Lerman, Louis Edward, 1894-

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Louis Edward Lerman was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 4, 1894, the son of Wolfe S. and Fanny N. (Jacobson) Lerman. After brief stints working for the railroad in New York and Ohio, and as a cowboy in Oklahoma, Lerman moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1916 and in the same year married Bertha Helen Licher of St. Paul. The couple had three children.

Blacklisted for joining the union when he worked for the Delaware and Hudson Railroad in New York, Lerman had trouble finding and keeping jobs in the railroad industry. He began a new career as a postal clerk in St. Paul, a job in which he stayed over 34 years, retiring in 1950. During these years Lerman helped organize the first postal clerks union in St. Paul and was elected secretary and legislative chairman. He also helped organize a postal clerks' credit union and was responsible for training over 400 new clerks in the postal laws and regulations.

Lerman was one of the founders of Group Health Mutual, founded in 1939 to provide health insurance to workers. Inspired by a 1954 trip to Israel, Lerman went on to incorporate the Group Health Medical Plan, modeled after the Israeli system of pre-paid medical care he had seen on his trip. Lerman became secretary of the plan, a position he held until 1969.

Lerman's work for Group Health was far from the only thing occupying his post-retirement years. In 1955, five years after retiring from the Post Office, Lerman began a second career as executive director of the Jewish Labor Committee, a subcommittee of the Minnesota Jewish Community Relations Council. His primary responsibility was in the area of community relations with various labor organizations throughout the state. Major projects included the annual Labor Institute on Human Relations and work in the Indian community, where he was involved with several programs designed to encourage Indian youth to complete their high school education, go on to further education in colleges and trade schools, and get jobs. In recognition of his contribution to the welfare of the Indian community, Lerman was officially adopted into the Ojibwe tribe in May 1962, and was the first non-Indian ever to be presented the Lone Eagle Feather, the Ojibwe "Medal of Honor." Lerman finally retired from the Jewish Labor Committee in 1974, at the age of 80.

Louis Lerman died in St. Paul in June of 1978. Additional biographical information is available in the collection.

From the guide to the Louis Lerman papers, 1917-1978 (bulk 1955-1974)., (Minnesota Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Lerman, Louis Edward, 1894-. Louis E. Lerman papers, 1917-1978 (bulk 1955-1974). Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Louis Lerman papers, 1917-1978 (bulk 1955-1974). Minnesota Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Blatnik, John A., 1911-1991 person
associatedWith Blatnik, John A. (John Anton), 1911- person
associatedWith Chapin, Arthur. person
associatedWith Cowles, John, 1929- person
associatedWith Cowles, John, 1929-2012. person
associatedWith Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Ervin, Sam J. (Sam James), 1896-1985. person
associatedWith Fraser, Donald MacKay, 1924- person
associatedWith Freeman, Jane. person
associatedWith Group Health (Organization). corporateBody
associatedWith Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978. person
associatedWith Independent Workmens Cirle of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Jewish Community Relations Committee of Minnesota. Jewish Labor Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Jewish Labor Committee (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Jobs for Minnesota Indians. corporateBody
associatedWith Jourdain, Roger A. person
associatedWith Jourdain, Roger A. person
associatedWith Judd, Walter Henry, 1898-1994. person
associatedWith Karth, Joseph E. (Joseph Edward), 1922- person
associatedWith Keith, Alexander MacDonald, 1928- person
associatedWith Keith, A. M., 1928- person
associatedWith Knutson, Cornelia Gjesdal, 1912- person
associatedWith Labor's Committee for Minnesota Indian Youth. corporateBody
associatedWith Langen, Odin, 1913-1976. person
associatedWith Lerman family. family
associatedWith Lerman family. family
associatedWith Lewis, Herbert. person
associatedWith Lewis, Herbert. person
associatedWith MacGregor, Clark, 1922- person
associatedWith MacGregor, Clark, 1922- person
associatedWith Magnusson, Cyrus E. person
associatedWith Magnusson, Cyrus E. person
associatedWith McCarthy, Eugene J., 1916-2005. person
associatedWith Minnesota AFL-CIO. corporateBody
associatedWith Minnesota Labor Committee for Human Rights. corporateBody
associatedWith Mondale, Walter F., 1928- person
associatedWith Naftalin, Arthur. person
associatedWith Nelsen, Ancher, 1904-1933. person
associatedWith Rasmussen, Paul A., 1895-1970. person
associatedWith Reuther, Roy, 1909-1968. person
associatedWith Ridder, Bernard Herman, 1916- person
associatedWith Rolvaag, Karl F., 1913-1990. person
associatedWith Selkirk, George B. person
associatedWith Thye, Edward John, 1896-1969. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
North America
Indians of North America
Indians of North America
Indian youth
Indian youth
Labor movement
Labor movement
Ojibwa Indians
Ojibwa Indians
Social service
Social service


Birth 1894

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Ark ID: w6md156p

SNAC ID: 13801039