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Mildred Grossman

Mildred Grossman, Teachers Union Photographer
Mildred Grossman
Photo by Sam Reiss

A teacher of accounting and business at Central Commercial High School, Mildred Grossman was the staff photographer for the Teachers Union newspaper, Teacher News. She photographed the annual Teachers Union Educational Conferences at the Waldorf-Astoria and Academic Freedom rallies around New York. Her camera captured invited speakers like playwright Arthur Miller, (The Crucible) blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and recipients (educator/activist, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and actor/activist Paul Robeson) of the TU's Award for Distinguished Service in the Cause of Education for Peace and Freedom.

Mildred covered the action when teachers marched in Albany for salary increases, protests in Washington for allied unions, and picket lines in NYC protesting unfair labor practices such as the Timone Resolution, which targeted both the TU and individual teachers for their personal political beliefs.

Her bravery factored into her own defense when she too became a target of assistant corporation counsel Saul Moskoff's interrogations. After twelve years as a teacher, the Board of Education determined that Grossman had not satisfactorily severed her ties to the CP, and she was dismissed in April 1954 for “Insubordination and conduct unbecoming a teacher. ”

Despite that loss, she continued to work as a photographer, traveling globally, documenting union struggles, individual struggles, and the lives of the disenfranchised across our country.

In 1955, Mildred's work was featured in the historic Edward Steichen-curated exhibit, Family of Man, at the Museum of Modern Art. It depicted the universality of the human experience around the world for which poet Carl Sandburg wrote the introduction to the book of the same name. It sold 400 million copies. Mildred was among the 273 photographers in the collection culled from over two million photographer submissions. The exhibit is now on permanent display in Luxembourg.

The posthumously published Eye of the Storm: Photographs by Mildred Grossman (1999) Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County catalogues her photographs and life as an educator, photographer, and civil rights activist.

Click on a thumbnail to view the larger image below.


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Photos: UFT - Mildred Grossman Collection,
Tamiment Library's Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives



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