This is the first biography of Ellen Dawson (1900-1967), a Scottish woman who participated in three of the largest and most dramatic textile strikes in U.S. history--Passaic, New Jersey; New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Gastonia, North Carolina. She helped organize the National Textile Workers Union and became the first woman elected to a national leadership position in an American textile union.She spent her formative years in the Glasgow area as a young worker during Scotland's most radical period of labor history. With her family she moved first to England and then to the United States in search of economic survival. As a textile worker in Passaic, she became a leader in the communist-inspired strike of 1926. Later a labor activist working with both the American Federation of Labor and the Communist Party, she traveled to the Soviet Union and was elected to the executive committee of the American Communist Party.David McMullen investigates Dawson's background and the events surrounding her life, as well as the events she participated in to understand why she became a leading labor activist. This remarkable biography provides an unrivaled perspective of early American communists during the 1920s and 1930s, one that ignores the distortions so commonly applied during the Cold War.
University Press of Florida
The Radical Insurrections of Ellen Dawson