Emma Goldman

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Goldman, Emma,

1869–1940, American anarchist, b. Lithuania. She emigrated to Rochester, N.Y., in 1886 and worked there in clothing factories. After 1889 she was active in the anarchist movement, and her speeches attracted attention throughout the United States. In 1893, Goldman was imprisoned for inciting to riot. From 1906 she was associated with Alexander BerkmanBerkman, Alexander
, 1870–1936, anarchist, b. Vilna (then in Russian Lithuania). He immigrated to the United States c.1887. Angered by the violent suppression of the Homestead, Pa.
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 in publishing the anarchist paper Mother Earth. In 1916 she was imprisoned for publicly advocating birth control, and in 1917 for obstructing the draft. With Berkman, Goldman was deported in 1919 to Russia but left that country in 1921 because of her disagreement with the Bolshevik government. In 1926 she married James Colton, a Welshman. She was permitted to reenter the United States for a lecture tour in 1934 on condition that she refrain from public discussion of politics. She took an active part in the Spanish civil war in 1936. She died in Toronto.


See her Living My Life (1931). Other writings include Anarchism and Other Essays (1911), Social Significance of Modern Drama (1914), and My Disillusionment in Russia (1923). See biographies by R. Drinnon (1961), A. Shulman (1971), C. Falk (1984), A. Wexler (1984 and 1992), and V. Gornick (2011); C. Falk et al., ed., Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years (2003); P. and K. Avrich, Sasha and Emma (2012).

Goldman, Emma (“Red Emma”)

(1869–1940) anarchist, propagandist; born in Kovno, Lithuania. She moved with her family to St. Petersburg, Russia (1882), where she worked in a glove factory and absorbed the prevailing radical-revolutionary ideas. She emigrated to America (1885), worked in a Rochester, N.Y., garment factory, and was briefly married to a fellow worker. Angered by the execution of those connected with the Haymarket bombing in Chicago (1886), she began to identify with anarchists; she moved to New York City, became a disciple of Johann Most, and became intimately involved with the anarchist Alexander Berkman, whom she also assisted in planning his failed assassination of Henry Frick (1892). She was jailed in New York City (1893) for allegedly inciting the unemployed "to riot" and "take bread." On her release, she took up nursing—studying briefly in Vienna (where she attended lectures by Freud)—and in 1896 began working as a nurse and midwife in American urban slums; but increasingly she was away on lecture tours during which she gained even her enemies' respect for her sharp intelligence. Still, when President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, she was jailed for two weeks without any evidence linking her to the deed. With Berkman out of prison in 1906, he and Goldman founded and edited the anarchist monthly Mother Earth (1906–17). Meanwhile she had a new lover, Ben Reitman, who also became her tour manager; her radical speeches continued to draw crowds—and the law; she spent two weeks in jail in 1916 for disseminating birth control information. Then in 1917 she and Berkman were arrested for aiding draft resisters opposed to the U.S. entering the World War; they were sentenced to two years imprisonment; on their release in 1919, they were deported to the Soviet Union. Soon disillusioned with the Bolshevik government, they left and moved about Europe and Canada, finally settling in France; there she finished her autobiography, Living My Life (1931), a powerful testament. She was allowed to return to the U.S.A. in 1934, but only for a three-month lecture tour. With Berkman's death in 1936, she gave the last of her remarkable energies to one more cause—antifascists and the foes of Franco in the Spanish Civil War. She died in exile in Canada.
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