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Berklee Office of Public Information collection by Alma Berk, 1934-2007

Identifier: BCA-013

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of materials collected and organized by Alma Berk during her tenure as Chief Public Affairs Officer (1959-1994). As the founder of Berklee's Office of Public Information, Mrs. Berk's files remain the most comprehensive source of known documentation of the college's early years and encompass a broad range of information, including press clippings & releases, institutional reports, files on faculty and students, promotional materials, college publications, and more. Though Alma Berk retired in 1994, this collection contains documentation on Berklee through the mid-2000s.


  • 1934-2007


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research by appointment, however some series are restricted and require advance approval by the Berklee Archives' Associate Director--see series descriptions for more information. Audiovisual recordings have not been transferred. Patrons may view an item’s original container and/or carrier, but the original recordings are not available for playback due to preservation concerns. Patrons may request access to viewing/listening copies via onsite appointment, however recordings on obsolete formats may not be available. Advance notice is required for access because materials are stored offsite. Contact Archives staff for further information.

Biographical Note

Alma Berk (1912-1995) established Berklee's Office of Public Information in 1959 and served as Chief Public Affairs Officer until her retirement in 1994. Mrs. Berk's husband, Lawrence Berk, founded Berklee in 1945 and their son Lee Berk served as the college's second president from 1979-2004. As publicity officer, Mrs. Berk's tenure encompassed the college's beginnings as the Schillinger House, its rebranding as the Berklee School of Music, and the transition to Berklee College of Music, as it is known today. The files, photographs, and other ephemera she collected remain the most comprehensive documentation on the college's early history.


129 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into 15 series.

Series 1: Berklee Affiliates

This series contains files on Berklee students, staff, alumni, and affiliates and includes newspaper clippings, photos, and reference sheets. For honorary degree recipients who did not attend or teach at Berklee, please see Series 3, Subseries 1: Honorary Degree Recipients. The Berklee Affiliates series is arranged alphabetically by last name.

Series 2: Photographs

The photographs series contains several hundred photos of Berklee events, students, and faculty from Berklee's earliest years as Schillinger House through the mid-2000s. This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series 3: Commencement

The commencement series contains materials from commencement ceremonies and concerts. Within this series, there is one subseries, Honorary Degree Recipients. This subseries contains files related to Berklee's various honorary degree recipients. Recipients who did not attend or teach at Berklee can be found in this subseries, while the rest will be found in Series 1: Berklee Affiliates. The Commencement series is arranged chronologically, while the Honorary Degree Recipients subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Series 4: Berklee 50th Anniversary

Materials in this series relate to the research, planning, and execution of Berklee College of Music's 50th anniversary events, including the book Berklee: The First Fifty Years. The 50th Anniversary series is arranged chronologically.

Series 5: Press Clippings and Articles

This series contains newspaper clippings on Berklee students, staff, alumni, and the college in general. Of note in this series are materials relating to Schillinger House. Most of the clippings in this series come from non-Berklee publications. For Berklee-created publications and newsletters, see Series 9: Berklee Publications. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 6: Berklee Events

This series contains materials relating to a wide variety of Berklee events, from on-campus performances to ensembles, to annual Berklee trips to Nashville, Puerto Rico, and Los Angeles. Within this series, there is a subseries dedicated to the Visiting Artist Series at Berklee, including files about visits by noteworthy musicians such as Chick Corea and Toshiko Akiyoshi. The Events series is arranged alphabetically, while the Visiting Artist subseries is arranged chronologically.

Series 7: Course Materials

The Course Materials series contains workbooks, texts, and materials for Berklee courses such as basic counterpoint, ear training, and harmony. This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series 8: Correspondence

The Correspondence series contains correspondence of several different types, including official Berklee correspondence with international embassies, personal correspondence, and memos relating to convocations. This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series 9: Scholarships

The Scholarships series contains materials relating to Berklee scholarships. Of particular note are the files on People to People, an international program created by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower that brought many foreign students to Berklee in its early years, and the Jazz Masters scholarships, which are scholarships aimed at upper-semester students and named for greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Stephane Grappelli. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 10: Berklee Publications

This series contains publications put out by Berklee, including alumni newsletters, newsletters sent to parents, and internal newsletters. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 11: Berklee Departments

This series contains materials related to various departments within Berklee. These files include both academic departments, such as Music Production and Engineering and Film Scoring, and non-academic departments, like the Learning Center and Housing. This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series 12: Administrative Materials

This series contains materials such as institutional reports, program planning, student handbooks, and Schillinger House materials. The Administrative Materials series is arranged chronologically.

Series 13: Miscellaneous

This series contains items that do not fit into any other series in the collection, such as lists of jazz journalists and files on other music institutions. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series 14: Audiovisual Materials

Formats in this series include VHS, CD, audiocassette, digital audio tape, and acetate records. Notably, this series includes recordings of early Schillinger House commercials and concerts

Series 15: Awards and Ephemera

This series contains objects such as awards presented to Berklee and Berklee-branded ephemera. This series is arranged chronologically.


Boxes 122-129 represent a 2021 accrual. Most of this accrual comprises objects and paper files transferred to the Archives during the presidential transition of summer 2021, having been retained for several decades in the Office of the President; addtional items added to the collection at this time represent one-off items/folders deposited by staff members over the years.

Related Materials

The Berklee Office of Public Information collection by Alma Berk contains a large part of Berklee's history through the early 2000s. For Berklee-related press clippings and articles, see BCA--022, Rob Hayes collection of Berklee College of Music External Affairs materials, 1995-2013; and BCA-045, Berklee College of Music Media Relations records, 1969-2017.

Berklee Office of Public Information collection by Alma Berk, 1934-2007
Amanda Axel with Sofía Becerra-Licha (2017); revisions by Ashley Gray (2021-2022)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
The processing of this collection and the creation of this finding aid were completed with support from a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Revision Statements

  • 2022/09/23: Revised by Ashley Gray (Processing Archivist) to reflect reassignment of selected audiovisual materials to another collection
  • 2021/10: Revised by Ashley Gray (Processing Archivist) to incorporate recent accruals
  • 2017/09: Collection reprocessed by Amanda Axel (Processing Archivist)

Repository Details

Part of the Berklee Archives Repository

Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston St
Boston MA 02215 USA