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A Legacy of Hope: Mae Millstone's Story

Posted on: Thursday, November 5, 2009

Keywords: Member Profile, Planned Giving

Mae Millstone: A Commitment to Workers, Women and Wisdom

Mae at the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY in 2004For Mae Millstone, there was no one issue. Rather than commit her life to the advancement of rights in any narrow sense, Mae sought ways to promote a full range of human rights for everyone.

The daughter of a union activist in Philadelphia, Mae began her work on labor rights at the age of 21, when she became a special investigator on working conditions of women and children with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. In 1935 she began working on the National Health survey, training canvassers in California, Washington and Utah to collect information on health issues, including diseases caused by unsafe working conditions. When Mae’s work brought her to Detroit, she met and married union organizer Harry Millstone, and together they worked to promote labor rights for over six decades.

But Mae’s activism did not stop there. As dedicated as she was to workers’ rights, Mae saw them as one facet of her quest for social justice. In the 1960s, Mae took part in the civil rights, anti-war and women’s movements, and in the next three decades her activism took many forms—from registering voters in underserved communities to escorting women to abortion clinics to holding peace vigils in opposition to the war in Iraq.

Mae at age 93Mae was an ardent supporter of women’s human rights, and she worked closely with several women’s groups. She often encouraged young women to run for office, believing that assuming positions of power was the best way to make their voices heard. She also urged feminists in the US to support women’s efforts abroad, seeing the linkages between grassroots work being done by women’s organizations worldwide.

Mae Millstone was a tireless defender of human rights who remained an active champion of social justice until the age of 95. With future activists in mind, Mae arranged to have support sent to MADRE upon her passing in early 2009. Mae’s commitment to human rights and vision of a just world will live on in the people whose lives she touched.

Even with limited resources, you have the capacity to plan for a lasting impact.  

To learn how you can create your own Legacy of Hope,
call us at 212-627-0444 or visit


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