Thursday, March 15, 2018

For The Mothers And Their Children

Sophie Irene Simon Loeb had no children of her own, but she dedicated her life to fighting for government support for widowed mothers. Her passionate campaign, which started after she did an investigative piece for The New York Evening World about mothers placing their children in orphanages, was one that touched close to her own childhood.

Born in Rovno, Ukraine, on July 4, 1876, Loeb came to the United States when she was six. Her family settled in Mckeesport, Pennsylvania, where there was a thriving Jewish community. When Loeb was 16, her father passed away. While her mother insisted that she finish school, Loeb took an evening job in a local store to help her mother and five younger siblings. After graduation, Loeb began teaching but left the position to marry her former employer, storekeeper Ansel Loeb, in 1896. As married women were not permitted to teach in Mckeesport, Loeb began writing. Her articles on local issues caught the attention of larger papers, such as The World, which hired her after she and her husband divorced and she moved to New York in 1910.

Loeb’s writing brought more and more attention to the cause of widowed mothers. In 1914, she traveled throughout Europe examining their social service systems and the next year, the New York State Board of Child Welfare was established. Loeb was its president for eight years, during which time the available funds to aid mothers and children grew steadily. In 1924, four years after publishing a book called Everyman’s Child, she helped create the Child Welfare Committee of America. Making her living primarily with her pen, Loeb was also a sought after speaker - she addressed the League of Nations about blind children in 1926 - and served as a mediator - she ended a 1917 taxi strike in only seven hours. After visiting the Land of Israel in 1925, Loeb also became a Zionist and published Palestine Awaken: The Rebirth of a Nation in 1926.

Sadly, Sophie Loeb passed away in January 1929, a 53 year old victim of cancer.

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