Matilda Rabinowitz's illustrated memoir challenges assumptions about the lives of early twentieth-century women. In Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman, Rabinowitz describes the ways in which she and her contemporaries rejected the intellectual and social restrictions imposed on women as they sought political and economic equality in the first half of the twentieth century. Rabinowitz devoted her labor and commitment to the notion that women should feel entitled to independence, equal rights, equal pay, and sexual and personal autonomy.
Rabinowitz (1887-1963) immigrated to the United States from Ukraine at the age of thirteen. Radicalized by her experience in sweatshops, she became an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World from 1912 to 1917 before choosing single motherhood in 1918. "Big Bill" Haywood once wrote, "a book could be written about Matilda," but her memoir was intended as a private story for her grandchildren, Robbin Legere Henderson among them. Henderson's black-and white-scratchboard drawings illustrate Rabinowitz's life in the Pale of Settlement, the journey to America, political awakening and work as an organizer for the IWW, a turbulent romance, and her struggle to support herself and her child.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 254 x 203 mm
"A fascinating, educational and engaging personal story written like a great novel rather than a typical memoir.... Matilda's story strengthens the resolve of women to find their own place in society in their own time and be inspired. I will recommend Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman to my college students as a must read."* Israel National News *
"Offers a sustained focus on labor in the early twentieth century, including factory conditions for women and men, intra-union dynamics, and the challenges facing working mothers.... Scholars will find much to love in this engaging, touching, and timely memoir that may not have been written for this wider audience but, happily, has found us."* Legacy 35.2 *
"Immigrant, socialist, labor organizer, feminist, Matilda Rabinowitz lived an extraordinary life, and this is an extraordinary document. Her memoirs, vivid and precise, are a vital contribution to the history of American radicalism, and more urgently relevant than ever. Robbin Legere Henderson's illustrations are nothing less than a marvel."-- Ben Ehrenreich, author of The Way to the Spring
"Matilda Rabinowitz, early twentieth-century socialist and traveling IWW organizer, had a hard immigrant life, moving from one job to another, dedicated to the struggle but dragged down by love for the wrong man. Her unpublished memoir has been resurrected by her granddaughter, and the result has enough social and economic detail for any labor historian and enough heartache for any lover of romance."-- Meredith Tax, author of The Rising of the Women
"This amazing project is a simultaneous reinvigoration of many cultural forms. It is a detective mystery, as Henderson travels around the Northeast discovering clues to her grandmother's past, and a story of family separation and reunion not over great distances, but across a gulf of time. This book is a precious history of an American, and Jewish, immigration experience. It is a partnership between a writer and a visual artist, and ultimately it is a collaboration between the twentieth and twenty-first centuries."-- Renny Pritikin, Chief Curator, Contemporary Jewish Museum
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