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Berry Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-4239

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters primarily written to and by members of the Berry family of Newnan, Coweta County, Georgia. Many of the letters were addressed to Joel Berry from his father, Judge Andrew Berry; his brothers Thomas and William Berry; and other individuals. Several letters were sent to Joel while he was at Georgetown College in Washington, DC, in the late 1850s, and discuss subjects such as cotton crops and town news. One such letter from William, in March 1858, relates a criminal case in which a local man was tried--and acquitted--for killing a slave. Correspondence written after the US Civil War documents the family’s growing debt and inability to secure labor on their plantations. There are also three letters from a James Berry, including one from 1820 in which James applies to be an overseer; along with items recording the deaths of Thomas and Joel Berry; and a file of 1869 correspondence with Georgia official A. J. Bell concerning Andrew Berry’s responsibility to return his “wild lands” to the state. The collection includes legal and financial documents related to Berry family members.


  • 1820-1882

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections.

For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

Andrew Jay Berry (1798-1883) was born in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1827, he moved from South Carolina to Coweta County, Georgia, where he was a judge and founder of the town of Newnan. Andrew married Eliza Emely Parks (1809-1857) in 1830. They had at least four children: William, Thomas, Joel, and Edwin (1845-1855). The family owned plantations and slaves; and William, Thomas, and Joel all fought as Confederate soldiers during the US Civil War. William Bird Berry (1831-1902) was a bank president, mayor of Newnan, and president of the Atlanta and West Point Railroad. William died at age 71. Thomas James Berry (1835-1865) graduated from West Point Military Academy, New York, in 1857. After serving in the US military, he fought with the Confederate 60th Georgia Infantry Regiment from 1861-January 1865. Thomas died in October 1865. Joel Welcome Berry (1840-1869) attended Georgetown College in Washington, DC, before enlisting in the Confederate Army in 1861. Joel died in New York City at age 28. The Berry family members are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Newnan, Georgia. (Source: Berry family census, school, and military records, tombstone inscriptions, and other information accessed through


0.2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Berrys were a plantation- and slave-owning family from Coweta County, Georgia. This collection contains correspondence and other materials related to several Berry family members, particularly Judge Andrew J. Berry (1798-1883) and his sons William, Thomas, and Joel Berry. Materials document the family’s economic situation both before and after the US Civil War (1861-1865).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The University of Alabama Libraries acquired the Berry Family Papers in 2018.

Processing Information

Processed by Erin Ryan, October 2018.
Guide to the Berry Family Papers
Erin Ryan
April 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266