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Theresa Wolfson

WOLFSON, THERESA (1897–1972), U.S. economist. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Wolfson received her B.A. from Adelphi College in 1917, her M.A. from Columbia University in 1923, and her Ph.D. from the Brookings Institution in 1926. A specialist in labor economics and industrial relations, she researched and published studies on discrimination against women in the workplace and within trade unions. A researcher, activist, and educator, Wolfson began her long career investigating wage standards and working conditions in the New York garment industry. She worked as a field agent for the National Child Labor Committee (1918–20), as executive secretary of the New York State Consumers League (1920–22), and then as director of education at the Union Health Center of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (1925–27). Wolfson married Dr. Iago Galdston in 1920 and the couple had two children. Following a 1935 divorce, Wolfson married Austin Bigelow Wood, a professor of psychology at Brooklyn College, in 1938.

In 1928 Wolfson was appointed instructor of economics at the Brooklyn branch of Hunter College, soon to become Brooklyn College, and was subsequently promoted to the rank of professor of economics and labor relations. She also taught adult education courses for the ILGWU, the Headgear Workers Union, and the Summer School for Office Workers, as well as courses in the continuing education program at Sarah Lawrence College after her retirement from Brooklyn College in 1967. During her lifetime, Wolfson's students dedicated a collection of books on labor-management relations at Brooklyn College Library in her honor; after her death, her colleagues established an annual scholarship for graduate study in labor economics in her memory.

In addition to her book, The Woman Worker and the Trade Unions (1926), Wolfson published many scholarly and popular articles and was on the editorial board of The Woman Today. She served on the public panel of the War Labor Board (1942–45); the national panel of arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association; the State Board of Mediation (1946–53); the Kings County Council Against Discrimination (1949–53); and as New York chapter president and member of the executive board of the Industrial Relations Research Association. In 1957, she received the John Dewey Award of the League for Industrial Democracy in recognition of her achievements as mediator of industrial disputes. Theresa Wolfson's extensive papers can be found in the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation in the Catherwood Library at Cornell University.


A.J. Lyke. "Wolfson, Theresa," in: Jewish Women in America, 2:1487–88; R. Milkman (ed.), Women, Work and Protest (1985).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.