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Rose Pastor Stokes Papers

Call Number



1905-1933, inclusive
; 1913-1933, bulk


Stokes, Rose Pastor, 1879-1933
Feinberg, Ann (Role: Donor)


3.25 Linear Feet in 6 manuscript boxes and 1 half manuscript box.

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.


Rose Pastor Stokes (1879-1933), born Rose Wieslander in Russian Poland, was a leading Jewish-American socialist, birth control advocate, and after the Russian revolution, a communist. Stokes helped organize garment workers in New York City, wrote for the Jewish Daily News, The Masses and other left periodicals, and was the author of several feminist plays. Stokes was married to wealthy socialist James Phelps Stokes from 1905-1925, married communist leader Jerome Isaac Romaine (also known as Victor J. Jerome) in 1927, and died of cancer in Berlin in 1933.

Biographical Note

Throughout the early 20th century, Rose Pastor Stokes was an extremely controversial and widely publicized socialist and communist. She was born to Jewish parents, Jacob and Anna Wieslander, on 18 July 1879 in Russian Poland. After her parents' separation in 1882, her mother relocated in London's East Side and married a cigar maker named Israel Pastor, whose surname Rose took. Rose attended the Bell Lane Free School for only two years and then assisted her mother in making satin bows for slippers.

In 1890, the Pastors came to America and settled in Cleveland, Ohio. Because of the economic plight of her family Rose went to work, in a cigar factory. In July 1901, Rose responded to an advertisement in the Jewish Daily News requesting information from factory workers. The newspaper not only published her story, but Rose was invited to become a regular contributor. After her family moved to New York City in 1903, Rose worked as an assistant to the editor of the Jewish Daily News. Her responsibilities in this position included writing an advice column to young women in the newspaper's English section, writing sketches and human interest features about the East Side of New York, and submitting short verses and editorials.

In July 1903, Rose was sent to interview James Graham Phelps Stokes, a wealthy resident of the University Settlement House. Impressed by his dedication to socialism and reform, Rose became a close friend of Stokes and eventually the friendship turned to love. The couple married on July 18th 1905 and, after a European honeymoon, they rented an apartment near the University Settlement.

Although initially committed to settlement work, the Stokes' gradually turned their attention to socialist endeavors. In September 1905, James helped form the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, an organization dedicated to promoting the study of socialism among college students and faculty members. During the following year, James and Rose became members of the Socialist Party and worked diligently for various socialist activities and causes.

By 1912, James began to devote less of his time to socialism and more to research and writing. Rose, on the other hand, began to emerge as an effective socialist and labor leader. In May and June of 1912, Rose helped to lead a strike by the New York City restaurant and hotel workers and, in the winter of 1913, she aided the New York garment workers in their bitter strike. During this period, Rose also began to devote considerable time to writing proletarian plays and poetry. In 1916, she wrote The Women Who Wouldn't which was a play about the rise of a woman labor leader. Rose also contributed numerous poems and articles to such publications as The Masses, Independent, and Century.

Rose's artistic accomplishments did not detract from her social crusades. Foremost among Rose's causes at this time was her campaign in 1915 and 1916 to overturn the conviction of a labor leader, Patrick Quinlan, who had been arrested for his participation in the Paterson silk workers strike. Eventually, Rose and her supporters were able to overturn Quinlan's conviction. Another cause which occupied a considerable amount of Rose's time was the fight to distribute birth control information. While engaged in this campaign, Rose organized meetings for Margaret Sanger and Emma Goldman, both of whom were frequently arrested for lecturing on contraception.

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Rose and James were among those who withdrew from the Socialist Party because of its anti-war position. For James the separation from the Socialist Party was permanent, but Rose changed her mind after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and was readmitted to the party in February 1918. In March 1918, Rose was indicted under the Espionage Act for making the following statement to the Kansas City Women's Dining Club: "No government which is for the profiteers can be also for the people, and I am for the people, while the government is for the profiteers." On 1 June 1918, Rose was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in the Missouri State Penitentiary. In March 1920, an appeals court reversed her conviction and, in November 1921, the case was dismissed.

While her case was still pending in the courts, Rose became involved in the Socialist Party's "Left Wing Caucus" disputes. Obviously sympathetic with the left wing of the Michigan branch and the foreign language locals, Rose withdrew from the Socialist Party for the second time and became a founding member of the Communist Party. In 1922, Rose traveled to Moscow as an American delegate to the Fourth Congress of the Communist International. During these proceedings, Rose served as the reporter for the special Negro Commission. Upon her return to the United States, Rose was elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the newly formed Workers' Party. It was at this time that Rose adopted the pseudonym "Sasha".

Rose's marriage was jeopardized as a result of her activities with the communists. On 17 October 1925, James was granted an interlocutory decree of divorce, thus setting the two political opponents free to pursue their own careers. Two years later, Rose married Jerome Isaac Romaine (also known as Victor J. Jerome), a language teacher and an active communist. Following the marriage, Rose retained the name of Stokes and continued her controversial activities with the Communist Party. In 1930, Rose learned that she had cancer and thus retired to Westport, Connecticut. Upon learning about Rose's physical condition, many of her communist friends raised funds to send her to Europe for medical treatment. While being treated for the disease in a Frankfurt am Main municipal hospital, Rose Pastor Stokes died on 20 June 1933.


Folders are arranged by topic.

