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Jerome C. Berrigan papers

Identifier: MSS0005

Scope and Contents

The Jerome C. Berrigan Papers documents the life and career of Jerome “Jerry” Berrigan as well as the materials he collected as the Berrigan family historian. Biographical materials about Jerry include newspaper articles, academic records, speeches and essays, personal bibles, correspondence and documents about his career as an educator, and articles and writings by and about his wife and children. Jerry’s speeches span the dates 1957 to 2008 and address educational, civil rights, war-related, and nuclear issues. Correspondence sent to Jerry and Carol from his brothers Dan, Phil, and Phil’s wife Liz from 1973 to 2009 record the Berrigan family’s personal lives as well as their activities in the peace movement. Subject correspondence shows Jerry’s relationship with friends, colleagues, and prominent peace activists. As family historian, Jerry either inherited or was given the writings, correspondence, and photographs of various Berrigan family members, including those of his brothers and his parents. These materials are found in the Family Files series and the Photographs series. Due to Jerry and his brothers’ involvement in the peace movement, the Jerome C. Berrigan papers contain articles and legal documents for protests in which Jerry participated, materials on general protests and Plowshares actions, and photographs of the Catonsville Nine and Pentagon protests. The oversize series contains posters, calendars, newspaper articles, and artwork regarding the activities of Dan and Phil. Articles and other materials about specific individuals not in correspondence with Jerry are found in the People Files.


  • Creation: 1886-2011
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1970-2003


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

Jerome "Jerry" Berrigan was a teacher and activist focused on peace and social justice from the 1960s to 2000s. Jerry was born on December 20, 1919, the fourth son of Thomas Berrigan, radical socialist and labor organizer, and Frida Fromhardt, a German immigrant. Tom and Frida were devout Catholics who read America, Commonweal, and Catholic Worker publications. In 1926, the Berrigan family moved to Syracuse, New York. Jerry graduated from high school in 1937.

From 1941 to 1945 Jerry served in the U.S. Army. Serving for three years overseas, Jerry became a staff sergeant and was responsible for squadron technical and equipment supply, the teaching of young and inexperienced personnel, and public relations and liaison work between enlisted men and commissioned officers. Jerry entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in 1950. After completing his undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Theology in 1954, Jerry attended graduate school at Le Moyne College to study English. He attended Le Moyne from 1954 to 1955 and then Canisius College from 1955 to 1957, where he studied English education. While a grad student at Canisius, Jerry taught American History at Canisius College Preparatory School in Buffalo, New York.

On September 10, 1955, Jerry married Carol Rizzo. They have four children, Philip (b. 1959), Maria (b. 1963), Jerome Jr. (b. 1964), and Carla (b. 1965), all of whom were adopted as infants.

After receiving his teaching degree, Jerry worked in the Syracuse public school system from 1957 to 1967. After receiving his PhD in 1967 from Syracuse University, he began teaching at Onondaga Community College in 1968. He worked at Onondaga for over thirty years, retiring in 2002. Jerry’s commitment to community outreach is exemplified by his volunteer teaching at Loretto Geriatric Center and support for Unity Acres, a center for homeless men in central New York.

During the 1960s, Jerry’s growing social consciousness led him to engage with issues of peace and social justice. Jerry worked with a volunteer committee to desegregate schools in the Syracuse school district, protested with Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) for equality in employment and mortgage acquisition, co-founded an agency that provided housing for minorities, and participated in protests against Alabama’s statutes protecting social integration. He attended marches in Selma and Montgomery demanding civil rights for African Americans.

In the latter half of the 1960s, Jerry began to protest the Vietnam War. He gave presentations on non-violence throughout New York and participated in vigils and protests. In May 1968, Jerry’s brothers Dan and Phil participated in the Catonsville Nine peace action, where they destroyed draft cards with homemade napalm. Jerry was supportive of his brothers’ peace efforts, keeping in constant correspondence with Dan and Phil as they served their jail sentences.

Jerry was committed to raising his family and decided not to participate in the early and well publicized protests with Dan and Phil, but by the mid-1970s he began frequently engaging in peace actions at the White House and the Pentagon. He participated in yearly prayers and demonstrations in honor of Feast of the Holy Innocents beginning in 1977. Since the 1970s, he had protested at the Air and Space Museum, Griffiss Air Force Base in New York, the Seneca Army Depot, and the Federal Building in Syracuse. He participated in peace actions to protest the School of Americas, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and nuclear weapons, among other social issues in the United States and abroad.

Jerry supported his brothers Dan and Phil and stood alongside them in their protesting efforts. Like his brothers, he was guided by his Catholic faith and social conscience. Although his peace efforts are less well known than those of his brothers, Jerry’s commitment to his family, his community, and society’s contentious issues makes him a powerful force in the struggle for peace and justice. Jerry passed away July 26, 2015 at his home in Syracuse, New York.


12.33 Linear Feet (27 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Jerome C. Berrigan Papers are arranged into 8 series: 1. Biographical Files; 2. Correspondence; 3. Family Files; 4. Peace Actions; 5. Photographs; 6. Oversize; 7. People Files; 8. May 2011 Addition.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession 2001.20; 2004.02; 2005.01; 2009.19; 2011.09

Related Materials

Philip Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister papers; Daniel Berrigan papers; Berrigan Library; Elmer Maas Plowshares collection; Rev. John McNamee papers; Murray Polner papers; Collection on Peace Activism; Hit & Stay (documentary) SpC. 959.7043 H674t2014

Processing Information

K. Laroche 2002; K. Laroche 2004; K. Causier 2005; H. Fedchak 2009; revised by C. Faison 2013; revised by P. Chavez 2018

Guide to Jerome C. Berrigan papers
K. Laroche 2002; K. Laroche 2004; K. Causier 2005; H. Fedchak 2009; revised by C. Faison 2013; revised by P. Chavez 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the DePaul Special Collections and Archives Repository

John T. Richardson Library
2350 N. Kenmore Ave.
Room 314
Chicago Illinois 60614