Berry College: Building Upon a Miracle
The story of Berry College is about dreams and the fulfillment of dreams. Resting on the solid humanitarian vision of Martha Berry, a woman of enormous energy and foresight, Berry had its earliest beginnings one Sunday afternoon in the 1890s, when Miss Berry first read to three young boys from nearby Lavendar Mountain. Enchanted by the bright boys, but recognizing, too, their enormous need and desire to learn, she invited them back the next week. The impromptu school held on the grounds of the Berry family home near Rome, Georgia, quickly attracted more pupils, and week by week Miss Berry's dream of helping the mountain children took shape.
By about 1900, Miss Berry was operating four six-month day schools for mountain children, and in 1902 she established a boarding school for boys. In 1909 she admitted girls as well. Seeing the need for college-educated people in the region, she founded a junior college in 1926 and in 1930 instituted the full four-year program of Berry College, incorporating into the institution of higher learning the three fold mission that had guided all her endeavors: the education of the head, heart, and hands.
Berry College has grown and prospered over the years. Today some 1,800 students pursue both graduate and undergraduate degrees at the institution whose extensive land holdings-28,000 acres-make it one of the largest and most beautiful contiguous campuses in America. Early praise for Martha Berry's work form figures such as Henry Ford, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson is echoed today in the widespread national recognition of the academic excellence of Berry College. Now consistently included in lists of the best colleges in America, the college is not only the fulfillment of Martha Berry's dream: it is also an instrument making possible the fulfillment of the dreams of the many young people who learn, work, and worship for a time within its boundaries.