Emma Goldman (1869-1940)

Goldman's Work

Goldman was a critic of the mandatory conscription of young men into the first World War, which led to her two years of imprisonment. Goldman was deported to Russia in 1919, where she lived until her death in 1940. She continued during her exile to be a part of the social and political movement. Goldman tried to exercise the right to freedom of speech in America. This was significant. She was frequently harassed or arrested when lecturing about workers rights and women's rights. She worked with the first Free Speech League, which believed that all Americans have the basic right to speak freely.

Goldman earned herself the title “Red Emma” for advocating for unpopular ideas and causes such as free love, anarchism, and atheism. Many powerful people feared her due to her anarchist actions. Goldman first became convinced that birth control was essential to women's sexual and economic freedom when she worked as a nurse and midwife among poor immigrant workers on the Lower East Side in the 1890s. While Goldman worked as a midwife, she saw how these women were mistreated and often ill with venereal diseases, caused by the abuse of men.

In 1915, she was working with Margaret Sanger in a mass movement for birth control, lecturing frequently on "the right of the child not to be born" and demanding that women's bodies be freed from the coercion of government. Eventually, Goldman co-founded the radical journal “Mother Earth.”