William R. Berkley collection, 1880-1959

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Berkley, William R., collector.
Title: William R. Berkley collection, 1880-1959
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1399
Extent: .5 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:Materials collected by William R. Berkley documenting the history of aviation, African American culture and history, and the life of Josephine Baker.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Printed or manuscript music in this collection that is still under copyright protection and is not in the Public Domain may not be photocopied or photographed. Researchers must provide written authorization from the copyright holder to request copies of these materials.

Separated Material

Emory University also holds books and periodicals that form part of the William R. Berkley collection. These can be located in the Emory University catalog by searching, Berkley, William R., former owner.


Gift of the William R. Berkley family, 2017

Custodial History

The materials in this collection were collected over time by William R. Berkley. Their provenance before he acquired them is unknown.


[after identification of item(s)], William R. Berkley collection, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Arranged and described at the item level by Sarah Quigley, May 2017. The collection titles came from the inventory that accompanied the gift. Folder titles also came from that inventory, with some minor changes and omissions for brevity and clarity.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

William R. Berkley is a graduate of New York University (New York City, New York) and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration (Cambridge, Massachusetts). In 1967 he founded the W.R. Berkley Corporation, a Fortune 500 property-casualty insurance holding company, and served the company as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of the Board until 2015. He has founded numerous other financial companies, including The First Marblehead Corporation, the leading private student loan company in the United States. Berkley has served in numerous leadership roles at various universities, including as Chairman of the Board of Overseers of the Stern School of Business at New York University, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at New York University, and as a Director of Georgetown University, where he helped organize the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. He is also Chairman of Achievement First, a group of charter schools in the New York metropolitan area.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of manuscripts, printed material, and memorabilia documenting the history of aviation, African American history, and the life of Josephine Baker. The African Americana collection contains printed material such as published legislation, lists of Congressional Medal of Honor awardees, and commemorative postage stamps; memorabilia such as commemorative medals designed by French sculptors to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Duke Ellington; photographs; broadsides and advertisements; and printed material and letters documenting the activities of the Ku Klux Klan. The Aviation collection consists of one illustrated broadside advertising the James Means Signal for Army and Navy Air Scouts. The Josephine Baker collection is comprised of sheet music, photographs, and one phonograph record.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by collection, then in alphabetical order.

Finding Aid Note

A complete inventory of the collection, including both manuscript items and cataloged items is available from the repository.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Form/Genre Terms

Container List

African Americana collection
Box Folder Content
1 1 Congressional Medal of Honor, published list of awardees, 1891 February 24 [awards for events of 1889]
1 2 Congressional Medal of Honor, published list of awardees, 1891 December 17 [awards for events of 1885-1890]
1 3 Courbier, Marcel, commemorative medal to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize award, 1966
1 4 Harrison, Benjamin, presidential inaugural ball souvenir program, 1889 [Frederick Douglass was on the executive committee]
1 5 "Is the Ku Klux Klan Constructive of Destructive: A Debate Between Imperial Wizard Evans, Israel Zangwill and Others," Little Blue Book Number 652, 1924
1 6 Resseguier-Lagriffoul, Germaine, commemorative medal honoring Duke Ellington, 1967
1 7 Senate Bill 1978, "To assure to persons within the jurisdiction of every state the equal protection of the laws, and to punish the crime of lynching," 1934
1 8 Salomon, Lysius, cabinet card photograph, 1886 [inscribed by Salomon]
1 9 Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Uncle Tom's Cabin advertisement, J.S. Ogilvie and Company, circa 1878
1 10 T.C. Williams Company, "Octaroon," tobacco broadside, circa 1880
1 11 Washington, Booker T., postage stamp, first day issue, 1940
1 12 Women of the Ku Klux Klan, letters, 1927-1928
Aviation collection
1 13 Browne and Woodworth, "The James Means Signal for Army and Navy Air Scouts," illustrated broadside, 1910
Josephine Baker collection
1 14 Phonograph record, Paris Mes Amours, Moi "Io", Avec, and Je Voudrais, 1959 Moi "Io", Avec, and Je Voudrais, 1959
1 15 Photo postcard, circa 1928
1 16 Photograph, "Josephine Baker est Revenue D'Amerique," 1939 [Photographer: Associated Press Great Britain
1 17 Sheet music, J'ai Deux Amours, 1930
1 18 Sheet music, J'Etais Blanche, 1933
1 19 Sheet music, L'amour Est Un Jeu..., 1945
1 20 Sheet music, La Creole, 1934
1 21 Sheet music, Mon Rêve C'Etait Vous, 1931
1 22 Sheet music, Plus Tard, 1936
1 23 Sheet music, Suppose, 1931
1 24 Sheet music, Telephone, 1933