Scope and Contents

The Rose Pastor Stokes Papers, 1905-1933, consist of 44 subject files (some contain multiple folders) and several subfiles pertaining to Stokes' public and personal life. The subject files in this collection were established by Rose Pastor Stokes when she was preparing to write her autobiography. All of the items have been left in their original order except where another file was considered more appropriate for an item. Each of the subject files has been assigned a microfilm reel frame number and each of the sub-files have been assigned the same frame number as its major file and an alphabetical designation (i.e. XIX:15A, in which the roman numeral XIX indicates that the Stokes Papers are the 19th collection within the microfilm set titled Socialist Collections in the Tamiment Library). A full citation for each of the subject files and sub-files can be found in the complete reel list for this collection.

This collection contains considerable correspondence in both the specific correspondence files and other subject files. The bulk of the correspondence was written from 1914 to 1918. In the Intercollegiate Socialist Society file (1), there are approximately 60 letters, including those from Harry W. Laidler, James Graham Phelps Stokes, and Rose Pastor Stokes. The subject file pertaining to birth control and the National Birth Control League (7) contains approximately 141 letters, many of which are from women asking for birth control information. Some of the principal correspondents in this file are Margaret Sanger, Ben Reitman, and Leonard D. Abbott.

There is correspondence in this collection relating to various members of the Stokes family (13a-13c). Included in these sub-files are letters from Rose Pastor Stokes; James Graham Phelps Stokes; Anna Pastor (her mother); Bernard, Cecil, and Maurice Pastor (her half-brothers); Lillian Pastor (her half-sister); Anson Phelps Stokes (her brother-in-law); Caroline Stokes; Helen Phelps Stokes (her sister-in-law); William Earl Dodge Stokes; and William Pletcher (Lillian Pastor's husband).

The largest quantity of correspondence in this collection is located in the chronological correspondence file (frame XIX:15), which contains letters from Eugene V. Debs, Max Eastman, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Kahlil Gibran (see also frame 38), Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Emma Goldman, Victor J. Jerome, Harry W. Laidler, Scott Nearing, Margaret Sanger, Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, Rose Strunsky, Horace Traubel, Anna Strunsky Walling, and William English Walling. Following are undated correspondence (frame XIX:15A), arranged in alphabetical order by the last name of the author of the letter. Some of the major correspondents in this sub-file include Harry W. Laidler, Walter Lippmann, Scott Nearing, Ida Rauh, Rose Strunsky, and Horace Traubel. The undated and unidentified correspondence (frame XIX:15B) contains only 15 letters. There are also separate correspondence folders relating to such individuals as Olive Telford Dargan (frame XIX:15D), Ann (Kaplan) Williams Feinberg (frame XIX:15E), Lincoln Steffens and Daniel Kiefer (frame XIX:15F), and J. Edward Morgan (frame XIX:15G).

Another significant amount of correspondence is located in the subject files relating to the Patrick Quinlan case (frame XIX:22-22b). Some of the major correspondents in these files are Patrick Quinlan, Rose Pastor Stokes, Walter Lippmann, Morris Hillquit, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

Among the writings of Rose Pastor Stokes in this collection are the following: a manuscript of a play jointly written by Rose Pastor Stokes and Alice Blache, entitled, Shall the Parents Decide? (frame XIX:4); a few pages from Rose's autobiography (frame XIX:6); several short articles on the Patrick Quinlan case (frame XIX:22); two poems (frame XIX:23); three sketches about Russia based on Rose's observations as an American delegate to the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in Moscow (frame XIX:24); and a five page essay concerning prison conditions (frame XIX:42).

Virtually all of the subject files and sub-files in this collection include numerous newspaper clippings. The clippings are arranged in chronological order within each file and sub-file. It should also be. emphasized that the newspaper clippings always precede other items within each file and dub-file.

Frame XIX:6A consists of reproductions of 11 photographs which have been arranged in chronological order and include both portraits of Rose Pastor Stokes -and group photographs of prominent socialists. In the lower right-hand corner of each photograph is a number that corresponds with the description of that particular ­photograph in the complete reel list.

The only items which were not filmed in the Rose Pastor Stokes Papers were: three photographs of Rose Pastor Stokes, two newspaper clippings relating to woman's suffrage, two copyrighted publications concerning marriage, and one newspaper clip­ping pertaining to lynching.


Feinberg, Ann

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by Rose Pastor Stokes, was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from Fred Jerome, the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Rose Pastor Stokes Papers; TAM 053; box number; folder number or item identifier; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Location of Materials

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Ann Feinberg, 1973. The accession numbers associated with this gift are 1973.001, 1973.004, and NPA.1997.001.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Due to the fragile nature of the original materials, researchers must use the microfilmed version; microfilm call number is Film R-7124, Reels 67-68.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

TAM 110 Olive Tilford Dargan Papers (Letters to Rose Pastor Stokes)

Socialist Collections in the Tamiment Library, 1872-1956 : A Guide to the Microfilm Edition / edited by Thomas C. Pardo. Sanford, N.C. : Microfilming Corp. of America, c1979. 181 p.

Socialist Collections in the Tamiment Library, 1872-1956 (Film R-7124)

Collection processed by

Processed by Debra Slotkin Shulman

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 16:48:14 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid written in English

Processing Information

Photographs separated from this collection during processing were established as a separate collection, the Rose Pastor Stokes Photographs (PHOTOS 075). In 2013, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the Rose Pastor Stokes Papers (TAM 053). In 2019, materials were rehoused in new acid-free folders and boxes in preparation for offsite storage.

Revisions to this Guide

March 2019: Updated by Amy C. Vo to reflect container list changes due to rehousing

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from Stokes Guide.doc


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
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