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Jean Berry papers

Identifier: IWA0297

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Scope and Contents

The Jean Berry papers date from 1989 to 1996 and measure 4 linear inches. The papers are divided into 6 series: Biographical Information, Professional Career, Publications, Correspondence, Fine Art Print, and Photographs. These papers document Berry's life as an artist whose focus is African-American culture in the United States.

The Biographical Information series contains narrative biographies about Jean Berry. Background material and listings of exhibitions, awards, and associations are included, as well as a video containing a segment about Berry from Videoscan's Show #1: "African American Artists in Iowa", (1993).

The Professional Career series (1989-1995) comprises the bulk of the collection. It chronicles the exhibitions of which Berry was a part. Flyers and pamphlets from the exhibitions and newspaper clippings are included.

The Publications series (1990-1996) contains publications to which Berry contributed and publications containing articles about her. A book, Mediated Messages and African-American Culture (1996), for which Jean Berry contributed cover art, was co-edited by her daughter, Venise T. Berry, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Iowa, and is shelved in the printed works collection.

The Correspondence series (1990-1996) contains professional correspondence concerning exhibitions. Correspondence with patrons is also included.

The Fine Art Print, "Mary Louise" was created by Berry in honor of Mary Louise Smith, former chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, for the 100th anniversary of the YWCA of Greater Des Moines.

The Photographs series contains photographs of Berry's exhibits and photographic images of particular artworks by her.


  • Creation: 1989-2000


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.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Jeanette (Jean) Berry, artist, was born August 22, 1938, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and was raised in Kansas City, Missouri. She married early in life and had three children. Berry began studying art as a teenager and took instruction in art at the Kansas City Art Institute. Berry then moved to Des Moines, Iowa, and received an Associate of Arts degree from Des Moines Area Community College in 1980. She trained with artists Chancey Rosenbaum and Brenda Jones. The death of her youngest child, Toni, was a watershed for Berry, after which she threw [herself] into [her] art to fill the void.

In spring 1987, she enrolled as a student of art at Drake University in Des Moines. There she completed a B.F.A. in May 1989. Berry's work was exhibited regionally and nationally after she received her degree and was included in a Smithsonian Institution exhibition. In 1989, she won the Fourth Annual King Celebration Art Award. Berry works predominantly in charcoal and paper, focusing primarily on depicting African Americans.


4.00 linear inches

2 videocassettes (2 videocassettes [V132 and V408])

Photographs in Box 1 boxes

Language of Materials



Des Moines-based artist.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 407) were donated by Jean Berry in 1997.

Related Materials

Venise T. Berry papers (IWA): Venise Berry is the daughter of Jean Berry.

James Zachary Henshaw, 1997.
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

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