Sylvia BernsteinSeaman

Sylvia Bernstein Seaman fought for women’s suffrage as a teenager, then became an important voice for second wave feminism as the first person outside the medical profession to write about breast cancer. Seaman began marching for suffrage in 1915 and was arrested for publically wearing britches as a young woman. She graduated from Cornell and began teaching high school English before becoming a professional writer. Her first books were novels, co-written with her college roommate, Frances Schwartz, under the alias Francis Sylvin. In 1965, after surviving a mastectomy, she wrote Always a Woman: What Every Woman Should Know about Breast Cancer. The book was both popular and controversial in an era when few people talked publically about cancer. She followed this with How to Be a Jewish Grandmother in 1979, talking frankly about her own experiences, including taboo subjects like drinking and contraception. In both efforts, she was encouraged by her daughter-in-law, Barbara Seaman, co-founder of the National Women’s Health Network.


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Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

Date of Death
Activist, Writer, Educator

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Sylvia Bernstein Seaman." (Viewed on January 17, 2021) <>.


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