Henrietta Szold

(1860 - 1945)

Henrietta Szold, writer, scholar, teacher, administrator and humanitarian, was the founder and first president of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. Although her major contributions to jewish life as a Zionist were made after she left Maryland, she began her public service activities in Baltimore.

Szold's years in Baltimore were devoted to education.  Following her graduation from the Female Western High School in 1877, she served as acting principal and temporary substitute.  She later taught at Misses Adams School for Girls and Mrs. McCulloch's School at Glencoe, which later became Oldfield's School.

Szold recognized the need to educate the immigrants arriving from eastern and southern Europe.  She decided to urge the Hebrew Literary Society to sponsor a program to teach English to the immigrants.  As a result, the first evening adult classes in Baltimore were established.  This was the beginning of the adult education program in Baltimore public schools.  The program later served as a model for adult education in other cities.  Szold's best-known career began in 1920.  At the age of sixty, she went to Palestine to help revitalize the educational, medical and social services programs.  She also lent her support to the movement of child rescue and youth rehabilitation.  She is credited with the rescue and mothering of thousands of Jewish children.

Following her death in 1945, the State of Israel issued a coin and a stamp in her memory. Szold became the first American and the first woman to be portrayed on Israeli currency. According to Francis Beirne, Szold is "the best-known Jew of Baltimore birth throughout the world at large."

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 1986. 

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2001