Lina Gutherz Straus (1854-1930)
Lina Gutherz Straus (1854-1930) was the wife of Nathan Straus and his true partner, who championed his life's work, supported him through his bouts of depression and showed a strength that was not generally evident in women of the time.
In 1892, Lina’s husband Nathan Straus became interested in learning how to produce clean milk. He started exploring how to produce what he called pasteurized milk. Nathan hired doctors and scientists to learn the process and then built the first Nathan Straus Pasteurized Milk Laboratory on East 32nd Street in New York City. Once the formula and process was perfected, he created milk depots around New York City to distribute this low cost healthy product. And then, for the rest of his life, Nathan Straus, supported and accompanied by his wife Lina, traveled the world, offering to build a milk pasteurizing laboratory for any municipality that would send professionals to learn the process. In 1917 Lina wrote Disease in Milk: The Remedy Pasteurization: The Life Work of Nathan Straus, a loving tribute to her husband. This book describes in minute detail the process of pasteurization and the distribution of pasteurized milk. Testimonials from prominent medical and scientific personnel, as well as government officials and philanthropists, are included.
Nathan and Lina Straus first traveled to Palestine in 1904 where they were disturbed by the poverty of the people and the unhealthy conditions in which they lived. The Strauses became Zionists, believing in a Jewish national homeland. Much of their philanthropy from this point onward was directed toward Palestine. Lina donated all of her jewelry to Hadassah to be used to erect a health center in Jerusalem. In 1929 Nathan and Lina donated $50,000 for the endowment of a fund to aid in the repair and maintenance of the Health Center in Jerusalem. Lina and Nathan supported soup kitchens for more than twenty years. They supported stations where people could learn a skill and prepare for employment and they generously donated to charitable organizations that provided services to the people.
Nathan Straus' concern for the condition of his fellow man and his remarkable efforts to ameliorate suffering are clear. What is unusual is that his wife Lina was at his side and an active participant in all his endeavors. This was a time when women rarely worked outside the home, especially married women with children. And it was a time when wives were generally not involved in their husband's activities. For Lina to be at Nathan's side, and to support his efforts on so many fronts, speaks volumes for this diminutive Victorian era woman. Among her papers Lina left a Living Will: "Whatever happiness life has brought me, has been through Papas and your own limitless devotion - our in-laws the same as those of our own blood. - I feel grateful for all this and bless you for it to my last breath. - I don't speak of our grandchildren - You know the joy they have brought into our lives. - I only add my prayers for your precious health. - I know you will under all circumstances keep up the family tradition in our branch - of unity and mutual devotion - and not permit anything to interfere with it. - I have nothing further to wish for when my time of parting comes. God bless you and guard you all the days of your lives! Mamma.”
“Nathan Straus 1848-1931” Straus Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 6 No. 1 (New York: February 1998); pp. 4-8.
“Nathan Straus 1848-1931” Straus Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 6 No. 2 (New York: August 1998); pp. 4-7.
“Lina Gutherz Straus” Straus Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 16 No. 2 (New York: February 2015); pp. 1-5.http://www.straushistoricalsociety.org/uploads/1/1/8/1/11810298/newsletter_february_2015.pdf
Source: The Straus Historical Society