Mary Frances Berry Receives 2014 Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award

May 2, 2014

For her lifetime effort to bring her training as a historian to public service, Professor of History Mary Frances Berry has received the 2014 Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award. The award is given annually by the Organization of American Historians to an individual or individuals whose contributions have significantly enriched our understanding and appreciation of American history. The award was presented at the OAH annual meeting last month in Atlanta. 

The author of ten books and numerous articles that explore various aspects of legal history from the perspective of gender and race, Berry has been recognized with 35 honorary degrees from American universities. She served as OAH president from 1990-1991. She joined the Penn faculty in 1987.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Berry to the United States Commission on Civil Rights and 13 years later she was named chair by President Bill Clinton. During her 25-year tenure, the Commission emerged as a visible protector of minority rights, creating significant reports on issues ranging from environmental justice and affirmative action to conditions on Native American reservations. Berry earned a reputation as a courageous advocate on behalf of politically unpopular causes and as an independent thinker who vastly expanded the commission’s mandate.

Founded in 1907, the OAH is the largest learned society and professional organization dedicated to the teaching and study of the American past. Members include college and university professors, students, teachers, archivists, museum curators and other public historians employed in government and the private sector.