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Jack Berry (1918-1980) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/18/1

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Scope and Contents

The original donation of Jack Berry Papers fills five legal size boxes. The materials consist of small amounts of biographical materials, correspondence, and reports along with larger bodies of research files and publications.

The biographical materials include curricula vitae, lists of publications, clippings, and news releases.

Correspondence and reports deal primarily with linguistic matters.

The research files contain manuscript and typed drafts of several dictionaries, many word lists, and a variety of notes. These are primarily concerned with the Ga and Adangme languages. This material includes phrases and lists of proverbs in addition to lists of words. There are also materials for the Jamaican, Krio, and Twi Languages.

Berry's publications contain drafts of three articles, a printed copy of a Krio to English dictionary, and printed copies of a Dictionary of Sierra Leone Krio, An Introduction to Akan, and An Introductory Course in Ga.

Addition, Boxes 6-13

The first addition fills eight legal size boxes and consists primarily of research files (4 boxes) and publications (3 boxes). There are also small amounts of education files, correspondence, and teaching files.

The research files consist primarily of notes, word lists, and other materials related to Berry's work with African languages, especially Adangme, Creole, Ewe, Ga, Krio, Nzema, and Twi.

The publications include three major items: word lists and notes related to a dictionary from English to Twi, Asante, Fante, and Nzema; comparative word lists of several languages; and several sections of a Krio/English and English/Krio dictionary.

The educational material consists of a copy of Berry's doctoral dissertation, "Structural Affinities of the Volta River Languages and Their Significance for Linguistic Classification." The correspondence refers mostly to Berry's research. The teaching files contain student papers and bibliographies.

Addition, Boxes 14-15

The second addition to the Jack Berry Papers fills two boxes, one of which is half-size. The addition primarily consists African fables (most likely from Ghana) translated by Berry into English. In several instances the original African text is provided with Berry's English translation.

There is also one folder of Ghanaian story and exercise books for children.

Addition, Boxes 16-18

The third addition to the Jack Berry papers fills three boxes, one of which is legal size. The addition consists primarily of correspondence, including personal letters and those relating to Berry's publications and to administrative and research matters. Of particular interest is the correspondence with Dr. Joshua A. Fishman, for whom Berry edited one issue of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language.

Also included are two of Berry's textbooks on African languages, and some of his papers that were published in other works. There is also one folder of field notes on Guang, from Berry's work in the Gold Coast in 1951.

Within each folder, correspondence is arranged in chronological order, with the exception of the folders of personal correspondence and reference letters, which are arranged alphabetically according to the name of the correspondent.


  • 1940-1980


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


18.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Jack Berry accepted an appointment at Northwestern University in 1964 as professor of African Languages and Linguistics. He held this position until his death on December 4, 1980. He served as the director of Northwstern's Program of Oriental and African Languages. His papers fill eighteen legal size boxes. They consist of biographical materials, correspondence, and reports, research files and publications.


The original donation of Jack Berry papers is organized into: research files (arranged alphabetically by language); publications; biographical material; and general correspondence and reports. Three additions contain broadly similar material.

Method of Acquisition

The Jack Berry Papers were transferred to the Northwestern University Archives by Mohammed Eissa via Megan Traquair, Program of the African and Oriental Languages, on November 10, 1987 (Accession #87-244). The first addition to the Jack Berry Papers was received from the Anthropology Dept. on September 8, 1993 (Accession # 93-138). The second addition to the Jack Berry Papers was transferred to the Northwestern University Archives by the Linguistics Department on July 25, 1991 as Accession #91-121. The third addition to the Jack Berry Papers was separated from the papers of Astair Demoz, Department of Linguistics (Accession #99-116), and donated to the Northwestern University Archives on July 20, 1999, as Accession #99-137.

Separated Materials

Approximately twelve linear inches of material unrelated to Berry was transferred to the Africana Department of the University Library. Small amounts of duplicate and non-relevant material were discarded. In the first addition, approximately five linear inches of material unrelated to Berry was transferred to the Africana Department of the University Library. Ten linear inches of extraneous material and five linear inches of duplicates were discarded. In the second addition, one quarter inch of duplicates was discarded. Processor: Alex L. Strauss, March 1998. In the third addition, approximately nine linear inches of duplicates and extraneous material were discarded.

Processing Information

William K. Beatty, November-December 1987; William K. Beatty, September - October 1993; Alex L. Strauss, March 1998; Catherine Anderson; July 14, 2000.

Guide to the Jack Berry (1918-1980) Papers
William K. Beatty; Alex L. Strauss; Catherine Anderson
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US