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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1211

Papers of Sylvia S. Seaman, 1918-1997


Drafts of articles and novels by Sylvia S. Seaman.


  • 1918-1997


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Sylvia S. Seaman is held by Elana Seaman, Shira Seaman, and Noah Seaman, represented by literary agents Valerie Borchardt and/or Georges Borchardt, Inc. Upon the death of the last surviving child, copyright will transfer to their heirs, represented by Sophia Bamert. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


3.13 linear feet (7+1/2 file boxes)

The papers of Sylvia S. Seaman contain drafts of articles and novels Seaman wrote under her own name and as Francis Sylvin, in partnership with Frances Schwartz. Most writings are typed and often feature edits, but are largely undated and don't have any publishing information attached to them. Writing topics include breast cancer, student life at Cornell University, travel, and Jewish humor. The collection also includes articles about Seaman, correspondence with publishers, and speeches by Seaman.


Sylvia S. Seaman, daughter of Nathan and Fanny Bleat Bernstein, was born November 8, 1900, in Manhattan, New York. A lifelong feminist, she participated in her first suffrage march in 1915 and frequently participated in women's rights marches throughout the 1970s. Seaman graduated from Cornell University in 1922, then taught English in New York City before embarking on a career as a writer. Her earliest writings were in conjunction with her Cornell University roommate, Frances Schwartz, and appeared under the pseudonym Francis Sylvin. They published several articles and two novels, Rusty Carrousel (1943) and Miracle Father (1952, republished in 1968 as Test-Tube Father). In 1955, she underwent a radical mastectomy, an experience she recounted in magazine and newspaper articles and in her 1965 book, Always a Woman: What Every Woman Should Know About Breast Cancer. In addition to her breast cancer awareness advocacy, Seaman spoke and wrote on issues relating to women's health and sexuality including abortion and lesbianism. In 1979, her last book, How to Be a Jewish Grandmother was published. Seaman married chemist William Seaman in 1925. They had two sons, Jonathan and Gideon, who married women's health advocate Barbara Seaman. Seaman died of breast cancer on January 8, 1995.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 81-M107, D-10, 2022-M59

The papers of Sylvia S. Seaman were given to the Schlesinger Library by Sylvia S. Seaman in 1981 and by her granddaughter, Shira Seaman in March 2022.

Processing Information

Processed: January 2023

By: Johanna Carll

Folder #8.4 was previously cataloged as A/S438.

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Seaman, Sylvia S. Papers of Sylvia S. Seaman, 1918-1997: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Alice Jeannette Ward Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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