Five College Archives and Manuscript
                        Collections
Home >> Sophia Smith Collection >> Finding aid to the Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz papers SSC.MS.00520
Smith College seal
Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz papers, 1956-2018
21 linear feet (13 unspecified boxes (likely record cartons), 2 letter document boxes, 1 flat oversize box) 11 items (11 DVDs, 10 loose and 1 in original packaging)
Collection number: SSC.MS.00520

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). The most recent accession also includes material related to Connie's death and obituary.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Restrictions on use:

To the extent that they own copyright, Berman has assigned the copyright of Berman's works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Berman, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Donald Goldmacher, producer of Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House; the film's original title was"Ruthie and Connie: More Than a Love Story," has retained copyright in perpetuity to all the audiovisual material related to this documentary.

Sophia Smith Collection

Biographical / Historical

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. Connie passed away in June of 2018 after a long battle with cancer.

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

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. Also includes materials related to Connie's death and obituary.

[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:

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Restrictions on use:

To the extent that they own copyright, Berman has assigned the copyright of Berman's works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Berman, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Donald Goldmacher, producer of Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House; the film's original title was"Ruthie and Connie: More Than a Love Story," has retained copyright in perpetuity to all the audiovisual material related to this documentary.

Preferred Citation

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

Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, MS 502, 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, with additions in 2006 and 2018.

Acc: #05S-32 was donated by Donald Goldmacher, producer of Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House; the film's original title was"Ruthie and Connie: More Than a Love Story." There is a separate COG for his accession.

Processing Information

Processed by Burd Schlessinger, 2005.

The 2018 addition has not been processed, in the sense that archival arrangement and description beyond creating minimal box lists has not been done. The arrangement and description of materials may change in the future as iterative processing occurs. Researchers are encouraged to document their citations with this in mind.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request the creation of and access to digital copies.


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
Other Finding Aids

This collection has been received in six separate accessions between 2005 and 2018. Currently, only the most recent of these accessions have an online contents list in the form of this finding aid. The other accessions have container lists that are available upon request by contacting specialcollections@smith.edu


Contents List
2018-S-0077. Berman, Ruth, Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz papers addition

1.5 linear feet(2 letter document boxes, one flat oversize box)

Materials sent by Ruthie Berman after Connie Kurtz's death. Records document the creation of their film, the counseling center (The Answer Is Loving) that they co-directed, support for political work, their lawsuit against the state of New York for domestic partner benefits, awards, and Kurtz's obituary.

Search Terms
Berman, Ruth

Biographical information of Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz
1993-2018
3 folders3 folder (1 in Box 1, 2 in Box 3)
Box 1 Box 3
Connie Kurtz obituaries, articles, and condolences sent to Ruth
2002-2018
1 folders(1 folder)
Box 1 Box 3
Awards given to Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz
1999
1 folders(1 folder)
Box 3
Proclamation from the US House of Representatives honoring Berman, Kurtz, and The Brooklyn AIDS Task Force
2001 April 1
2 items(2 folders)
Box 1
The Answer is Loving Counseling Center newsletters, event fliers, notes, information, and correspondence
1986-2005
3 folders(3 folders)
Box 1 Box 3
Correspondence to and from Berman and Kurtz, including cards, letters, counseling evaluations, and donation appreciation
1983-2004
4 folders(4 folders)
Box 1
"Not So Subtle Tees" mail order forms
ca.approximately 2000
1 folders(1 folder)
Box 1
Domestic partnership lawsuit: Florida
2004
1 folders(1 folder)
Box 2
Domestic partnership lawsuit: New York
1988-2017
3 folders(3 folders)
Box 2
News clippings related to marriage equality and domestic partnerships
1993-2015
1 folders(1 folder)
Box 3
Film, Every Room in the House events, news, background information (formerly Ruth and Connie: More than a Love Story)
1990-2011
4 folders(4 folders)
Box 2 Box 3
2018-S-0087. Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz film and television appearances

11 items(11 DVDs, 10 loose and 1 in original packaging)

Updated version of "Every Room in the House" and recordings of television appearances.

Search Terms
DVD video discs

Video recording, "CNBC News, Point of View: Ruth and Connie"
1989 July
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, "TV New's Clips and In the Life Program: Ruth and Connie"
approximately 1990
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, "Lawyers Live: Same Sex Marriages, Ruth Berman, Connie Kurtz, Paula Ettelbrick, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Robert Peters, Skip Robokoff, Bob Peters and Bob Oeters"
1991 March 5
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, "Night Talk: Ruth and Connie"
1992 May 20
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, "Lavender Health: Ruth and Connie"
1993 November
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, copy DVD, "CNBC News Point of View, TV News, Lawyers Live, Night Talk, Lavender Health"
1989-1993
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, "Geraldo Rivera Show: Ruth and Connie"
(bulk 1991 January 28, February 4)
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, "Phil Donahue Show: Ruth and Connie"
approximately 1990
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, "CLGR"
1991 March 19
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, "Nassau Now Meeting: Ruth and Connie"
1992 June 17
1 items1 DVD (Master DVD, VHS tape to DVD recording)
Box 3
Video recording, "Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House"
2014
1 items(1 DVD)
Box 3

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
  • Dickson, Deborah
  • Domestic partner benefits--New York (State)--New York
  • Gay activists--New York (State)--History--Sources
  • Gay rights--united States--History--Sources
  • Goldmacher, Donald
  • 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 / a film by Deborah Dickson; produced by Donald Goldmacher--Sources
  • Ruthie and Connie: every room in the house--Sources

Genre terms
  • Audiotapes
  • CD-Roms
  • Computer media
  • DVD video discs
  • Notes
  • Publicity
  • clippings
  • correspondence
  • photograph albums
  • photographs
  • scrapbooks


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
Home | Help | About | Search