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Martha Berry and the Berry Schools

Guide to research and resources on Martha Berry and the Berry Schools

Martha Berry: Founder of the Berry Schools

Martha Berry’s life work centered on educating Appalachian mountain children so that they could progress in life.

Martha McChesney Berry was born on Turkey Town Plantation in Etowah County, Alabama on October 7, 1865. She was the second oldest daughter of Thomas and Frances Rhea Berry. In 1900, Martha began her Sunday schools and day schools in the Rome area, including one at Possum Trot, a one-room chapel up in the mountains.

On January 13, 1902, Berry established the Boys Industrial School, the start of a forty-year long project that would expand and evolve into today’s Berry College. The School for Boys began as a boarding school where boys with significant financial need came to work and learn. In 1909, Berry added the Martha Berry School for Girls. All of the schools were focused on Martha Berry’s ideal of educating the “Head, Heart and Hands” (education, faith, and work).

Martha Berry put enormous time and energy into the creation and support of her schools, travelling across the United States for fundraising. Friends and supporters included Henry and Clara Ford, presidents of the United States, Amelia Earhart, and many others. Throughout her life, Martha Berry was committed to a number of causes and organizations, and was presented with numerous awards and achievements. Martha Berry died on February 27, 1942 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Archival Materials at Berry College

Related Archival Collections

  • Benson Ford Research Center at the Henry Ford Museum
    Martha Berry and Clara Bryant Ford maintained a regular correspondence; the Fords and the Ford Motor Company were benefactors of the Berry Schools. The Berry Schools Collections is primarily composed of a detached album of black and white photographs of Martha Berry, Berry School students, classroom activities, and the college campus. Other collections of interest include the David Lanier Lewis papers, Engineering Laboratory Office records, the Engineering Library Vertical File, and the General Personal records series. 
  • Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, Emory University Libraries
    Related collections include the papers of journalist Mildred Seydell (columnist for the Atlanta Georgian 1924-1939 and editor and publisher of her own bi-weekly newspaper, The Think Tank, 1941-1947); the Harvey Warren Cox Papers; the Joyce Knight Blackburn Papers; the Susan Myrick Papers; and the Emily Woodward Papers. See the John A. Sibley Papers and the Robert Winship Woodruff Papers for the Sibley and Woodruff connection to the Berry Board of Trustees.
  • Special Collections Libraries, University of Georgia Libraries
    Related collections include the David Lewis Earnest Photographic Collection and the Emily Woodward Papers.  
  • Archival Records @ WorldCat

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