The Margaret Sanger Papers


Stokes, Rose Pastor (1879-1933)

Social worker. Married James G. Phelps Stokes (1905); divorced 1925; married Isaac Romaine (1927) Born in Russian Poland to Jewish parents, Rose Pastor and her family emigrated to England when she was three and then in 1890 to the United States. Settling in Cleveland, the family eked out a living with Rose and her six younger siblings employed as cigar makers. Interested in writing she began submitting poems to the local papers and in 1903, after moving to New York, became an assistant editor for the Yiddish-language New York Jewish Daily News, writing an advice column for young women. One of her other assignments was to interview James G. Phelps Stokes, the wealthy scion of a prominent New York family who was active in the University Settlement. The two went on to marry and Rose joined her husband in the work of the settlements and the Socialist Party. Rose Stokes lectured widely for the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, became active in radical labor actions, contributed articles to The Masses, The Independent, and The Century. A birth control advocate, she lectured in support of Margaret Sanger's work and in 1917 became a member of the Committee of 100 set up to provide support for Sanger during her Brownsville clinic trial. Rose and James Stokes resigned from the Socialist Party in 1917 over its denouncement of US entry into World War I, though Rose returned to the Party after the Russian Revolution. In 1918 she was indicted under the Espionage Act, convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison for publishing a letter denouncing the government, though her conviction was reversed on appeal in 1920. She later allied herself with the Communist Party spending years lecturing, writing and participating in various strikes and other labor actions. Stokes authored a play, The Woman Who Wouldn't (1916) and co-edited Songs of Labor (1914).
References: Mari Jo Buhle, Women and American Socialism, 1870-1920 (1983); Zechariah Chafee, Jr., Free Speech in the U.S. (1941) (Martha Foley, "Stokes, Rose," Encyclopedia of New York City, p. 1126; David A. Shannon, "Rose Pastor Stokes," Notable American Women (1971), III, pp. 384-385