Series I: Brenda Berkman Papers, 1957-2016, inclusive
Language of Materials
Scope and Content Note
This series dates from 1957 to 2016 and includes biographical material about Brenda Berkman, clippings related to her career, correspondence from her legal practice, and scrapbooks, primarily dealing with the case Berkman v. City of New York. The series also contains materials related to Berkman's advocacy on behalf of women firefighters, including recruitment correspondence, training documents for the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), handbooks, manuals, and ephemera from conferences and public events about women in male-dominated professions. Additionally, there are awards, videos, interviews, and clippings documenting Berkman's career achievements as well as correspondence and letters of support following the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks.
Materials added to this series in 2017 include additional ephemera, photos, flyers, and organizing materials related to Berkman's advocacy for women firefighters and 9/11 first responders. They include flyers, programs, transcripts, and memorabilia from several of Berkman's These materials largely date from 2011 to 2016 and include photographs from a panel event at Tamiment Library honoring women first responders on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
This series is arranged alphabetically by subject and format.
Biographical / Historical
Brenda Berkman was born in 1951, and became interested in firefighting as a young girl. She earned her B.A. from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, an M.A. in History at Indiana University, a J.D. from New York University Law School, and an M.S. in Fire Protection Management from the City University of New York. At the time of her application to the New York Fire Department, she was a law student at New York University. Berkman is a founding member and former president of the United Women Firefighters from 1982 to 1986 and served as trustee of the Women in Fire Service from 1983 to 1992. She taught at the FDNY fire academy and the United States National Fire Academy. Berkman was a featured participant in the PBS program, Sex, Power, and the Workplace (1992) and was the subject of the Off-Broadway play, Firework (2002). Her story and that of her fellow women firefighters is the focus of the documentary, Taking the Heat: The First Women Firefighters of New York City (2006). She was promoted to Captain in 2002, only the third woman to achieve that rank.