W

Williamson Mae

Mae Williamson

Mae Williamson, née Kupermann, was born in Imperial Russia on March 24th 1906, the youngest of ten children.

 

Her family fled to the United States to get away from anti-semitic pogroms, settling on a farm then a day’s journey from New York.

 

When she was 16 years old Mae left the farm to train as a kindergarten school teacher. A rebel from a young age, she soon rejected her family’s faith. Her spirit of adventure and sense of independence led her to hitch-hike across the United States in 1925, an extraordinary thing to do at this stage in US development, although she made the trip in the company of another young woman.

 

Mae joined the Communist Party of the United States of America the following year and spent a long time in the Soviet Union over the next decade, where she met Scottish-born John Williamson (see separate entry) in 1935. They married and had two children, Bob and Neil, which resulted in Mae’s political work diminishing as she cared for the family,

 

Mae’s brother, Zie Kupermann, was killed at Jarama in the Spanish Civil War.  She accompanied her husband, John, when he was forced to leave

the USA and return to Britain in 1948 due to cold war hostility in the US. Having been arrested by the US authorities, he was released and then released before being sentenced to five years jail and, after a sustained campaign for his release, then being deported due to his Scottish birth. 

 

With Johnny becoming the librarian of Marx House, Mae threw her energies into helping the library establish a significant collection of American labour movement materials.

 

Mae Williamson died on November 8th 1997.

 

Source: Morning Star 12 November 1997; Morning Star 13th November 1997