The Margaret Sanger Papers


Marot, Helen (1865-1940)

Labor reformer, writer and editor. Born to family of Philadelphia Quakers, Marot started as a librarian. After organizing a small library on social and economic issues, she published a Handbook of Labor Literature (1899). She also became an investigator for the United States Industrial Commission looking into the Philadelphia tailoring trades, where she was assisted by Caroline Pratt, a progressive educator who became Marot's life companion. Shocked by what she found in her investigation, Marot became a labor activist. In 1902 she began an investigation into child labor in New York which led to the formation of the New York Child Labor Commission. The Commission's report, written by Marot, Florence Kelly and Josephine Goldmark, led to the enactment of New York State's 1903 Compulsory Education Act. From 1906 to 1913 Marot became executive secretary of the New York Women's Trade Union League. Under her leadership the League helped lead the 1909-10 dressmaker's strike which helped launch the international Ladies Garment Workers' Union. In this period, Marot again worked with Kelly, Goldmark and Pauline Goldmark of the National Consumers' League in conducting research for the "Brandeis brief" which was used in the Supreme Court's 1908 Muller v. Oregon decision, which upheld the law limiting the hours of women workers. In 1914, Marot--a committed socialist--published American Trade Unions, which supported the work of the Industrial Workers of the World. In 1916, she began serving on the editorial staff of The Masses; after that journal was suppressed in 1917 she joined the staff of The Dial . With her companion, Caroline Pratt, Marot took care of Margaret Sanger's three children after the latter's 1914 flight to Europe; she also contributed to William Sanger's defense fund when he was arrested for distributing Family Limitation.
References: Sol Cohen, "Helen Marot," Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Edward T. James (1971).