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Margaret Berry papers

 Collection
Identifier: sw0106

Scope and Content

The Margaret Berry papers document Berry's work with social service organizations and her long career in the U.S. settlement house movement. They also reflect her role as an unofficial historian of the settlement movement through items she collected about individuals, agencies, meetings, and events. The papers include Christmas newsletters, working papers, correspondence, clippings and memorial tributes to social work leaders, and photographs. The papers also include personal recollections about some of her activities and her thoughts on trends in the settlement house movement. Most of these were written as she prepared to send her records to the Archives. They are kept with the files documenting the particular activity about which they are written, but are housed in a separate folder. The material is divided into four series: Personal Material; Employment-Related Material; Conferences, and Material on Individuals and Agencies.

Most heavily represented and of special interest are Berry's work at Soho Community House and her involvement in the German Youth Leadership Project. She also belonged to locals of the Social Service Employees Union in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and served as secretary and president of the Pittsburgh local. A portion of her papers documents the union. Her years at the National Federation of Settlements (NFS) and the National Conference on Social Welfare (NCSW) are less fully documented. However, there is a book of letters from her colleagues that was given to Berry at a party in her honor when she moved from NFS to NCSW. The letters are from such people as Fern Colborn, Helen Hall, Alvin Schorr, and Helen Harris. Also included is material used in a paper that Berry wrote about the NCSW from 1968 to 1973, when the organization faced conflicts over race, civil rights and the future direction of social work. The material includes photographs, statements, correspondence, clippings, and information about encounters with groups such as the National Welfare Rights Organization and the National Association of Black Social Workers.

Dates

  • 1937-2001

Language of Materials

English

Use of Materials

Open for use in Social Welfare History Archives reading room.

Copyright

Please contact the Archives for copyright information.

Biographical Note

Margaret Berry was identified with the settlement movement, especially from the 1940s through the 1960s. She was involved with such organizations as the Industrial Department of the Cleveland YWCA, , Soho Community Settlement House (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), German Youth Leadership Project, National Federation of Settlements, International Federation of Settlements, National Conference on Social Welfare, and the U.S. Committee of the International Conference of Social Work. She was also an officer of the Social Service Employees Union in Pittsburgh.

Margaret Berry was born in 1915 in the small lumber town of Hermanville, Michigan. The daughter of a minister father and a teacher mother, she received her B.A. in Sociology from Albion College and her M.S.S.A. (Master's of Science in Social Administration) in 1937 from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She also served as a graduate assistant at the Bryn Mawr School for Women Workers.

After several field work and summer employment experiences, Berry began her post-graduate work experience with the Industrial Department of the Cleveland YWCA. From 1941 until 1952, she worked at Soho Community Settlement House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, eventually becoming executive director in 1947. During this time, she was also a field instructor for the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. In 1951 to 1952, she went to Stuttgart and Munich under the auspices of the German Youth Leadership Project to teach group work principles from a cross-cultural perspective. The project was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and administered by the National Social Welfare Assembly. Berry joined the staff of the National Federation of Settlements (NFS) in 1952, becoming the executive director in 1959. While working at NFS, she also served as president of the International Federation of Settlements from 1963 to 1971. She remained at NFS until 1971, when she resigned to become director of the National Conference on Social Welfare (NCSW). She retired in 1979. Her leadership years at both NFS and NCSW came at times when the organizations faced some of their most profound challenges, in particular surrounding the relationship of race and civil rights to welfare and social work. Berry also served on the U.S. Committee of the International Conference of Social Work from 1972 to 1979 and again from 1987 to 1990. Margaret Berry passed away in Amherst, Massachusetts, in November, 2002.

Extent

2.5 Linear Feet

Abstract

The Margaret Berry papers document her work with social service organizations and reflect her role as an unofficial historian of the settlement movement through items she collected about individuals, agencies, meetings, and events. The papers consist of: Berry's personal papers and memorabilia; materials related to her involvement with the Social Service Employees Union as well as local, national and international settlements and social welfare organizations; and clippings, memorials, and other materials documenting individuals and agencies in the field of social welfare.

Arrangement of Records

The Margaret Berry papers are arranged into four series:
  1. Series 1. Personal Material
  2. Series 2. Employment-Related Material
  3. Series 3. Conferences
  4. Series 4. Material on Individuals and Settlements

Other Finding Aid

Unpublished inventory available. Please contact the Archives for more information.

Acquisition Information

The Margaret Berry papers were a gift from Margaret Berry. The papers were received in many installments, beginning in 1970, but with most arriving after 1980. Accretions have been received as recently as 1993.

Related Records

The Social Welfare History Archives also holds records of the National Federation of Settlements (sw0056) and the National Conference on Social Welfare(sw0077), both of which contain extensive evidence of Margaret Berry's leadership in those organizations. The National Federation of Settlements records also include extensive files related to the International Federation of Settlements.
Title
Margaret Berry papers
Author
Sally Ryan, revised by Deborah King and Linnea M. Anderson
Date
2006
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Social Welfare History Archives Collecting Area

Contact:

612-624-6394