Philip I. and Muriel M. Berman Papers Collection II
Scope and Contents
The Philip I. and Muriel M. Berman Papers: Collection II provides extensive documentation of the various interrelated interests and activities of Philip and Muriel Berman. These include their involvement with Jewish causes, such as State of Israel Bonds, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Publication Society, and Hadassah; collecting art (especially outdoor sculpture), donating art (especially to educational institutions and hospitals), and encouraging artists (Israeli artists among others); promoting cooperative Jewish-Christian relations; representing the American Jewish Committee at United Nations conferences; and working to foster community projects at the local level.
Collection II contains records ranging in date from 1863 to 2004. Two books are the earliest items: an 1863 schoolbook (Series VII, Box 67, Item 12) and The American Jewish Year Book 5660, published in 1899 as the first publication of the Jewish Publication Society (Series VII, Box 68, Item 2). The earliest unpublished item appears to be a photograph (ca. 1907) of Muriel Berman’s father Dr. Solomon Mallin (Subseries III.H, Box 32, Folder 11). This photograph is identified and dated on the back in the hand of Muriel Berman. Most of the records, however, belong to the period 1942-1997. As in Collection I, there is a wide variety of formats, including correspondence, business records, legal briefs, photographic prints, books, albums, posters, plaques, and even small sculptures. Occupying a total of 121 linear feet, the Collection is organized into eleven Series, seven of which are divided into a total of forty-six Subseries. For each Series that is not subdivided, as well as for each Subseries, a separate introduction is provided in this guide.
Just as Collection I consisted largely of records created and/or preserved at the Bermans’ office by Philip Berman, the contents of Collection II seem largely to have been created and/or saved by Muriel Berman at their home, 2000 Nottingham Road, Allentown. There are exceptions, such as the Warminster file in Series IV: this file seems to have been created entirely by and for Philip Berman. But the notes and labeling in Muriel Berman’s handwriting on many other files clearly indicate that they were hers, as for instance Subseries I.A, the Art and Artist File. Clearly, also, one of her strong interests was preservation of family memorabilia. Thanks to her, the Collection contains, for example, scrapbooks (Subseries VI.A, Box 65, Item 3; cf. Subseries III.C, Box 28, Folder 8 through Box. 29, Folder 8) from the early years of the Bermans’ marriage, a wide variety of family memorabilia, including photographs (as in Subseries IV.H, Box 31, Folder 18 through Box 32, Folder 16), and extensive files on the activities of both Muriel and Philip Berman (e.g. Subseries II.B, Box 23, Folder 14 through Box 26, Folder 8).
As might be expected, there is some overlap of Collection II with Collection I. Not only are numerous photographs and newspaper articles duplicated in the two collections, but the same major themes pervade both, especially the passion for art and the tireless support of Jewish causes. The serious researcher may, it is true, find Collection II more of a challenge to work with than Collection I, because the files in Collection II are less rigorously organized and are also fragmented into so many small groups. He or she will discover, in addition, that in the finding aid for Collection II the contents of the folders are very selectively recorded and do not list every potentially interesting item in the folders. Nevertheless, the researcher who perseveres is likely to be amply rewarded, both by surprising factual discoveries and by better acquaintance with Philip and Muriel Berman.
