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Bill Berry

William D. Berry Papers, 1941 – 1999

Bill Berry moose drawing with notesThe William D. Berry Papers at the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library’s Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives contain hundreds of sketches, paintings, journals and photographs. The collection was donated by Bill’s widow after his untimely death in 1979. Working closely with sons Mark and Paul and artist Todd Sherman (a long-time family friend), the collection is an invaluable resource for artists, biologists and other researchers.




Drawing Guides, William D. Berry

Book cover for Guides to Drawing by William D. Berry

Drawing Guides, William D. Berry, brings back to life a series of guides Bill produced for students in his figure and animal drawing classes in the1960s and 1970s. The subjects are Alaskan, because, as he wrote in a letter (1976), “… I chose subjects that are available to most Alaskans.”

The book includes full-color reproductions of the full suite of 12 drawing guides, plus Bill’s notes, eight other drawings, sketches and paintings and a foreword by artist, professor of art and Dean of the UAF College of Liberal Arts Todd Sherman.

Dimensions: 11” x 15”
Pages: 28
ISBN: 978-0-692-37794-9
Price: $25.00

The book is available at Rasmuson Library or through the Alaska History Store website

Proceeds go to helping preserve the William D. Berry Papers at the UAF Rasmuson Library Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives.

William D. Berry

Bill BerryWilliam D. “Bill” Berry first came to Alaska in 1954 when, like many Alaskans, he was visiting just for the summer. He and his wife, Elizabeth, “Liz,” were invited by legendary environmentalists Ginny and Morton Wood to work at Camp Denali, their new lodge just outside the northern border of Denali National Park. The drive north from California, where Bill was curator of the California Junior Museum, was an inspiring introduction to the North and they arrived at Camp Denali having already produced a collection of field sketches. That fall they were offered to cabin-sit “Dogpatch,” the Woods’ place in Fairbanks where they spent their first interior winter, not returning south until fall of 1955 after the summer season at Camp ended. In 1961 they moved permanently to Alaska residing at Deneki Lakes near the entrance of then McKinley National Park. Bill and Liz never looked back, moving to Fairbanks in 1967 with sons Mark and Paul.

Bill picked up a pencil to draw very early in life, and by age three had “published” his first book (about slugs; it resides in the Berry Papers). During his school years he illustrated books and produced murals and cartoons—always with an eye toward the natural world. In 1943 he enrolled in the Art Center in Los Angeles. Less than a year later he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served three years, part of that as the cartoonist for the Army’s Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes newspaper. Back in California, he studied for three years at the School of Allied Arts.

Throughout Bill’s career, he produced images and book material for such organizations as the National Audubon Society, for which he made 50 mammal paintings, and Yosemite National Park, where he illustrated Fran Hubbard’s books Animal Friends of the Sierra and Animal Friends of the Northwest. He also wrote and illustrated two books: Buffalo Land and Deneki. Bill Berry painted, drew and taught until his death in 1979. One of his great works was a large mural in the Berry Room, the children’s area in the Noel Wien Public Library in Fairbanks, Alaska. (Trina Shart Hyman, a Caldecott award-winning artist, completed the mural in 1980.)

—“William D. Berry, 1954-1956, Alaskan Field Sketches," University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1989.

This page was last modified on February 9, 2015