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Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz Papers, 1956-2006
13 boxes (19.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 520

Abstract:
Lesbian activists; Teacher, Health and Physical Education; Professor; Counselor. The Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz Papers include personal correspondence and emails, scrapbooks, photographs, and files related to gay and lesbian rights, same-sex marriage, and women's rights. The collection also includes audiovisual materials, production notes, and public relations materials pertaining to the documentary about the couple: Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House (2002).

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Access to audiovisual materials may first require production of research copies.

This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.

Restrictions on use:

The material in this collection may be protected by copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights for permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Permission must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note
Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz with their daughters, n.d.

Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz with their daughters, n.d.

Ruth Berman was born in Brooklyn, NY on March 30, 1934 to Jeanette Zahner and Milton Green. She graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1951 and went on to earn her B.S. (1955) and her M.S. (1958) in Health and Physical Education from Brooklyn College. From 1971 to 1974, she was employed as a teacher and administrator at various middle schools and high schools in the New York City area , and at Brooklyn College as adjunct professor.

Constance Kurtz was born July 19, 1936 to Rose Levy and Elias Levy. After graduating from high school, she worked in Brooklyn, NY and in Jerusalem, Israel; her job descriptions have included bookkeeper and election campaign volunteer. Ruthie and Connie met in their Brooklyn neighborhood in the late 1950s and became fast friends; both were in traditional marriages and both had children. In 1970, Connie moved to Israel with her family. When Connie returned to the U.S. for a visit in 1974, she and Berman fell in love and began the challenging process of coming out, divorcing their husbands, and beginning a life together as a lesbian couple. The process propelled them into becoming politically active for gay and lesbian rights, and in 1988 they sued the New York City Board of Education for domestic partner benefits (Berman was a health and physical education teacher at a Brooklyn high school), winning the landmark case in 1994.

Both Berman and Kurtz are certified counselors and in that capacity founded The Answer is Loving Counseling Center, where they have served for over twenty years. They travel widely, offering workshops that focus on skill-building towards a more functional life, including workshops for gays and lesbians and their families. They have started branches of Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Florida and New York. They also run a T-shirt business: Not So Subtle Ts, and they host a web site (ruthieandconnie.com). In 2000, they began serving as co-chairs of the New York State NOW Lesbian Rights Task Force, and they are members of the GLBT synagogue of the Congregation Beth Simchot Torah. Ruthie and Connie have appeared on national radio and television, including The Donohue Show, Geraldo Rivera, Bill Boggs, and WBAI. In 2002, filmmaker Deborah Dickson made a documentary film about Berman and Kurtz, titled Connie and Ruth: Every Room in the House (produced by Donald Goldmacher).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz Papers include personal correspondence and emails (1963-2005), scrapbooks (1980s-2005), photographs (circa 1950s-2000), and materials relating to gay and lesbian rights, same-sex marriage, women's rights, and Berman's and Kurtz's activism with regard to these issues. The collection also includes audiovisual materials, production notes, and public relations materials pertaining to the documentary film about the couple's relationship, Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House (2002). The collection documents their personal lives, first as wives and mothers in traditional marriages and, later, as a lesbian couple and as grandmothers.

[NOTE: The contents list for this collection is not online. Contact the Sophia Smith Collection if you would like one sent to you.]


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Access to audiovisual materials may first require production of research copies.

This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.

Restrictions on use:

The material in this collection may be protected by copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights for permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Permission must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

Additional Formats

Selected videotaped recordings have been copied for research use.

Digital copies are available for select recordings. Please contact us for more information.

History of the Collection

The papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection by Connie Kurtz and Ruth Berman in 2005.

Accruals:

Periodic additions to collection are expected and may not be reflected in this record.

Processing Information

Processed by Burd Schlessinger, 2005.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English


Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Berman, Ruth
  • Domestic partner benefits--New York (State)--New York
  • Gay activists--New York (State)--History--Sources
  • Gay rights--united States--History--Sources
  • Jewish lesbians--Biography--Sources
  • Jewish women--United States--Biography--Sources
  • Kurtz, Connie
  • Lesbian activists--United States--Biography--Sources
  • Lesbian feminism--United States--History--Sources
  • Lesbianism--United States--History--Sources
  • Lesbians--United States--Biography--Sources
  • New York (N.Y.)--History--Sources
  • Ruthie and Connie: every room in the house--Sources

Contributors
  • Dickson, Deborah
  • Goldmacher, Donald
  • Kurtz, Connie


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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