Emma Goldman – Lithuania-Russia-USA (1869 – 1940)

Linked with the Jewish Women’s Archive JWA.

Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing, and speeches. She was lionized as a free-thinking “rebel woman” by admirers, and derided as an advocate of politically motivated murder and violent revolution by her critics. Born in Kaunas, Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire), to an Orthodox Jewish family, Goldman suffered from a violent relationship with her father. Although she attended schools in Königsberg, her father refused to allow her further education when the family moved to Saint Petersburg. Still, she read voraciously and educated herself about the politics of her time. She moved with her sister Helena to Rochester, New York, in the United States at the age of sixteen. Married briefly in 1887, she divorced her husband and moved to New York City. Attracted to anarchism after the Haymarket affair, Goldman was trained by Johann Most in public speaking and became a renowned lecturer, attracting crowds of thousands. The writer and anarchist Alexander Berkman became her lover, lifelong intimate friend, and comrade. Together they planned to assassinate Henry Clay Frick as an act of propaganda of the deed. Though Frick survived the attempt on his life, Berkman was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. Goldman herself was imprisoned several times in the years that followed, for “inciting to riot” and illegally distributing information about birth control. In 1906, Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth … (full huge long text).

She said: If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution” … (on wikipedia/Legacy/picture script); … and: “I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things” … (in jwa.org); … and: “The free expression of the hopes and aspirations of a people is the greatest and only safety in a sane society” … (in all posters.com).


Emma Goldman (ca. 1910) – Lithuania-Russia-USA (1869 – 1940)

The Emma Goldman Exhibit: Women of Valor.

… She dreamed of a communistic society where everybody contributes according to ability and takes according to need. During World War I she was arrested because of organizing an anti-draft campaign. In 1919 she was deported back to Russia with other anarchists. Even being first a supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution, she became fast disillusioned with the oppression of free speech and the party rule. Her, in 1923 published book “My Disillusionment with Russia” was one of the first real critiques of the Soviet System. She left Russia and spent the rest of her life in Canada and Europe. She died on May 14th 1940 … (full text).

Her book: My Disillusionment in Russia, 1923.

… She was educated in East Prussia and in St. Petersburg, where she moved with her family in 1881, months after the assassination of Czar Alexander II. Goldman lived in a world ruled by fear and the ubiquitous secret police, a world in which even the mildest expression of dissent would be summarily crushed. As a teenager, she began to embrace the ideas of the Russian revolutionary movement. The movement imagined a society of free equals, a tantalizing Utopia in which all problems could be solved on earth, by ordinary people. Its proponents were committed to removing a Czarist regime at any cost … (pbs.org).

“Union Square is Not For Sale” Declare Activists, June 7, 2008.

Some of her bios and other descriptions: 1934; 1917; 1890; known as The Red Emma; her big portrait.

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution.” At some point in the 1970s, it seemed like every third person I knew had a poster emblazoned with these words. Attributed to the early 20th-century anarchist, Emma Goldman, the sentiments captured the exuberance of some of that era’s lesbians and gay men. ( As it turned out, Goldman never said this, but that’s a whole other history tale. ) In discos, at women’s music festivals, on college campuses, and at street fairs, queer folk looked as if we were dancing our way to freedom. Unlike the dour images of men storming the citadels of power, the gay revolution was going to be fun … (full text).

Find her and her publications on wikipedia/works; on gutenberg; on the Emma Goldman Papers; on a guide to her life and her documentary sources; on Anarchy Archives; on California State Univ., Stanislaus; on Google Video-search; on inauthor Google-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.


Project Gutenberg;

University of California, Berkeley;

the Anarchy Archives;

Anarchy at the Turn of the Century.

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