Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Eva McDonald Valesh 1866 ~ 1956

 


Eva McDonald Valesh

Born of Scotch-Irish parentage, in Orono, Maine; September 9, 1866; Mrs. Valesh's interest in the welfare of working women sprang from her own experience. After leaving school she learned the printer's trade, and here she had supplied to her object lessons to prepare her for the work before her. She was employed on the Spectator, and in due time she became a member of the Typographical Union, and by a chance recommendation from the district master workman of the Knights of Labor of Minnesota, she secured a position on a newspaper and began the writing and working which was to occupy the rest of her life.

A shop girl's strike was in progress, and many of the girls who were engaged in making overalls, coarse shirts, and similar articles, applied to the Ladies' Protective Assembly, Knights of Labor, into which Miss McDonald had been initiated but a short time. So, while not personally interested in the strike; she attended all the meetings of the strikers and repeatedly addressed them urging the girls to stand firm for wages which would enable them to live decently. This strike was only partially successful, but it opened an avenue for the talent of the young agitator.

In March, 1887, she began a series of letters on "Working Women" for the St. Paul Globe, which were continued for nearly a year and attracted wide attention. She began to make public speeches on the labor question, about that time making her maiden effort in Duluth, 1887, when not quite twenty-one years of age. After the articles on the "Working Women of Minneapolis and St Paul" ceased she conducted the labor department of the Globe, besides doing other special newspaper work. She continued her public addresses, and was a member of the executive committee that conducted the street car strike in Minneapolis and St. Paul in 1888, and subsequently wrote the history of the strike and published it under the title of "The Tale of Twin Cities."

During the political campaign of 1890 she lectured to the farmers under the auspices of the Minnesota Farmers' Alliance, and she was elected state lecturer of this society on the first of January, 1891, going on the 28th of the same month to Omaha, where she was elected assistant national lecturer of the Minnesota Farmers' Alliance. Her marriage to Mr. Frank Valesh, a labor leader, occurred in 1891.

During later years Mrs. Valesh had turned her attention more especially to the educational side of the industrial question, lecturing throughout the country for the principles of the Farmers' Alliance and in the city for trade unions. By invitation of President Samuel Gompers, she read a paper on "Women's Work;" in the National Convention of the American Federation of Labor, in Birmingham, Alabama, December, 1891, and was strongly recommended by that assembly for the position of general organizer among the working women.

Her strong, sane point of view has been kept before the public through her editorship of an industrial department for the Minneapolis Tribune, and through her occasional magazine contributions on industrial matters.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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