Mildred Grossman (1916-1988) was a New York City public school teacher, civil rights
activist, unionist, and an award-winning photographer. She is well-known for her documentary
photography, association with the Photo League, and involvement with many unions and
activist organizations. She led 32 other teachers in a civil case against the New
York City Public Schools after they were fired for accusations of being Communist
This collection is divided into eight primary series: I. Union Activism, II. Notes
and Correspondence, III. Financial, IV. Medical/Legal, V. Miscellaneous, VI. Diaries/Daybooks,
VII. Personal Photographs, VIII. Ephemera.
Series I. Union Activism
Series II. Correspondence and Notes
Series III. Financial
Series IV. Medical/Legal
Series V. Miscellaneous
Series VI. Diaries and Daybooks
Series VII. Personal Photographs
Series VIII. Ephemera
This collection contains the papers, photographs, books, and ephemera of Mildred Grossman
Berkowitz. The documents span from her high school years in 1929 until seven years
after her death, in 1995. The collection is divided into six series, based both on
type of activity and kind of document. As a general rule, documents within series
have been arranged in date order. The first series, Union Activism, is based on Mildred's
activities with various unions. The bulk of this series is included in the first sub-series,
"Teachers' Union," which includes details about Mildred's tireless efforts to reinstate
thirty-three teachers that had been expelled from the New York City Public School
system in the 1950s due to suspected Communist leanings. The transcript for Diana
Wolman's (one of the teachers) HUAC hearing can be found (in html format) at http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/mccarthy/83869.txt.
Because of the focus of the series on a particular activity, it includes various kinds
of documents, such as correspondence, case files, clippings, and notes. From the beginning
of her work on the case until 1974, when the teachers were finally reinstated, there
is evidence of the close friendships that were built between the people working on
The second sub-series, "Hotel Union," contains photographs and documents relating
to Mildred's work with the Hotel Trade Council for an exhibit called "Portrait of
a Union." The papers include the history of the union until the exhibit, as well as
goals and challenges that still needed to be met by the hotel workers. The photographs
included in this series, which were originally included with the rest of the HTC papers,
are of various workers in the hotel industry. More photographs of the workers are
included in the photography section, but as these were specifically part of the HTC
exhibit, they have been retained in the series. The second series is Notes and Correspondence.
Mildred was a copious note taker, and kept a record of every meeting she attended
(and as a member of the ASMP, the Teachers' Union, the Workman's Circle, and other
numerous groups, there were many meetings that she attended throughout her life).
Particularly prevalent in the notes is information regarding an exhibit depicting
the history of the Hotel Trade Council called "Portrait of a Union." The actual drafts
and photos are in the first series, mentioned above, but all of Mildred's handwritten
notes on the subject are included here.
This series includes the bulk of Mildred's correspondence aside from that dealing
with the Teachers' Union case. It includes professional letters requesting photographs
(for exhibits, publications, etc.), commissions for Mildred's photography skills (from
the Hotel Trades Council and the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union),
various correspondence regarding employment (with Long Island University, Special
Services of Queens, and the NY Public Schools), personal correspondence (of particular
note is Wendell Phillips Dodge, noted explorer), and medical correspondence pertaining
to both Mark and Mildred. A postcard from 1939 indicates Mildred's membership in the
American Labor Party.
The third series, Financial, includes all of Mildred's documents relating to her finances.
As noted above, she was a very careful note-taker, and kept records for just about
everything. Included in the series are receipts and bills for various objects or services
that Mildred used, such as furniture, photography, and electricity, or that she provided,
such as photographs. There are detailed records in Mildred's handwriting of various
transactions throughout the years, as well as her notes regarding how much compensation
she should receive from the state of New York as compensation for the loss of money
while suspended from teaching. Two sub-series are particularly noteworthy. The first,
"German Pension Papers," does not deal with Mildred directly, but rather her husband.
Because Motel Berkowitz had been in a concentration camp during World War II, he was
entitled to reparations from the German government. This series includes some legal
papers (in Polish, German, and English), regarding the reparations, as well as documents
proving Motel's eligibility for the pension plan, verifying his identity and history.
The second sub-series, "Insurance Papers," consists of correspondence between Mildred,
her lawyer Benjamin Zelman (who was also the lawyer on the Teachers' Union case),
and Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. Mildred's insurance policy was for teachers only,
and so the insurance company tried to verify that Mildred was actually teaching. Mildred,
in her inimitable stubborn way, refused to answer the question, resulting in subsequent
lawyer intervention and many letters from the insurance company. All of the correspondence
in the sub-series is included in duplicate.
The fourth series contains both medical and legal documents relating directly to Mildred
or her family. Included in this series are numerous passports for Mildred and Motel,
as well as Mildred's IDs for the NY Department of Social Services and The Cooper Union.
