Hy Berman, historian and political commentator, has died at age 90

Hy Berman
Hy Berman

Hy Berman, a likable historian who provided perspective on Minnesota, labor and DFL politics, has died. He was 90.

Berman taught at the University of Minnesota from 1961 to 2004, and in his retirement was seen frequently on television news shows, particularly TPT’s “Almanac.”

He was from New York and his parents were immigrant garment workers.

He earned a B.S. in 1948 from City College of New York and his Ph.D. in 1956 from Columbia University. Before coming to the U of M, he was a history instructor at City College of New York (1952-1956), Brooklyn College (1956-1960) and assistant professor at Michigan State University (1960-1961). 

The U of M listed his specialties as:

  • 20th century
  • American labor and radicalism
  • Minnesota history
  • Minnesotan immigrants
  • the Jewish labor movement
  • Twin Cities
  • U.S. labor history

When word of his weekend death became widely known this morning, condolences and accolades came quickly.

Dane Smith, president of Growth & Justice, said in a forum: “The guy was an amazing answer man when it came to Minnesota’s political history, particularly our unique DFL Party, and he was a sweetheart of a person too.”

David Schultz, Hamline University professor of political science, wrote: “Hy was the single most knowledgeable person I knew regarding Minnesota history. There is no comparison or equal to him. I learned  a lot from him.”

Ken Peterson, state commissioner of labor and industry, wrote: “Minnesota history is too often overlooked in  academe and politics. Hy made it come alive in both worlds.”

A funeral service for Berman will be Thursday, 11 a.m. at Temple Israel, 2324 Emerson Av. S., Minneapolis.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Anne Winkler-Morey on 11/30/2015 - 06:30 pm.

    Hy Berman

    His Legacy

  2. Submitted by jim flanagan on 11/30/2015 - 09:19 pm.

    Lucky enough to take his class at the U of M

    Excellent professor. He made an 8:15 am class in January truly interesting and enjoyable!

  3. Submitted by Wesley Volkenant on 11/30/2015 - 10:11 pm.

    RIP, Professor Berman!

    You were a treasure for Minnesotans who got their regular history fix on the “Almanac” program through the years. As a long-time union activist, your unique perspective on labor history in Minnesota was always illuminating.

    From the video vaults… http://www.mnvideovault.org/interest_area_people.php?&s=0&person_name_encode=Berman, Hy&result=1&new_personinit=B&limit=5&page=1

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