Rose Gollup Cohen (1880-1925) was the author of a 1918 autobiography detailing her childhood in Russia, immigration to the United States, and life on New York City’s Lower East Side entitled Out of the Shadow. Cohen, born on April 4, 1880, became part of the massive immigrant flow of Russian Jews to America due to attacks on Jewish communities. She and her aunt joined her father in New York in 1892. In the United States, she worked, for a brief stint, as a domestic servant, during the summer at a Connecticut retreat for immigrant children, at a cooperative shirtwaist shop, and later as a teaching assistant and the Manhattan Trade School for Girls. She married Joseph Cohen and stopped working when her daughter, Evelyn, was born, though she continued her education, attending classes at Breadwinners’ College at the Educational Alliance and the Rand School.
In addition to her autobiography, Cohen wrote five short pieces published in New York literary magazines between 1918 and 1922. Her writing was received enthusiastically by contemporaries; reviews in The Outlook and the New York Times were glowing. Her short story, Natalka’s Portion, was reprinted six times, including in the prestigious Best Short Stories of 1922. In the summers of 1923 and 1924, Cohen was a Fellow at MacDowell in Peterborough, New Hampshire. The following year, at 45, she tragically passed on. No one knows the cause of her death, but her autobiography survives as Rose Gollup Cohen’s legacy – a moving account of a cultural journey shared with many other Eastern European Jewish immigrant women at the turn of the 20th century.