Sarah Rubin, later Carneson was born in 1916. Carneson’s parents were founder members of South African Communist Party (SACP) and in 1931 at age 15, Carneson joined the Young Communist League and by 1934 she was a member of the SACP. She taught workers to read and write at the SACP's night school.
In 1938 Carneson began working for the National Union of Distributive Workers and also became the secretary of the Tobacco Workers' Union, but in 1954 she was banned and could no longer hold office in any union. In 1960 she went underground.
In 1967 Carneson was imprisoned for breaching her banning order, and shortly after her release she went into exile (1968) so that she could work for the Trade Union Movement.
She was married to Fred Carneson (also a staunch member of the Communist party from 1936) and the pair had three children; Lynn, John and Ruth. The couple returned to South Africa in 1991 and settled in Cape Town and Fred became a local councilor and the Treasurer of the SACP in the province.