Included with Mark's passports are international certificates of vaccination. In terms
of legal documents, the contents are rather eclectic. Mildred's high school career
is depicted here, with a diploma, a report card, and various awards she received while
in school (from the Little Mothers' League, the Anti-Litter Bureau, the Arista League,
Spanish class, the Service League, Honor Roll distinctions, and a scholarship certificate
from The City College of New York). Various other legal documents include a certified
copy of a birth certificate, various travel documents, immigration documents for Mildred's
parents and husband, and a teaching certificate. Also included are a draft and an
actual contract for Mildred's work with the Hotel and Club Employees Union Local 6.
The medical documents in the collection relate to both Mildred and Motel, including
a notification of Mildred's death from the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York.
It also includes membership information in The Workman's Circle's insurance plan.
Funeral papers seemed appropriate to include with medical papers, and so the series
also includes information about the burial and perpetual for by Motel. Included as
well is a series of drafts for a eulogy delivered at Mildred's funeral, and an envelope
with Mildred's gravesite address that included pictures of his late wife. Series V
includes a mix of documents that do not fit into one of the above series. Included
is Mildred's yearbook, "The Lexicon," from the School of Business and Civil Administration
of the College of the City of New York, a number of address books, various awards
and honors received by Mildred Grossman, for photography, alcoholism recovery training,
and the Teachers' Union case. (Mildred did receive a certificate from the National
Urban League, which was not included in this series, as it was considered an attachment
to a letter, and so was included with general correspondence. Also included are clippings
and printed materials regarding Mildred's various projects, often including Mildred's
photographs, regarding the Hotel Workers Union, The Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers
International Union, and the Teachers Union. Published materials that were retained
with the collection, such as books regarding legalities of teachers and teaching in
New York are included here. Other publications retained in the collection a magazine
called "Friday" from January 1941, "There Are Men Inside: A presentation by Oil, Chemical
and Atomic Workers International Union," and "Hotel and Club Voice" (November 1963),
all of which contain images photographed by Mildred. Other miscellanea are various
membership cards and photographic (unmailed) postcards belonging to Mildred Grossman,
exhibition catalogs, a press release regarding an exhibit and some of Mildred's applications
for various exhibitions. A final sub-series within the Miscellaneous is not at all
connected with Mildred or her various projects. This sub-series contains extensive
information on the Gizela and Rafael Federmans, Motel's sister and brother-in-law,
who came to the United States after World War II. The sub-series contains miscellaneous
photographs, various Yiddish publications by Rafael regarding the Jewish Labor Bund,
immigration and death certificates, and a will for Rafael Federman, written in Yiddish.
The sixth series, Diaries/Daybooks, quite possibly contains the materials for a researcher
to see Mildred as she lived her daily life. This includes Mildred's planners, daybooks,
and diaries, spanning about forty years of her life. The earliest book included here
is a diary from 1950 recording one of her trips abroad with fascinating details of
some of the people that she met. Eleven daybooks, from 1959-1969, list Mildred's day-to-day
events and appointments. Papers that had been inserted into the daybooks were sometimes
kept and sometimes removed to other folders, depending on appropriateness. Some, such
as photo lists, miscellaneous notes, Peanuts comic strip clippings (1964, 1966), and
a list of birthdays and anniversaries (1966) have been left in the books for context.
Correspondence, ID cards, and receipts, however, have been removed to their respective
folders. The back of the daybooks include a "cash account" section, which Mildred
used to list monthly transactions. The four daily planners (1976-1977, 1979, 1981)
include similar information as the daybooks, albeit in less detail.
The seventh series contains Mildred Grossman's personal photos, including six photo
albums as well as loose photographs. This series also includes photographs taken by
photographers other than Mildred (generally personal photos). Her professional photos
have been removed to the UMBC photography collection. The eighth series contains items
of ephemera: Six stamps belonging to Mildred that were used for labeling her photographs,
and her Leica "flash unit" in a box.
PHMS 2002-23, 2003-01; This collection was donated by Mark Berkowitz, and arrived
in two accessions. The first, consisting of Mildred's photos, included two loose-leaf
binders contained 120 photographs, as well as silver prints and negatives. This came
from the house of Mark Berkowitz on 12/15/89. The second accession came from Minerva
Contreras on 12/17/02, and included the Mildred Grossman Archive, as well as a total
of 5810 items in a combination of photographs and negatives.
Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, Local 6 Photographs;
PHOTOS 098; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
Farmers Union Central Exchange Records. Minnesota Historical Society. Contains photographs
by Mildred Grossman.
The collection was processed by Michelle Margolis under the supervision of Marcia
Frank Peri and completed in May 2006. The collection arrived in a generally good condition,
in regular boxes, for both accessions. The contents were wrapped in brown paper in
the first accession.
