Skip to main content

Harris Scheer Berg family papers

 Collection
Identifier: IWA1040

Scope and Contents

The Harris Scheer Berg family papers date from 1869 to 2018 and measure 7.5 linear feet (9 boxes). The papers are arranged in five series: Family Records, Correspondence, Photographs, Books, and Artifacts.

The Family Records series (1876 – 2018) covers the personal papers and records of Hannah Scheer Berg, from elementary report cards and recital programs to degrees, certificates, and records of her work and volunteer activities. This series extends from the Harris, Scheer, and Berg families, all in a lineage related by marriage, to the Ohsman and Katz family cousins. The main body of the papers pertains to Norman and Hannah Scheer Berg and their children, followed by materials related to extended family. This series includes genealogy, financial records, funeral and wedding announcements, property documentation, and military service records.

The Correspondence series (1911 – 2006) includes love letters between Norman and Hannah Berg during World War II, postcards from family members, mail to and from the Berg children, as well as telegrams and other correspondence.

The Photographs series (c. 1900 – 2015) has two sub-series, Albums and Loose photographs. The Albums subseries show various branches of the family in family photograph albums, wedding albums, and commemorative albums. The Loose photographs sub-series houses photos sorted by approximate decade and includes a wide range of family members, friends, homes, vacations, and special events.

The Books series (1869-1984) consists of 20 books. The majority of the books are prayer books and spiritual texts. Most of these are in Hebrew with either English or Russian notes, both printed in the text and handwritten by former owners and family members. The Jewish Child Everyday features a music score by Bella Scheer Covich. The series also includes books about Jewish food and food preparation from commercial publishing, local publishing, and Hannah Berg’s personal collection and distribution of recipes.

The Artifacts series ([c. 1900]-1980) contains family heirlooms such as table linens and baby garments handmade by Libbie Harris Scheer’s sister, Hannah Scheer Berg’s aunt, Jennie Harris Kahn as well as B’nai B’rith materials and personal mementos, such as a lock of Hannah Scheer’s hair from the first time it was trimmed.

The AV series (pre-1941) includes two vinyl records approximately 7 inches in diameter. They are Victor Record Blanks for Home Recording, and one is labeled “Hannah Scheer” and the other “1st.”.

Dates

  • 1869-2018

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

Biographical / Historical

Libbie “Goggie” Harris Scheer, was born in 1883 to Mendel Chaim “Charles” Harris and Zlotta Rosenberg Harris Levy in Des Moines, Iowa. Harris had four siblings, Jennie Harris Kahn, Sol Harris, Udel Harris, and David Harris. She worked at the family store, Charles Harris Grocer, in Des Moines where she met Max Scheer, whom she would marry in 1910. They moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and had two children, Bella Louise Scheer Covich in 1913 and Hannah Pauline Scheer Berg in 1921. Max Scheer died in 1939. Libbie Harris Scheer died in 1969.

Hannah Pauline Scheer Berg was born in 1921 to Max Scheer and Libbie Harris Scheer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She attended Taylor Elementary School in the Cedar Rapids Public School District and Roosevelt High School as a teenager. Scheer performed declamations, was on the debate team, and wrote for the Roosevelt High School newspaper. During this time, Scheer worked at a jewelry store and also made money by performing declamations at events across the state. After graduating from high school in 1939, Scheer attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City, majoring in journalism, then dropped out to take care of her mother. While at the University, she was associated with a Jewish sorority, Sigma Delta Tau.

In 1941, Scheer married Norman Berg in Cedar Rapids shortly before the United States entered World War II. They were on their honeymoon on Pearl Harbor Day. Norman Berg volunteered three times to join the military and was rejected twice before being enlisted for service in 1942. When he was stationed at Camp Roberts in California, Hannah Berg joined him there and they had their first child, Jeanne Esther, in 1943. Berg and her daughter returned to Cedar Rapids in 1945 as Norman Berg was assigned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina and discharged in 1946.

The Bergs moved to Peoria, Illinois, in 1947, where their middle child Ruth Maxine was born in 1950 and youngest child David Owen in 1954. Ruth and David both had cystic fibrosis. Hannah Berg advocated for her children and other cystic fibrosis patients by establishing a central Illinois clinic for children with cystic fibrosis despite pediatricians who felt that it was not a disease or that the incidence was too low to merit concern much less a clinic. Berg was elected president of the Peoria Chapter of the National Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation and her husband served on the National Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation Board of Directors. In 1962, David died of complications related to cystic fibrosis.

Hannah and Norman Berg relocated to Indiana from 1968-1971 before returning to Peoria for Norman’s brokerage job. Hannah Berg was active in Congregation Anshai Emeth Sisterhood. Berg moved with her husband to Chicago in 1974. She volunteered for the National Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation in both Peoria and Chicago. Berg’s daughter Ruth passed away in 1975 due to complications related to cystic fibrosis. The Bergs remained in Chicago until 1979 before moving to the San Diego, California, area. Hannah Berg attended the East San Diego Community College Adult Center for advanced typing and office lab courses. She continued to work as her husband received disability benefits and could no longer work. Norman Berg died in 1983. Hannah Berg remained in San Diego and worked in a number of roles at Mercy Hospital. Berg moved to Minnesota in 2011 to be near her daughter Jeanne Abrons. She died in 2015.

Jeanne Esther Berg Abrons was born in 1943 in Cedar Rapids to Norman Berg and Hannah Scheer Berg. As a child, she attended Calvin Coolidge Elementary school in Peoria, Illinois. Berg married Elliot Abrons in 1964, and the following year graduated from the University of Iowa with a nursing degree. She had five children, Debra in 1968, Lisa in 1970, Nina in 1974, Ron in 1977, and David in 1979. Abrons earned a Master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Boston in 1992 and went on to earn a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Higher Education.

Ruth Maxine Berg Waldman was born in 1950 in Peoria, Illinois to Norman Berg and Hannah Scheer Berg. She attended Elgin Academy and graduated in 1969. Berg married Joel Waldman in 1973. She later graduated from Florida International University in 1974. Waldman worked in a brokerage house following graduation. In 1975, Ruth Waldman died of cystic fibrosis related complications while living in Florida.

Extent

7.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Overview

Letters, photographs, and papers of an extended Jewish family that emigrated from Russia to Iowa in the nineteenth century.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1516) were donated by Jeanne Abrons in 2016 and subsequent years with an addition from Linda Rosholt.

Related Materials

Ohsman Berg family papers, Iowa Women’s Archives

University of Iowa Special Collections Szathmary Collection [Description: Gift; Hannah P. Berg; 2012] C.F. cookery: recipes and information (RC858.C95 S95 1970) The low fat diet cook book (RM237.7 .H55 1952) The American Heart Association Cookbook (RC684.D5 E84 1975) Joy of cooking (TX715 .R75 1974a) Salt, the brand name guide to sodium content (TX553.S65 J33 1983) The grand performer: presenting Knox Unflavored Gelatine (TX814.5.G4 G72 1982) Better Homes & Gardens cook book: every recipe tasted in Better Homes & Garden’s Tasting-Test Kitchen. Better Homes and Garden. (TX715 .B487 1942)
Author
Heidi Parker, 2019
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

Contact:
100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5068
319-335-5900 (Fax)