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Special Collections Receives Berman Papers

On behalf of the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, Nancy Berman, the foundationís director, has made a gift to Lehigh

Phil and Muriel Berman

Philip and Muriel Berman Papers
Lehigh University Special Collections

 University Special Collections of the papers of her late parents, Phil and Muriel Berman. Nancy Berman is a member of Lehighís Board of Trustees and museum director emeritus of the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where she is also on the boards of several organizations devoted to arts and culture. Phil and Muriel Berman were philanthropists and patrons of the arts for more than 50 years. Their collected papers, which include extensive photographic materials, represent the Bermansí business, civic, and cultural activities locally, nationally and internationally.

As a result of the Bermansí active role as collectors and art patrons, the papers include correspondence with major twentieth century artists, such as sculptor Henry Moore. Other papers relate to the Bermansí various business interests, such as their 18 trucking companies, Allen Electric Company, Leader Nursing Homes Corporation, and the Hess Department Stores, Inc. After the Bermans purchased Hess's from Max Hess in 1968, the store was expanded from its flagship location in downtown Allentown to a chain of 38 stores throughout several states.

Another part of the collection features a large photographic archive of major outdoor sculptures documented by the Bermans during their extensive travels throughout the world. The late Philip Bermanís travel journals, enjoyed by many friends, are also among the papers.

The Bermans' civic and philanthropic activities are also represented in the collection. These include the Muriel and Philip Berman National Medical Library in Hadassah Hospital at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Philip and Muriel Berman Art Museum at Ursinus College, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Philip Berman was named chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1989. Both Philip and Muriel Berman were active in promoting public television at many levels and involved in numerous other causes.

At Lehigh, the Bermans established the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies and an annual lecture series in economics. The many outdoor sculptures donated by the Bermans are prominently displayed throughout the campus, including in the Muriel and Philip Berman Sculpture Garden adjacent to the Fairchild Martindale Library. Lehigh awarded honorary doctorate of humane letters degrees to Philip (1969), Muriel (1991) and Nancy (1997) Berman.

The papers can be accessed through Library and Technology Services Special Collections. For more information, please contact Christine Roysdon, Director of Library Systems and Collections, at 610-758-3049.

--Susan A. Cady
  LTS Director for Administrative and Planning Services

Article posted January 2006

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