Lillian Herstein

Lillian Herstein (1886-1983) was born in Chicago to Lithuanian Jewish immigrant parents. She studied at Northwestern University where she earned a degree in Latin and Greek but dreamed of becoming a school teacher. Because of antisemitism within the Chicago public school system, Herstein began her teaching career at small rural schools. Five years later, Herstein returned to Chicago where she first taught at a high school and then taught junior college students.

She became active in the Federation of Women High School Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers, the Women’s Trade Union League and the Jewish Labor Committee and also helped organize the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. She was one of the founders of the Farmer Labor Party, a delegate to the International Labour Organization and the Woman Consultant for the US War Production Board in which she helped women working in war industries during WWII. All the while, she continued teaching in Chicago.

An eloquent speaker and an impressive teacher, Herstein inspired many of her students through the years including Arthur Goldberg who became a labor lawyer prior to being named to the US Supreme Court.

Why this stop? The Pink Line Pulaski stop is one of the L stations that serves Lawndale, the Chicago neighborhood where Herstein grew up.

Consider — Lillian Herstein was able to go to college—a privilege that most women of her time (especially daughters of immigrants) did not enjoy. She used that privilege to help, inspire, organize and encourage thousands of people in her roles as teacher and labor organizer. What is one privilege you have been given? How can you use that privilege to help/serve/inspire/etc. others? Give that some thought…