“We believe that boundaries cannot be drawn satisfactorily with the sword. That disputes cannot be settled by sacrificing young men on the battlefield. That a nation which spends four-fifths of its income on war and preparation for war cannot advance the civilized arts of life.”
Fanny Brin, from a radio speech delivered in New Orleans, 1935
Fanny Fligelman was just a few months old when her family immigrated from Romania to Minneapolis. She joined the woman suffrage movement while a student at the University of Minnesota. She went on to serve as president of the Workers’ Equal Suffrage Club in 1912. Through her suffrage work, Fligelman (later Brin) learned how to build alliances and step out of traditional women’s roles. Those lessons prepared her for a life fighting for Jewish welfare, democracy, and world peace.
Brin joined the National Council of Jewish Women in 1923. She was the group’s president from 1932 to 1938. During this time she promoted the Kellogg-Briand Pact, an agreement not to use war to solve disputes, that the US Congress ratified in 1929. She became a representative to the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War. Eleanor Roosevelt appointed her to a committee that studied humanitarian needs during the Great Depression.
Perhaps Brin’s greatest moment as a peace activist was her appointment as a delegate to the United Nations Conference in 1945. She was present at the signing of the UN Charter on June 26, 1945.
From left: Fanny Brin, Jane Addams, Hannah Solomon, and Mrs. Gershon Levi, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) convention, Chicago, IL, 1934. Courtesy Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives. Brin was NCJW president from 1932 to 1938.
Eleanor Roosevelt (left) with Fanny Brin, November 11, 1936. Courtesy Hennepin County Library. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was in Minneapolis to speak at the Municipal Auditorium. Roosevelt was already acquainted with Brin’s work.
U of M dean Richard Scammon, Fanny Brin, and US District Judge Gunnar Nordbye, May 22, 1939. Courtesy Hennepin County Library. Brin spoke at a mass rally protesting the limitation of Jewish rights to enter British Mandate Palestine by the British.
Front, second from right: Fanny Brin with the Friday Study Group, Minneapolis Chapter of the NCJW, about 1930. Courtesy Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives.
Fanny Brin’s evening bag, 1920s. Courtesy Judith Brin Ingber. Judith Brin Ingber remembers hearing that her grandmother's volunteer work brought many invitations to formal events, including White House dinners hosted by Eleanor Roosevelt.