numbers of Jewish immigrant women in America were associated with socialism in the first decades of the twentieth century. Their radicalism appears to have grown out of the same sources as male radicalism—the changes experienced by the Jewish community in late nineteenth-century Europe and America, including proletarianization and the secularization of Jewish religious values. But Jewish working women’s radical consciousness and their militant collective action in America emerged in the face of extraordinary obstacles.

Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Bas Sheva Abramowitz (“Bessie” was created by an Ellis Island immigration officer) was born on May 15, 1889, in Linoveh, a village near Grodno in Russia. She was one of ten children born to Emanuel Abramowitz, a commission agent, and Sarah Rabinowitz. In 1905, Bessie, who spoke only Yiddish and some Russian, joined an older cousin in immigrating to America. Most 1905 immigrants fled czarist oppression and anti-Jewish violence, but Bessie reported that her aim in leaving home was to escape the services of the local marriage broker.

Hortense Powdermaker

Hortense Powdermaker explored the balance of involvement and detachment necessary for participant-observer fieldwork in cultural anthropology, stressing the ability to “step in and out of society.” Her secular Jewish identity was apparently a factor in learning this skill, exemplified in an academic career that included thirty years of college teaching and the writing of five major books based on widely diverse fieldwork studies.

Labor Movement in the United States

Jewish American women have played a central role in the American labor movement since the beginning of the twentieth century. As women, they brought to trade unions their sensibilities about the organizing process and encouraged labor to support government regulation to protect women in the workforce. As Jews who emerged from a left-wing cultural tradition, they nurtured a commitment to social justice, which would develop into what is often called “social unionism.” From their position as an ethnic and religious minority, as well as from their position as women, they helped to shape the direction of the mainstream labor movement.

Ruth Gay

With a few strokes of her pen, Ruth Glazer (later Gay) painted a vivid portrait of the culture of second-generation Jews in New York. As a free-lance writer and editor for over fifty years, she has explored the Jewish experience of both America and Germany.

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca

The New York Times described Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca as one of America’s foremost women labor leaders. An outstanding union organizer and a captivating speaker, she was born in Zemel, Latvia, on August 10, 1894.

Pages

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA)." (Viewed on December 16, 2017) <https://jwa.org/tags/amalgamated-clothing-workers-of-america-acwa>.

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