Martha Berry was born in 1866 to wealthy parents in the American South. She enjoyed a privileged upbringing and was expected, like many women of her era and position, to marry and to devote her life to family and social obligations. She chose instead to commit her inheritance to founding a school, and she dedicated the majority of her adult life to ensuring its growth and success. Although she remained unmarried and childless, she could fairly claim to have 'reared' many children through her work as founder and director of the Berry Schools, what is today known as Berry College.

I have been asked sometimes what the greatest result of my work has been. I would say the greatest result is the lives of the thousands of boys and girls who worked their way through Berry, and today are holding responsible places in the world. No one can estimate the value of education; no one can say where the mind will go, once it is set free. 

Martha Berry, 1939

The Martha Berry Collection comprises over 200 file boxes which contain between two and more than fifteen folders of documents each. Documents are filed by year, and, within each year, cataloged alphabetically by correspondent. While some few documents (contained in Filebox 1) date from 1885 and 1902-1911, the majority span a twenty-nine year period dating from 1912 through 1941.

Due to the large scale of the collection, much of its contents have yet to be studied. Cataloging is insufficient and unreliable. And many of the original documents were composed on tissue-thin paper which today is in very fragile condition. For these reasons, we especially value the opportunity to create access to the Martha Berry Collection via the Martha Berry Digital Archive (MBDA) and to seek community support as we work to describe and understand it.