By Brianna Washington, undergraduate, Louisiana State University
Rose Gratz Fishstein was born in Russia in 1895. While in her country of origin, she was jailed for revolutionary activities. In 1910, at the age of fifteen, she was released on bail, and immigrated to the United States. She settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she was employed as a dressmaker in the clothing industry and later became a union organizer. On February 9, 1919 she was arrested during a watch fire demonstration and sentenced to five days in jail. After her release from jail, Fishstein returned to Philadelphia, continued her career as a dressmaker and had two daughters, Ruth and Elenore.
After Fishstein moved back to Pennsylvania, she reconnected with her ties at the Jewish Welfare Society of Philadelphia. In a 1927 issue of The Jewish Social Service Quarterly, it was reported that Fishstein was appointed as a supervisor with the Jewish Welfare Society of Philadelphia. The Quarterly also mentioned her prior involvement as a “special worker” with the Jewish Social Service Bureau of Chicago, although no year is given. Despite her social involvement before and after immigration, little else is known about Mrs. Rose Gratz Fishstein.
A brief paragraph about Rose Gratz Fishstein can be found in Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920). Fishstein is also mentioned in “Professional News and Notes,” The Jewish Social Service Quarterly 3, no.3 (March 1927): 92-97. She is also mentioned in the 1930 Philadelphia County Pennsylvania census.
1. According to Stevens, Jailed for Freedom, Fishstein was a New York Commission Factory inspector. However, it would be highly unlikely that she served on the commission, as she would have only been sixteen at the time of its founding in 1911. It is more likely to assume that her sister-in-law, Rose Fishstein, served in this capacity.
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