Rose Pastor Stokes (1879-1933)
- Stokes was born in Augustova, Poland. At a young age Stokes moved with her mother to England where they lived with family in the slums. Due to the economic situation, Stokes left school at age 8 to begin working.
- Stokes’ family moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1890. Stokes began working in a cigar sweatshop amongst other Jews. She worked here for 12 years and became the breadwinner, when her stepfather abandoned her family.
- Stokes began a regular contributor to the Yiddish Daily News which led to her moving to the lower east side of Manhattan in 1903. Her column allowed her to write on political topics including working people.
It was through this position that she interviewed millionaire James Graham Phelps Stokes who would become her husband. She was dubbed the “Cinderella of the sweatshops” due to her unlikely marriage due to the disparities in their backgrounds.
- She decided to use her new position as a way to be the voice of the worker. She devoted herself to lecturing on social issues including birth control activism. She supported Margaret Sanger who was arrested for distributing birth control literature. Stokes wrote two plays regarding pro-birth control as she believed birth control would be beneficial to the working class. She believed women had rights to use birth control.