For the sake of preservation, acid-damaged papers were copied onto acid-free paper,
and the original papers were retained. There were four folders in the collection that
had been labeled by Mildred, but only one ("Press and Pressure") was retained with
the original title, as the other folders did not seem to have any unifying factors,
nor were the titles appropriate to the contents. Of the remaining folders, "Currin"
was renamed "Insurance Papers," and "My Mistakes" and "Book Prints" were included
with the Hotel Union Papers. Staples and paper clips were removed from the documents,
and envelopes were generally discarded (except in one case, where the decoration,
hand-drawn on the actual envelope was quite unique) unless it was needed for identification
of a date of correspondence. One envelope, left unopened when the collection was received,
has remained unopened. In the case of multiple copies of any documents, only two were
A number of books not directly related to Mildred or the collection have been removed
from the collection, to be placed in stacks. A list of those books follows the processing
notes. Although there is a folder for Awards and Honors, the certificate from the
National Urban League has been included in the Correspondence and Notes, as it is
actually an enclosure to a letter. The professional photographs and negatives included
in the collection have been removed to the UMBC Photography collection, and are unprocessed
as of May 23, 2006. Due to the relatively small size of the collection, the correspondence
and other dated documents have been arranged in simple date order.
Describing Archives: a Content Standard (DACS)
Archives Processing Manual: Description (2015): The processing manual used in Special Collections for all descriptive platforms, including
Finding aid available.
Finding Aid: http://library.umbc.edu/speccoll/findingaids/coll006.php
Reproductions allowed for research purposes. Copyright maintained by the creator.
Grossman, Mildred, 1916-1988
Grossman, Mildred, 1916-1988 -- Archives
Teachers' Union of the City of New York
New York Hotel Trades Council
Labor unions -- New York (State) -- New York
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Reparations
Political activists -- New York (State) -- New York
Date: 1959-1974; bulk 1959, 1967-1974
Extent: 9 folders (375 items)
Mildred's correspondence, notes, case files, and newspaper clippings from the
Teachers' Union trial from 1967-1974, as well as outlines, drafts, and photos, for
an exhibit for the Hotel Trades Council's exhibit: "Portrait of a Union" in 1959,
have been divided into two sub-series, Teachers' Union and Hotel Union.
Date: 1967-1974; bulk 1973-1974
Extent: 8 folders (330 items)
This sub-series includes correspondence, case files, and newspaper articles,
in order by type of document, then date order, as well as Mildred's notes pertaining
to the Teachers' Union case.
Extent: 1 folders
This sub-series contains outlines, drafts, and photographs relating to an exhibit
for the Hotel Trades Council's exhibit: "Portrait of a Union."
Date: 1939-1992; bulk 1957-1972
Extent: 3 folders (125 items)
This series contains all of Mildred's correspondence and notes not related to
the Teachers' Union case. It is divided into two sub-series: Correspondence and Notes
Date: 1939-1992; bulk 1957-1972
Extent: 2 folders
This sub-series contains all of Mildred's correspondence not relating to the
Teacher's Union case. It is arranged in date order
This sub-series includes all of Mildred's notes not relating to the Teachers'
Extent: 6 folders (125 items)
This series includes all of Mildred's financial documents. It is divided into
six series: Receipts/Bills, Check Registers, Taxes, German Pension Papers, Insurance
Papers, and Financial Miscellaneous.
Date: 1954-1987; bulk 1965-1966, 1973-1979
This sub-series includes receipts and bills. They are arranged in date order.
This series includes the check registers from the end of Mildred's life. They
are placed in rough date order.
Date: 1954-1988; bulk 1954-1955, 1973-1975, 1986-1988
This series includes Mildred's tax forms and tax information. It is arranged
in date order.
Date: 1949-1995; bulk 1949-1960
This series is arranged in date order.
The series is arranged in date order
This series contains miscellaneous documents relating to Mildred's finances.
Included is information about her rent, teacher retirement, and a handwritten list
of bank accounts and their contents.
Extent: 5 folders (100 items)
This series contains all of Mildred Grossman's legal papers and items not related
to the Teachers' Union case, as well as medical and funeral papers. It is divided
into five sub-series: Passports/IDs, Legal Papers, Contracts, Medical Papers, and
Date: 1929-1988; bulk 1929-1950, 1974
This sub-series includes all kinds of legal documents and related materials
for Mildred Grossman. They have been arranged in date order.
This sub-series contains a draft and an actual contract for Mildred's work with
the Hotel and Club Employees Union Local 6.
This sub-series is arranged in date order.
Date: 1977-1991; bulk 1978-1980, 1988
Date: 1937-1983; bulk 1953-1974
Extent: 10 folders (150 items)
This series includes all of Mildred's miscellaneous documents and objects. The
series was divided into seven sub-series: Yearbooks, Address Books, Awards and Honors,
Clippings/Printed Materials, Membership Cards/Postcards, Exhibition Catalogs/Memorabilia,
and Federman Papers
This sub-series contains various kinds of address books and lists of addresses.
Date: 1962-1973; bulk 1962, 1971, 1973
Date: 1953-1974, undated
Extent: 3 folders
This series has been arranged in rough date order.
Date: 1939-1983; bulk 1940-1972
Extent: 16 items
Extent: 275 items
Extent: 7 items