By Olivia Mund
One letter in the Martha Berry Digital Archive’s database that captured my attention during recent editing was from Martha Berry to Mr. and Mrs. J. Howard Keep. In the letter Martha Berry thanks the couple for their donation to the school. If this was the extent of the letter, there would be nothing truly extraordinary about the contents, however, the amount of the donation had a specific reasoning behind it, which I found unusual. Mr. and Mrs. J. Howard Keep had just recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and decided to donate to the Berry Schools a dollar for every year they had been married.
I found this so intriguing because fifty dollars was not a small sum of money in 1930. When I read this letter I was moved by the fact this couple, who were probably about seventy years old, believed so strongly in the work of Martha Berry and her school that they were willing to sacrifice this considerable amount for her sake. Donating this money may have even meant they could not afford gifts for each other. On the other hand, it is altogether possible this amount was not a sacrifice at all for Mr. and Mrs. J. Howard Keep to provide. While I do not know the financial situation of this couple, I can see the power of such a gift as theirs. To celebrate a mile-marker moment in one’s life by giving to a cause one believes in is a beautiful gesture.