UD to Display Don Berry Photographs

Jan 12, 2007 | University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

The University's Charles C. Myers Library will host an exhibit of photographs taken by the late Don Berry, a prominent Iowa photographer. The exhibit will run from January 16 through February 28, 2007 and is available for viewing during regular library hours*. The exhibit is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 

The photographs come from a collection of negatives entrusted to Simpson College (Indianola, IA) after the death of Berry, a long-time publisher of the Indianola newspaper. The exhibit is supported by a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

A collaborative effort between Simpson professor of art David Richmond; Simpson's Dunn Library director, Cyd Dyer; and Michael Adams, director of public information at Simpson College, has preserved these important images for future generations. "The photographs are a wonderful document of Indianola and are a part of this town's heritage," said Adams. 

The collection, which was in serious danger of deterioration due to being stored in a non-archival environment, also included antique nitrate-based negatives, which have the potential to ignite and cause a fire without proper conservation. With help from Roy Hampton of Indianola and award-winning Des Moines photographer Ray Andrews, the negatives were cleaned, and prints and contact sheets were created for display and cataloging. "We're thrilled to be able to save these images because they would have just languished," commented Richmond. 

The photographs to be on display are some of Berry's best work, depicting Iowa and Warren County life in the 1920s through 1940s. Visitors to the exhibit will see a rich assortment of images, such as Iowa landscapes, WACS in Army Jeeps on the Indianola town square, children at play, and families of a long-gone era. 

"People will see a fascinating piece of Indianola," said Adams. "Berry's photographs show the people and places at a very important time in Warren County history, during the Depression and the war." 

Of the 40 photographs on display, 39 illustrate Iowa, and one is from Berry's travels to California. 

"The most satisfying photographic work I have ever done has been in my native Iowa," Berry once said. "When I have found something on a Warren County lane, along Warren County streams, in her pastures, her forests or amongst her barnyards, I have much more the feeling of having done something original and creative than to have added myself to the millions who have photographed Pike's Peak, the Grand Canyon of Colorado, Yosemite Falls or the capitol of Washington." 

Berrybegan his career as a reporter for The Des Moines Register in 1903 after graduating from Simpson College. In 1904 he left the newspaper to be a farmer. He never lost his love for journalism, and in 1920 Berry purchased the Indianola Record, which is now The Record-Herald and Indianola Tribune. He remained editor and publisher of the Warren County paper for 40 years, retiring in 1960. 

In addition to his long-time career in journalism, Berry was a staunch Republican, and served as a delegate to the 1936 Republican Convention. He was also appointed executive secretary of the National Republican Farm Study Committee, in addition to numerous other political groups. He died in 1974 at the age of 94. 

*The Charles C. Myers Library is open Monday - Thursday, 7:00 a.m. - 12:00 midnight; Friday, 
7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 12:00 noon - 12:00 midnight.