IZRAEL BLUM (April 11, 1879-December 1932)
Born in Nezhin (Nizhyn), Ukraine, he was brought to the United States in 1887. He lived initially with his parents in New York, later in Philadelphia where he attended public school and while still young began working in a sweatshop. In 1910 he settled in Chicago where he continued to work in a sweatshop at first and subsequently went into business. From his early years, he belonged to the anarchist movement. Under the influence of the American Jewish labor-poets, he began to write poetry which appeared in such publications as Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Obend blat (Evening newspaper), Forverts (Forward), Idisher rekord (Jewish record), and Yidishe arbeter velt (World of Jewish labor), among others. In 1922 a group of his friends published a collection of his poems under the title Grine tsvaygn, gezamlte lider 1904-1914 (Green branches, collected poems, 1904-1914) (Chicago), 83 pp. In Chicago he was known as the “merchant-poet.” During the economic crisis of the late 1920s, he lost his business. After a lengthy illness, he died in Chicago in December 1932.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Pinkes shikago (Records of Chicago) (1952), p. 87; Philip Bregstone, Chicago and Its Jews (Chicago, 1933), p. 353.