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COLLECTION Identifier: 2012-M90

Papers of Gertrude J. Berman, 1919-1987 (inclusive), 1919-1976 (bulk)


Correspondence, diaries, photographs, etc., of Gertrude J. Berman, actress, writer, and businesswoman.


  • 1919-1987
  • Majority of material found within 1919-1976

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted, with the exception of materials in box 5, which are closed until photocopied.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Gertrude J. Berman is held by Alyssa B. Levy and M.J. Levy Dickson and their permission to quote from the collection must be sought by researchers. Upon the death of the last surviving sister, copyright is transferred and assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College along with all right, title and interest, including copyright and all extensions and renewals thereof, in and to the work. 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.


3.63 linear feet ((3 cartons, 1 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 oversize folder, 1 photograph folder, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 folio+ photograph folder)

The collection includes diaries, correspondence, photographs, radio scripts, etc., documenting Berman's careers as an actress, writer, and businesswoman. Photographs include portraits and snapshots of Berman, as well as stills from silent films she appeared in and from productions of plays she wrote. Radio scripts are mostly of "Skinny and His Gang," a children's radio program Berman wrote and acted aimed at teaching children about well-known historical and contemporary individuals. Most materials arrived at the library unfoldered and in no discernable order; the archivist created folder titles for those files. A small number of files were foldered and those titles have been preserved and appear in quotation marks. Files were arranged alphabetically by the archivist.


Gertrude J. Berman, daughter of Leah Zeman (1873-1962) and Wolfe Wigransky (1864-1929), was born December 6, 1898, in Meridian, Mississippi. Under the stage name Jessica Lee, Berman performed in silent movies and wrote and performed many dramatic sketches and plays. In the 1920s, she wrote and performed her own children's radio program, "Skinny and His Gang," for WTIC Radio in Hartford, Connecticut. She wrote the play, Empress of Destiny, which was performed on Broadway in 1939. In 1919, she married Aaron Berman (1891-1939); they had two daughters, Diane Berman Hoffman and Barbara Berman Levy. Following her husband's death in 1939, Berman took over as president of his loan and real estate business, House of Finance, in Hartford, Connecticut. She died September 2, 1976, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2012-M90

The papers of Gertrude J. Berman were given to the Schlesinger Library by Alyssa B. Levy, Diane Hoffman, M.J. Levy Dickson, Ms. Aaron B.D. Millhiser, and Graham W. Dickson in June 2012.

Processing Information

Container list: June 2012

By: Johanna Carll

Berman, Gertrude J., 1898-1976. Papers of Gertrude J. Berman, 1919-1987 (inclusive), 1919-1976 (bulk): A Container List
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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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