By Angela McCavera, Bloomsburg University
In my first few weeks as an editor working with MBDA, I have found that many of the letters are similar: Martha Berry thanking someone for a donation, one of her friends thanking her for a gift, or an invitation from Martha Berry to a friend to come visit the Berry Schools. Although many of these letters are interesting, they are not my favorites to read because the subject matter can be a little repetitive. My favorite letters are those written by Martha Berry’s friends when they are thinking of her. I like the value Miss Berry places on friendship, and reading letters which illustrate her close bonds with others is refreshing.
In my recent work with the many documents there are to edit, I discovered a letter from L.L.C. (probably Leila Laughlin Carlisle) to Martha Berry. L.L.C. wrote while on safari in Tanganyika, South Africa. The letter details the amazing events of the trip, some of which include: the “rough camp,” rhinoceros encounters, seeing antelope and zebras, and the nightly visits by “four full grown lion.” I just loved that the time was made to send a lengthy and detailed letter from so far away, and I loved the descriptions given. To me, this shows how much of an impact Martha Berry made on the people she encountered.
Many individuals wrote letters to Martha Berry just to detail events of their trips, but this letter was the most extraordinary I have encountered, and it was surely among those which traveled farthest to reach her!
I really feel passionately about how many great bonds Miss Berry formed through her work. I’m learning that it was through these bonds that she was able to continue to do the work that she did, despite the most difficult challenges. It is always nice to see how appreciated and loved she was, and it is amazing in reading letters like this one to have an opportunity to travel across time and across the globe to South Africa.