Golda Meir Collection, 1904-1987


Golda Meir was born in Kiev, Russia on May 3, 1898 to Moshe Yitzhak and Bluma (Neiditch) Mabovitch. Golda was one of eight children, four boys and four girls. Five siblings died in childhood; Golda, Sheyne and Zipka were the only three to survive to adulthood.

In 1903 Golda's father left for the United States; the rest of the family moved to Pinsk to live with Golda's mother's family. Golda's father settled for a while in New York City, but relocated to Milwaukee in 1905 with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

In 1906 the rest of the family came to the United States and settled with Golda's father in Milwaukee. Golda attended the Fourth Street Grade School in Milwaukee and graduated in 1912 and was valedictorian of her class. In the autumn of 1912 she started North Division High School, but because she felt persecuted by her parents' opposition to her going to high school she ran away to Denver to join her sister, who was there taking a cure at a tuberculosis sanatorium. She did not return to Milwaukee until late 1914 or early 1915, at which time she re-entered North Division. She graduated in 1916. In 1916 she entered the Wisconsin State Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) to prepare for a career in teaching. She attended only one year, during which she was vice-president of her class.

In 1917, Golda took a position at a Yiddish-speaking Folks Schule. While at the Folks Schule, she came more closely into contact with the ideals of Labor Zionism. In 1913, she began dating Morris Meyerson; they married on December 24, 1917. She did not Hebraicize her name to Meir until 1956, when she did so at the urging of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion at the time she was appointed Foreign Minister.

Golda was a committed Labor Zionist, and Morris was a dedicated socialist. Together, they left their jobs and moved to Palestine, where they lived at Kibbutz Merhaviah from 1921 to 1923. They later moved to Tel Aviv, where their son Menachem was born in 1924. In 1924 also the family moved to Jerusalem, where her daughter Sarah was born in 1926. Golda gradually became more involved with the Zionist movement. At the end of World War II, she took part in the negotiations with the British that resulted in the creation of the state of Israel.

In 1948 she was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1948 she was appointed Minister to the Soviet Union, a post she held until 1949.

In 1949 she was appointed the first Minister of Labor in the first cabinet of the new state of Israel. She held this post until 1956, when she was appointed Foreign Minister. She held this portfolio until 1965. Among her achievements as Foreign Minister was the establishment of good relations and launching of aid programs for emerging African nations.

In 1965 she became Secretary-General of Mapai, the dominant political party in Israel at the time.

On 26 February 1969, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol died of a heart attack, at which time many members of the Knesset asked Golda to return to politics. She became prime minister of Israel with the Labor Party's support. Meir's greatest crisis came during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. While prime minister, she spent much of her time developing support for Israel by meeting with western leaders. In 1974, the Labor coalition broke up, and Meir left office. She died four years later.