Highlights of the Collection are, as in Collection I, too numerous to list in detail. Some of the more significant items are: a ten page typescript narrative, composed ca. 1959, of Philip Berman’s business career, written in the third person either by him or by an interviewer and filled with factual detail (Box 34, Folder 5); an eight page draft for a talk, dated May 16, 1965, on what it means to be a Jew, partly typed and partly handwritten, by Philip Berman (Box 21, Folder 16); the transcript of an oral history interview with Philip Berman conducted in 1996 by the Center for American Jewish History at Temple University (Box 48, Folder 9); ample files on Hadassah in various places (e.g. Series I.C, Boxes 7-10; Series II.A, Boxes 14-15; Series II.B, Boxes 18-20); letters from a variety of notable people, including Henry Moore (Box 2, Folders 13-14), Thomas “Tip” O’Neill (Box 6, Folder 15), Teddy Kollek (Box 34, Folder 18), Ephraim Katzir, President of Israel (Box 45, Folder 3), Eleanor Roosevelt (Box 7, Folder 16), Yitzhak Rabin (Box 62, Folder 2); and signed photographs of Jimmy Carter (Box 17, Folder 17), Bill Clinton (Box 17, Folder 19); Hubert Humphrey (Box 49, Folder 15), Sofia Loren (Box 49, Folder 18), George London (Box 49, Folder 21), Tenzing Norgay (Box 49, Folder 27), Binyamin Netanyahu (Box 49, Folder 27). There are also, in other categories, such items as a typescript carbon of the “Bylaws of The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation” (Box 86, Folder 16); a printed drawing by Francoise Gilot with a poem by Jonas Salk (Box 87, Folder 7); autographed books by Jack Kemp and Tenzing Norgay (Box 67, Items 11 and 9); bronze, silver, and gold centennial medallions of the Metropolitan Opera (Box 83, Item 16); a pen used by Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the act to establish the National Foundation for the Arts and the Humanities (Box 80, Item 19); a wrench used to assemble Alexander Calder’s “Stabile” in Jerusalem (Box 82, Item 2); and a small bronze sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz (Box 82, Item 15). Notable as one of the more surprising items is a printed 1944 program for a dinner of The Traffic Club of Reading, Pennsylvania, for which the Guest Speaker was The Honorable Harry S. Truman, United States Senator, State of Missouri (Box 36, Folder 9).
Lastly, special mention must be made here of Series XI, which contains an estimated 12,650 photographic prints mounted in polypropylene pages which in turn are housed in thirty-seven three-ring binders. Most of these photographs record outdoor sculptures seen in museums, sculpture parks, and exhibitions. The identification of these is sparse, but they nevertheless should prove to be a valuable resource for future researchers.
- 1863 - 2004
- Majority of material found within 1943 - 1997
Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.
Note on Provenance and Access
The Philip I. and Muriel M. Berman Papers: Collection II was brought directly to Special Collections, Lehigh University, from the Bermans’ house at 2000 Nottingham Road, Allentown, Pa., in November 2005, in anticipation of the sale of the house. Processing of the Collection was completed by the project archivist in November 2006. At this writing (Nov. 2, 2006), the Collection remains the property of Nancy Berman Bloch, on deposit with Lehigh University. Access to any part of the Collection therefore can be only by permission of Nancy Berman Bloch. When ownership of the Collection is transferred to Lehigh University, the terms of access are expected to be the same as those for Collection I. Researchers will be welcome to use most of the materials from the Collection under the supervision of the Department of Special Collections. Some items will be restricted, as being sensitive, until January 1, 2030. Some items of special value will be removed from their folders, stored separately, and replaced with photocopies in so far as practicable.
Collection is open for research.
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Biographical / Historical
Philip Isaac Berman, born June 28, 1915, and Muriel Mallin Berman, born June 21, 1914, were married on September 23, 1942. They devoted much of their extraordinary energy and considerable fortune to philanthropy and public service throughout the 55 years of their marriage. Philip Berman died November 26, 1997, and Muriel Berman died April 13, 2004. For a detailed biographical sketch, see the introductory paragraphs to the Berman Family Archives: Collection I (SC MS 95).
121 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The Collection is organized into eleven Series, seven of which are divided into a total of forty-six Subseries. Format has determined the content of some of the Series and Subseries, as for the most part it has of Series VII through XI, where are found, for instance, the albums, phonograph records, video tape recordings, framed documents, plaques, medallions, and photographic prints, as well as assorted oversize items. In Series I-VI, the files created by Muriel Berman are to varying degrees subject files, such as Subseries I.B focusing on the Jewish Publication Society, or Subseries I.C focusing on Hadassah. The two alphabetical files in Series II also incorporate major components united by subject. When it has been necessary to assemble into manageable categories items found scattered and not part of pre-existing files, an attempt has been made to take subject into account, as well as format, as in Subseries III.J and VI.J.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Nancy Berman, 2005.
As he did in processing Collection I, the Project Archivist has tried the patience of several people in processing Collection II. All have nevertheless been most supportive, and he gladly takes this opportunity to express his gratitude. Sincere thanks are due to Christine Roysdon, Philip Metzger, Lois Black, Ilhan Citak, Diana, Jody, and Eunice. Equally sincere thanks are due to Nancy Berman Bloch, who answered many a question most generously, and to Janet Heffner, long-time secretary and administrative assistant to the Bermans, for her kind, efficient, and knowledgeable help.
James Tyler, Project Archivist
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository
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