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Rose Gollup Cohen


COHEN, ROSE GOLLUP (1880–1925?), U.S. author and memoirist, was born in Belarus, the eldest child of Abraham (Avrom) Gollup, a tailor, and his wife, Annie (maiden name unknown). Rose immigrated with an aunt to New York City in 1892, joining her father, who had arrived in 1890. The rest of the family followed a year later. Cohen's 1918 autobiography, Out of the Shadow (rep. 1995), offers a rich account of her childhood in Russia, immigration to the United States, and life in New York City's Lower East Side, including a detailed view of sweatshop garment work. She recounts union organizing in her shop, her attendance at a mass union meeting, and joining a union, probably the United Hebrew Trades. She also describes a brief stint as a domestic servant, her rejection of an arranged marriage, and increasing health problems. During one illness, Lillian *Wald , the noted settlement worker, visited Cohen's home and sent her to uptown Presbyterian Hospital where she met wealthy non-Jews who sponsored summer outings for immigrant children. Cohen worked successive summers at a Connecticut retreat, and, like other immigrants found herself torn between Old World traditions and broader American culture. Wald also referred Rose Gollup to a cooperative shirtwaist shop under the direction of Leonora O'Reilly, later a board member of the National Women's Trade Union League. When O'Reilly began teaching at the Manhattan Trade School for Girls in 1902, she recruited Rose Gollup as her assistant.

Little is known about Cohen's later life. She married Joseph Cohen and stopped working upon the birth of her daughter, Evelyn. She continued her education after marriage, attending classes at Breadwinners' College at the Educational Alliance, the Rand School, and University Extension at Columbia University. In addition to her enthusiastically received autobiography, which also appeared in French and Russian translations, Cohen wrote eight short pieces published in New York and Philadelphia magazines between 1918 and 1922. A short story, "Natalka's Portion," was reprinted six times, appearing in the prestigious Best Short Stories of 1922. In 1923 and 1924 Cohen attended the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where she met the American impressionist painter Lilla Cabot Perry and the poet Edwin Arlington Robinson. An untimely death, perhaps a suicide, cut short her promising literary career. Her autobiography survives as her legacy, a moving account of a cultural journey shared with many other Jewish immigrant women at the turn of the 19th century.


T. Dublin, Introduction to Out of the Shadow (1995); L. O'Reilly, "Rahel and 'Out of the Shadow,'" in: Life and Labor (May 1919), 103–5; A. Yezierska, "Wild Winter Love," in: Century Magazine 113 (Feb. 1927): 485–91.

[Thomas Dublin (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.