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Dec 9, 2022
Manuscripts – Papers of Rev. Otto B. Berg, 1909-1995
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
Berg, Rev. Otto B., 1915-1991
Papers of Rev. Otto B. Berg, 1909-1995
Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 115
Creator: Rev. Otto B. Berg
Title: Papers of Rev. Otto B. Berg, 1937-1987
Quantity: 7.0 Linear Feet (14 document boxes)
Abstract: Rev. Berg was a prolific clergyman in the Deaf community and this collection focuses on his work as a clergyman.
Note: This document last updated 2005 November 21.
Acquisition Information: His wife, Mary Ann Berg, gave the Rev. Otto B. Berg Papers to the Gallaudet University Archives. The gifts were made in March 1995 and April 1996.
Processed by: Michael Olson. February 2001.
Processing Note: Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.
Related Material in the Archives:
Rev. Otto B. Berg was born on January 7, 1915, in Mohall, North Dakota. He grew up on a farm and attended public schools for nine years until he became deaf at 14 due to a medical ailment. He was transferred to the North Dakota School for the Deaf at Devils Lake and graduated in 1932. He was employed as a printer and also an editor at a county newspaper. In 1933 he entered Gallaudet College, now Gallaudet University. There he was involved in several activities, specifically as an editor for The Buff and Blue, a student newspaper. Berg graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938. Following his graduation, he worked as a printer and edited a small weekly newspaper in Wisconsin.
Rev. Berg became interested in becoming a priest for the deaf, and he entered the Divinity School of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Philadelphia in 1940. He graduated with a Bachelor of Theology degree in 1943. He began to work with deaf people. Rev. Berg was ordained as a Deacon at All Soul’s Church for the Deaf in Philadelphia on May 30, 1943. He served as a missionary to the deaf for the Dioceses of Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia, South and Southwest parts of Virginia from November 1, 1943, to December 31, 1947. He also was ordained as an Episcopal priest at Church of St. Michael’s and All Angel’s in Baltimore on May 27, 1944. Rev. Berg was married to Mary Ann Laken in 1945 and had two children, David and Larry.
Rev. Berg served as a vicar at All Souls’ Church for the Deaf in Philadelphia from January 1948 to September 1950. He was a missionary to the deaf for the Dioceses of New Jersey and Delaware. In 1950 Rev. Berg and his family moved to Washington, DC. He served as a vicar at St. Barnabas Mission for the Deaf from 1951 until his retirement on June 30, 1979. He was a part-time chaplain at Gallaudet College until September 1, 1950. He founded Canterbury Club, an Episcopal group for Gallaudet students. Rev. Berg worked as a missionary to the deaf for the Dioceses of Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. He also served as a Vicar at Resurrection, St. Mark’s Church, and St. John’s Church in Chevy Chase. He retired in 1979. However, he continued to be active as a volunteer teacher at Andeweg School for the Deaf in Beirut, Lebanon, for a short time.
Rev. Berg was involved in the activities for the Deaf community in the Washington, DC area. He was the president for the DC chapter of Gallaudet University Alumni Association. Rev. Berg was also the founder and president of the National Health-Care Foundation for the Deaf, Inc. He served as a President for the Episcopal Conference for the deaf from 1966 to 1969. He also was the president of the Washington DC Division 46 of the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf from 1970 to 1973. He served on the Board for the Telecommunication Exchange for the Deaf, Inc. He was an editor of The Deaf Episcopalian. In 1980 he was named as a Historiographer for the Episcopal Conference for the deaf. In 1991 he received an award from the Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund. He received several awards for his tiring service to the deaf.
Rev. Berg wrote a book about the history of the Episcopal Church for the Deaf, titled “Missionary Chronicle: being a history of the ministry to the deaf in the Episcopal Church, 1850-1980,” published in 1984. He authored with Henry L. Buzzard, “Thomas Gallaudet: apostle to the deaf: with a supplement on the life and ministry of Henry W. Syle,” published in 1989. Rev. Berg died on May 4, 1991, in Washington, DC.
Scope and Content
The Rev. Otto B. Berg Papers consist of correspondence, clippings, articles, booklets, brochures, program books, certificates, diaries, minutes, reports, sermons, newsletters, constitution and by-laws, memorandums, annual reports, and pamphlets. Rev. Berg was an Episcopal priest from 1944 until his retirement in 1979. He was a missionary to the deaf for New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. He was involved in serving with deaf organizations in Washington, DC area.
The collection, which consists of approximately 11,900 pages, dates from 1909 to 1995. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, newsletters, and sermons. The bulk dates are mostly between 1943 and 1991, which was during his time he served as an Episcopal priest and missionary to the deaf. The strength of the collection is centered mostly on activities with Episcopal Church for the Deaf.
The largest subject in the collection is focused on the Episcopal Church, which Rev. Berg was heavily involved in. Rev. Berg served as a priest and vicar in Philadelphia and Washington, DC area. He was involved with the Episcopal Conference for the Deaf. Rev. Berg was involved with several organizations, such as Deaf Pride, Inc; District of Columbia Association for the Deaf, Inc; National Fraternal Society of the Deaf Washington Division #46; Telecommunication Exchange for the Deaf, Inc; and National Health-Care Foundation for the Deaf, Inc.
The collection consists of correspondence between Rev. Berg and his friends, Rev. Joseph Ondiek and Bishop Ghais Abdel Malik whose reside in Europe and Egypt; also Father A. J. Andeweg of Switzerland. These letters are related to their work with deaf people.
The collection includes two boxes of sermons between 1943 and 1987. They are arranged by year. Rev. Berg wrote these sermons when he was served in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. There are index cards that listed deaf Episcopal members from 1949 to 1960.
Of interest item in the collection, Rev. Berg kept a journal while he was student at Gallaudet College. It is called “Daily Page” written between 1935 and 1938 which tells his daily activities at Gallaudet for his class assignments.
In the collection including one old minute book of “Washington Episcopal Deaf-Mute Mission Guild” dated from 1909 to 1911. However, there are few pages written by a secretary of that organization.
Series 1: Episcopal File
Boxes 1-8 1909-1995
Rev. Otto B. Berg was an Episcopal priest and vicar to the deaf from 1944 to 1979. In this series are correspondence, newsletters, brochures, reports, constitution and by-laws, minutes, and sermons. The collection mainly includes materials related to Episcopal activities for the deaf.
Series 2: General File
Box 8 1945-1992
This series consists various subjects relating to deaf. Including in this collection there is two folders on Wilson H. Grabill, a close friend of Rev. Berg’s.
Series 3: Organizations File
Boxes 9-11 1951-1991
Rev. Berg involved in several organizations in the Washington, D.C. area between 1951 and at the time of his death in 1991. Including in this series are correspondence, minutes, reports, constitution and by-laws, and newsletters. He was heavily involved with the organizations between 1981 and 1991 after he retired from Episcopal Church.
Series 4: Personal File
Boxes 11-14 1922-1991
This series includes various subjects relating to Rev. Berg’s activities. This collection includes correspondence, awards, certificates, diplomas, program books, membership cards, diaries, and journals. Class assignments and a journal written by Rev. Berg while he was in college between 1935 and 1938 are included. Also including in this series are diaries kept by Rev. Berg written between 1947 and 1959 relating to church activities and travels. Two elementary school grade reports between 1922 and 1924 are included in this collection. The obituary of Rev. Berg is included.
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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