Rosenberg, Anna Marie Lederer

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ROSENBERG, ANNA MARIE LEDERER (1902–1983), U.S. assistant secretary of defense; public relations and labor consultant. Born in Budapest, Hungary, the daughter of Albert Lederer and Charlotte Bacskai, Rosenberg moved with her family to New York City in 1912. She married Julius Rosenberg in 1919 and became a naturalized citizen the next year. As she became active in Democratic politics, then New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt sought her advice on labor matters. Rosenberg went on to serve in a number of capacities during the New Deal. She was an assistant to Nathan Straus, Jr., regional director of the National Recovery Administration (nra) and succeeded him when Straus resigned. After Rosenberg served as New York regional director of the Social Security Board, President Roosevelt asked her to study industrial relations in both Great Britain and Sweden. Throughout her work on the Social Security Board, Rosenberg maintained a consulting firm. In 1942 the U.S. House Appropriations Committee investigated allegations of impropriety in holding two positions, but found Rosenberg to be innocent of any wrongdoing. Still, when she accepted the position of director of the War Manpower Commission for New York State that same year, she put her consulting practice in abeyance for the duration of the war. Her work on the War Manpower Commission included recruiting workers of all races to fill some 20,000 positions for the Pacific Coast Kaiser shipyards. As the war was winding down, Roosevelt sent Rosenberg to Europe to investigate what soldiers wanted after the war. Her report that they wanted to improve themselves through education helped lead to the gi Bill of Rights. President Harry S. Truman also called upon her expertise in evaluating the repatriation and demobilization of the troops. When Anna Rosenberg was appointed assistant secretary of defense, the first woman to hold that position, she had to survive a smear campaign claiming that she was a communist, an allegation that was proved false. Rosenberg worked on increasing the number and use of women in the military and she helped draft the Universal Military Service and Training Act. When President Eisenhower replaced her, she returned to decades of consulting work at Anna M. Rosenberg & Associates. Rosenberg received many honors, including the Medal of Freedom in 1945; in 1947 she became the first woman to receive the Medal for Merit. The Department of Defense recognized her with its Exceptional Civilian Award in 1953, and in 1966 she received the Medallion of the City of New York for her beautification efforts. As early as the 1930s, she was known for her philanthropic work, serving on the National Council of Jewish Women, the ort Reconstruction fund, and the women's division of the Joint Distribution Committee of Jewish Charities.


C.L. Thurston. American National Biography (1999); Columbia University houses her oral history.

[Sara Alpern (2nd ed.)]