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Dr. Ernest Berry papers


Held at: African American Museum in Philadelphia [Contact Us]701 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA, 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Ernest R. (Royal) Berry (1930-1992) was an educator, performer, traveler, and collector of art. Born in Philadelphia in 1930, he earned a bachelor's degree from Cheyney State College in 1952 and masters' degrees from Howard University (Psychology, 1958) and Pennsylvania State University (Human Relations, 1954). Berry spent much of his time from 1958-1965 abroad. He earned numerous certificates from different European universities, including in child psychology, international affairs, and foreign languages; taught classes, and performed as an actor and singer on film, stage, and television. Berry earned PhD degrees from the University of Vienna (Education, 1963) and University of Munich (Psychology and Sociology, 1970).

In the mid 1960s Berry joined the faculty of Cheyney State College (now Cheyney University), an historically black college in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He remained there as a professor of psychology for over 20 years. In the 1980s, the faculty and students of Cheyney University filed concurrent suits against federal and state Department of Education officials and the school's president and board of trustees, alleging violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and contending that Pennsylvania operates a de jure segregated system of higher education. Berry was one of the lead litigants in Cheyney State College Faculty v. Hufstedler (No. 82-1282).


Ernest Royal Berry resume. Document found in collection.

This collection largely consists of materials relating to Berry's travels in Europe in the late 1950s and early 1960s, his career at Cheyney University and related legal battle, and a large amount of ephemera, especially playbills, from arts and cultural events Berry attended. It includes scrapbooks, photograph albums, correspondence, clippings, and ephemera.

Most of the materials relating to Berry's travels in Europe in the late 1950s and early 1960s are contained in over one dozen scrapbooks. There are foreign press clippings, some of which are in German or other European languages, about Berry's career as a singer/performer. There are also photographs (black and white), playbills, and ticket stubs and travel ephemera.

A large amount of materials in the collection relates to arts and culture. There are numerous playbills, in scrapbooks and loose, as well as headshots from mostly African American performers (some signed). Berry supported numerous local arts and performance organizations in the Philadelphia area, and there are programs and other pieces of ephemera from various of these in the collection. There is also correspondence about art objects that Berry purchased.

A sizeable amount of papers from Berry's academic career are also included in the collection. There are files on Cheyney University and on Berry's involvement with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. Of note are legal documents from and clippings about the suits Cheyney University faculty brought against the University and the Department of Education.

Accession AAMP.1990.011.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact African American Museum in Philadelphia directly for more information.

African American Museum in Philadelphia
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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