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SUB-GROUP Identifier: RG M-DE01

George Packer Berry records, 1941-1968 (inclusive), 1941-1968 (inclusive)

Scope and Content

The records of the Office of the Dean are the product of the activities of the Dean of Harvard Medical School, during the years 1949-1965 under the tenure of George Packer Berry. Included are records from the administrative activities of the Office of the Dean, as well as records related to the Dean's involvement in outside professional and governmental groups. Also included are records resulting from the activities of standing and ad hoc committees at Harvard Medical School, as well as records of the Dean's schedules and appointments. The records also reflect interactions of the Office of the Dean with Harvard University offices, departments, and organizations.

Records are entirely in English.


  • Creation: 1941-1968 (inclusive)

Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Some restrictions apply (see below).

Access requires advance notice. Contact Public Services for further information.

Access to Harvard University records is restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions appear in Series 00154 Executive Administrative Files. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.


75.4 cubic feet (74 records center cartons, 1 legal size document box, 3 clamshell boxes)

Historical Note on the Tenure of Dean George Packer Berry at Harvard Medical School, 1949-1965

George Packer Berry (1898-1986) was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard Medical School from 1949 to 1965 following the term of Charles Sidney Burwell (1893-1967). Berry came to Harvard Medical School from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, where he served as Head of the Department of Bacteriology and Associate Dean. Prior to his tenure at the University of Rochester, Berry was an associate at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York, New York.

As Dean, Berry oversaw the development of the Harvard Medical Center in 1956, which brought Harvard Medical School and its affiliated teaching hospitals together under one corporate organization and also served as the Center's first president. The Program for Harvard Medicine was created in 1960 to raise funds for Harvard Medical School and as a result of Berry's efforts, the institution's endowment more than doubled during his tenure. Berry focused his administrative efforts on creating a balance between teaching, research, and patient care and worked to strengthen the faculty of the medical school through the recruitment of distinguished investigators. This focus resulted in the creation of new professorships in clinical medicine and the medical sciences, and the establishment of over twenty-six named chairs during his tenure. In addition, Berry oversaw the development and construction of the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine on the Harvard Medical School campus.

Aside from his duties at Harvard Medical School during his tenure as dean, Berry worked to improve the quality of medical education while serving as President of the Association of American Medical Colleges from 1951-1952 and earning the Association's Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education in 1961. Berry was also a trustee of both the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon and Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. He served on numerous professional committees, including the President's Committee on Education Beyond High School, the Medical School Advisory Committee of Dartmouth College, the Committee on Medical Education of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and the Advisory Council on Education of the Veteran's Administration. Additionally, Berry served as director of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, the Louis T. Wright Memorial Foundation, and the Commonwealth Fund; as president of the James Packer Association; on the Medical School Grants Advisory Committee of the Ford Foundation; and as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Biographical Note on George Packer Berry

George Packer Berry (1898-1986), A.B., Princeton University, M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was born in Troy, New York on December 29, 1898 to the Rev. George Titus Berry and Caroline Packer Berry. He attended The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and after earning his M.D., he interned at Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane, Middletown; trained at Bellevue Hospital, New York, New York; and completed his post-doctoral training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, 1927-1929. Berry also served as an instructor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, during this time.

From 1929 to 1932 Berry was an assistant, and later an associate, at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York. Berry came to the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1932, serving as Professor of Bacteriology and Head of the Department of Bacteriology. In 1942 Berry was named Assistant Dean and in 1947, Associate Dean. Harvard University President James Conant (1893-1978) appointed Berry Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Professor of Bacteriology at Harvard Medical School in 1949. During World War II, Berry served with the United States Naval Reserve and was present during the atomic bomb tests on Bikini Atoll in 1946. He also consulted with the United States military about medical education.

Berry's early research focused on the mechanisms of viral infections, including psittacosis, yellow fever, and western equine encephalomyelitis. While working with the psittacosis virus Berry contracted parrot fever, the disease caused by the virus, and the effects of the subsequent infection lingered with him for two years. An additional research interest included viruses involved in the causation of cancer, and Berry was the first to demonstrate that a virus causing one disease can change to a virus causing a related but different disease.

After stepping down as dean at Harvard Medical School, Berry returned to Princeton University, where he served as a trustee and an advisor to the biology department. He also served as a trustee of the American University of Beirut. Berry continued to serve on national committees related to health and medical research and was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, including honorary S.D. degrees from Harvard University, Union College, Princeton University, New York University, and the University of Rochester. In 1969 Berry married Mariana Wilkinson; his first wife, Elizabeth Duncan died in 1926 from a streptococcal infection due to a complication of measles. He had one daughter, two stepchildren, and three grandchildren. Berry died in 1986 after a long illness.

Series and Subseries in the Subgroup

  1. I. Executive Administrative Files (Series 00154)
  2. II. Committee Records (Series 00155)
  3. III. Intra-Institutional Relations Records (Series 00156)
  4. IV. Scheduling Materials (Series 00202)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

  1. Accession number 2015-020.

Related Collections in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine

  1. Records of the Office of the Dean. RG M-DE01.
  2. Records of the Associate Dean for Financial Affairs Henry Coe Meadow. ACC. 2012-090 (Series 00394).
  3. Office of the Dean subject files. RG M-DE01 Series 00267.

Processing Information

Processed by Bryan Sutherland, 2017 April.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access. To enhance preservation, processing staff re-housed the collection and, where necessary, items were removed from three ring binders and documents were photocopied onto acid-free paper. Duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine were discarded. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals

Repository Details

Part of the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) Repository

The Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is one of the world's leading resources for the study of the history of health and medicine. Our mission is to enable the history of medicine and public health to inform healthcare, the health sciences, and the societies in which they are embedded.

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