FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 20, 2012) — Widely acclaimed Kentucky author Wendell E. Berry, who has been called a “prophet of rural America” in The New York Times, has donated his writings, research materials and incoming correspondence to the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS). These materials are being processed and will be made available to researchers by Nov. 1.
A native of Henry County, Berry is a prolific author of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and is well known for his commitment to protecting the environment. He has taught at numerous universities, including the University of Kentucky, Stanford University, Georgetown College, the University of Cincinnati, New York University and Bucknell University.
Berry donated approximately 75 boxes of materials to KHS. These materials include his writings, both those that resulted in publications and those that did not; as well as his research materials and incoming correspondence. The documents cover literary and cause-oriented topics.
In explaining his choice of a repository, Berry cited the late Kentucky historian Dr. Thomas D. Clark, for whom the Center for Kentucky History is named.
“I wanted to keep the papers in Kentucky because I am a Kentuckian, and I selected KHS for two reasons: First, it is handy to me, and second, because I know that the historical society was a favorite project of Dr. Clark, who was my teacher and my friend,” Berry said. “I wanted to honor him and his contribution.”
As part of the deed of gift to KHS, Berry restricted access to his personal writings during his lifetime. Researchers seeking access to Berry’s writings must request approval from the author. All other materials, including incoming correspondence and research materials, will be accessible to the public once they have been cataloged by KHS archivists.
“KHS is honored to have been approached by Mr. Berry to serve as the official repository for his documents,” said Kent Whitworth, KHS executive director. “It is a privilege that KHS takes seriously. We will conserve these materials for future generations and make them available for researchers as quickly as possible.”