Myrna Katz Frommer, 80, Dies; Oral Historian of Catskills and Brooklyn

Historians in the News
tags: obituaries, oral history

Myrna Katz Frommer, who channeled the voices of comedians and busboys in the Catskills and teachers and rabbis in Brooklyn through vivid oral histories she created with her husband, died on Aug. 8 at her home in Lyme, N.H. She was 80.

Her son Frederic said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Ms. Frommer died just a week after her husband, Harvey Frommer.

Ms. Frommer edited her husband’s many books, which were frequently about baseball, before he submitted them. But she was not a sports fan. When they began to work on oral histories in the late 1980s, however, they found common ground.

Their first book, “It Happened in the Catskills” (1991), started as a conventional narrative history of the fast-fading world of summer resorts and bungalow colonies known as the borscht belt. But they recognized that the stories they were hearing from waiters, guests, agents, bellhops and other personalities would be better told in their own voices.

“To capture a phenomenon shortly before it disappears into the mists of memory,” they wrote, “there may be no medium more effective than oral history.”

Read entire article at NY Times

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