Frances Berman Sulsky

b. 1910

Frances Berman Sulsky, born in New York in 1910, was known for over half a century as Baltimore's leading milliner and trendsetter. She took chances in the retail world of women's fashion that distinguished her both as a merchandiser and a businesswoman. While a young girl, Frances was sent to live with her father's family near Patterson Park, where she received millinery training and worked in department stores. After returning to New York, she worked as a designer, becoming a significant force in the women's wear world. She returned to Baltimore, married Moe Berman in 1929, and had three daughters, Barbara, Natalie, and Rikki. A working woman throughout her life, Frances worked for several downtown milliners before opening her first store, Frances Berman Fashions, on Park Avenue. After the death of her husband, she opened a successful hat and accessories store in Northwest Baltimore. Frances later married a family friend, Louis Sulsky. Surrounded by her artwork, Frances lived in Pikesville and was an avid painter. She died on September 2, 2007.

Scope and Content Note

Frances describes her family background, childhood growing up in New York City, and her introduction to millinery at fourteen years old.  She recalls her family’s move to Baltimore to live with her paternal grandmother and closer to extended family. She quickly found millinery work at Park Avenue Millinery.  Frances describes her Jewish neighborhood in East Baltimore, the impact of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and growing her business after the death of her first husband.  Finally, Ms. Berman Sulsky reflects on being a businesswoman in the 1960s, how Baltimore has changed during her lifetime, and marrying her second husband, Louis Sulsky.

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Frances Berman Sulsky. Interviewed by Elaine Eff. 30 April 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 20, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/sulsky-frances>.

Oral History of Frances Berman Sulsky by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.