Jeanne Friegel Berman (1914 – 1981)

Jeanne Friegel Berman, political activist and civic leader, was born before the passage of the 19th Amendment (1920), which gave American women the right to vote. She grew up amid the First World War and the Great Depression. In 1931, she moved to Montgomery, and in 1932 married prominent insurance broker Isadore "Izzy" Berman. Jeanne's adult life was framed against the background of World War II, the Korean War, the Civil Rights Movement, and The Great Society movement. During these turbulent years of change, Jeanne and her husband raised three sons, and she became a leader in the promotion of women's voting rights, mental health access, education progress, and disease prevention.

Berman founded the Alabama League of Women Voters and organized most of the local League chapters in the state. During the administration of Alabama Governor Gordon Persons, Berman persuaded him to introduce a bill in the Legislature forming the Mental Health Association of Alabama. She was instrumental in lobbying for its passage.

Under Berman's guidance as a two-term president, the Alabama and Montgomery League of Women Voters became an effective political activist organization. Berman also served as state chairman for the Christmas Seal Fundraiser for many years, president of the Montgomery Lung Association, state treasurer for Alabama Tuberculosis Association, as well as the first female member of the Southern Regional Education Board She lobbied tirelessly for the creation of educational television programming in Alabama. During World War II, she volunteered as a member of Red Cross Motor Corps.

Berman influenced and rallied people toward noble aspirations. She courageously and single mindedly sought to make the lives of Alabama citizens better, regardless of their social standing, financial status, or race. Alabama has benefited greatly from the drive, leadership, and actions of Jeanne Friegel Berman. She died in 1981 of cancer at age 67, and, in a final act of generosity, donated her body to medical science.


Past Inductees
Alabama Women's Hall of Fame
Judson College

© 2005 Alabama Women's Hall of Fame