Susannah Clark

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Rosalyne S. Bernstein, Sumner Thurman Bernstein, University of Maine School of Law, Radcliffe College, Student Paper, National Council of Jewish Women, Israel, US Foreign Policy, Editorials, Middle East Conflict, Temple Beth El, Portland, Maine, Philanthropist, Bowdoin College, Osher Life Long Learning Institute, OLLI, Community Service, Spindel Family, Thurman Family



Rosalyne (Spindel) Bernstein (b. 1928) grew up in the Bronx, N.Y. and Fall River, MA, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Poland, and attended Radcliffe College as an economics major. She and her husband, Sumner Thurman Bernstein (a Portland native), moved to Portland in 1949. There, she played an active role in the community and was involved with numerous organizations, such as: National Council of Jewish Women (president); Head Start program in Portland (founder); Bowdoin College; University of Southern Maine; Maine Health Care Finance Commission; Maine Medical Center; American- Israeli Public Affairs Committee; New England Board of Higher Education; Maine Community Foundation; and Portland Museum of Art. She earned her law degree in 1986 from University of Maine School of Law. The Papers document her community work in the areas of government service (for the Maine Bicentennial Commission and the Maine Health Care Finance Commission in particular), educational service (including for the University of Southern Maine, Bowdoin College, and the Portland School Committee), and general volunteerism and philanthropy (such as with the Portland Museum of Art and the Maine Community Foundation). They also document her work for the Jewish community through participation in organizations (often in the area of fundraising), personal political activism, and work as an instructor. These materials include her political correspondence, particularly regarding U.S. foreign policy as it relates to Israel, opinion pieces published in the Portland Press Herald, texts of lectures and outlines of seminars (with related research), and reviews of a course she taught at the University of Southern Maine’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. A final section within the Papers deals with more personal documents, including correspondence about/from her years as a Radcliffe student, other personal/family correspondence, and miscellaneous writings and publicity. Significant genealogical research and stories about the Spindel, Bernstein, and Thurman (Sumner Bernstein’s mother’s) families are also present, as well as a variety of awards and honors Bernstein received, including VHS tapes of some of the awards ceremonies that include video clips of Bernstein herself.

Date Range:


Size of Collection:

5.5 ft.



The Rosalyne S. Bernstein Papers were created and/or compiled by Rosalyne Bernstein, who donated the material in 2002, with additional materials donated in 2007, 2012, and 2013.

Ownership and Literary Rights:

The Rosalyne S. Bernstein Papers are the physical property of the University of Southern Maine Libraries. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the creator or her/his legal heirs and assigns.

For further information, consult the Head of Special Collections,



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