Guide to E. Y. Berry Congressional Papers at the Leland D. Case Library of Western Historical Studies

Descriptive Summary

Creator: E. Y. (Ellis Yarnal) Berry
Title: E. Y. Berry Congressional Papers
Dates: 1951-1971
Quantity: 576 box(es) (288 linear feet)
Collection ID: MSS148
Repository: Leland D. Case Library of Western Historical Studies
E.Y. Berry Library-Learning Center
Black Hills State University
Spearfish, SD 57799

Biographical Note

E. Y. (Ellis Yarnal) Berry served as Congressman for West River South Dakota from 1951-1971. During his tenure in the U. S. Congress he served on the House Interior and Insular committee as well as the Foreign Affairs committee. He worked to pass legislation to help farmers and the betterment of conditions for Native Americans.

He was born in in Larchwood, Iowa, October 6, 1902. His family later moved to Philip, South Dakota where they operated a dairy. Berry graduated from Philip High School in 1919. In 1927 he graduated from the University of South Dakota Law School. He married country school teacher, Rose Hartinger on March 4th, 1928. The couple moved to Mobridge and Berry established his law practice. He was elected to the South Dakota Legislature in 1938 and 1940 representing Carson, Dewey, and Ziebach Counties. In 1944 he was appointed by M. Q. Sharpe to the Missouri River States Committee to plan construction of dams after WWII. He also served on the South Dakota Board of Regents for four of years, as well as States Attorney, County Judge, City Mayor, and County Chairman of the Republican Party. He purchased the McLaughlin Messenger in 1936 and added newspaper editor to his long list of accomplishments.

In 1950 when Francis Case announced his intention to run for the United States Senate, E. Y. Berry decided he would run to fill the seat in the House of Representatives vacated by Francis Case. He served for 20 years. Upon his retirement from Congress in 1971, he and his wife returned to their Black Hills home in Hisega and he donated his Congressional Papers to the library at Black Hills State College, now Black Hills State University. He and Rose lived in Hisega until 1993 when they moved to Westhills Village Retirement Home in Rapid City. He died April 1, 1999. Rose preceded him in death by two months. They are buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Rapid City, SD.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, research files, government publications, photographs, and ephemera from Berry's 20 years as Congressman from South Dakota's 2nd District, 1951-1971. Materials cover a vast array of topics pertinent to life in South Dakota and the United States during the mid-twentieth century. Some of those topics are: Agriculture, Military, Atomic Energy, Uranium, Minute Man Missiles, Natural Resources, the Missouri River, Oahe Dam, Jewel Cave National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark, and the Forest Service. The "Indian" series contains extensive correspondence with Berry's Native American constituent, particularly those living on South Dakota Reservations. The collection provides an intense look at the issues of that time.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the Black Hills State Teachers College (now Black Hills State University) Library by E. Y. Berry in 1971.

Preferred Citation

E. Y. Berry Congressional Papers, Leland D. Case Western Historical Studies, Black Hills State University

Processing Information

Preliminary inventory completed in 1971. Folder level inventory created in the late 1970s. Some files are described in greater detail than others due to Historiography class assignments. Further processing and description to be completed.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Due to the large size of this collection a database was created in Microsoft office. Database entries contain the folder title and when available types of materials in the collection and dates. The Database can be searched at:

Finding aids for each collection series may be accessed by clicking on the linked series name below.

Series I. Departmental

Boxes 1-113, materials filed by department and chronologically.

Series II. Indian

Boxes 114-257, materials filed alphabetically by topic or surname.

Series III. Jobs

Boxes, 258-264, series contains correspondence filed alphabetically.

Series IV. Legislation

Boxes 265-381, series is in two file sequences, first chronologically by Congress number and legislation. The second sequence is filed first alphabetically by topic then chronologically.

Series V. Military Academy Appointments

Boxes 382-397, personal files contain applications for Military Academies. For personal privacy these files are closed until 2045.

Series VI. Miscellaneous

Boxes 398-413, materials filed alphabetically and then chronologically. A few files have topical names, most files are only labeled with letter of the alphabet.

Series VII. Post Offices

Boxes 414-430, contains correspondence concerning the appointment of postmasters in a given town.

Series VIII. Public Relations

Boxes 431-501, series contains campaign materials, scripts for speeches, voting record, general newsletters from E. Y. Berry and newsletters directed at specific constituent groups. Series arranged chronologically.

Series IX. Reference Materials

Boxes 502-517, materials filed alphabetically by topic.

Series X. Special

Boxes 518-576, series contains topical material arranged alphabetically. This series contains the broadest array of South Dakota topics.