Guide to the Papers of Morris Berg, undated, 1902-1972 [Bulk Dates 1930-1960]
 
*P-924

Processed by Alexandra Bickel

American Jewish Historical Society

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 294-6160

Fax: (212) 294-6161

Email: reference@ajhs.org

URL: http://www.ajhs.org

© 2014, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Alexandra Bickel as MS Word document, March 19, 2014. Finding aid was encoded by Alexandra Bickel on March 26, 2014. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Berg, Morris
Title: Morris “Moe” Berg Papers
Dates:Undated, 1924-1972 [Bulk Dates 1930-1960]
Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Morris "Moe" Berg, who was a professional baseball player, linguist, lawyer, and international spy during WWII. Berg's papers are in the form of correspondence, contracts, telegrams, newspaper and magazine clippings.
Languages: The collection is in English, German, Italian, Japenese, and French.
Quantity: 1.7 linear feet (1 Manuscript Box and 2 OS1 Folders)
Identification: P-924
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS New York, NY
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Biographical Note

Morris “Moe” was born March 2, 1902 in New York City to Russian-Jewish immigrants Bernard Berg, and his wife, Rose Tashker. Rose and Bernard had three children, Samuel, Ethel, and Morris, who was the youngest. At the age of three, Moe begged his mother to let him attend school with his older sister and brother, and after she outfitted him with school clothes, he joined his older siblings.1 Berg had a photographic memory that enhanced his ability to retain copious amounts of information and may have later helped in his career as a spy for the Office of Strategic Management (OSS), the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The family moved to Newark, NJ where Berg attended Barringer High School. Berg had a knack for languages studying Latin, Greek and French and was voted “Brightest Boy” by classmates.2 Berg’s natural knack for baseball could be seen even as a toddler, when he would toss around a ball with his brother Samuel and play catch with his neighbor. During his high school baseball career, Berg was third baseman; he had a steady bat and made no throwing errors.3

After graduation Berg enrolled at New York University, transferring to Princeton University after two semesters. At Princeton, Berg studied Linguistic Science and became proficient in Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Sanskrit. Berg’s zest for knowledge led him to study a variety of other subjects including philosophy, history, economics, literature, and biology. Berg continued playing baseball at Princeton, initially as first baseman on the freshman team, then as starting shortstop on the varsity team, where he helped win eighteen consecutive games. Though not particularly strong as a batter or runner, Berg was commended for his field work, and his ability to read the path of the ball and field it efficiently. Graduating Princeton University in 1923, Berg was offered a teaching position, but decided to travel to continue his language studies.4

In order to afford his study and travel, Berg accepted a contract to play shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. During his time with the Dodgers, Berg was commended for his agility on the field. However, his arm and aim with the ball became erratic and he consistently made errors. Berg decided to take a break from major league baseball and left to study in Paris.5 He enrolled at the Sorbonne soon upon arrival where he studied Latin, Italian, and French Literature and took classes to study Romantic Linguistics.6 While abroad Berg had the opportunity to tour Italy and Switzerland. He returned to baseball in 1926 to play third base with the Minneapolis Millers, a minor league team. The following year, he moved up to the major league Chicago White Sox, where he played catcher. While with the White Sox, Berg attended Columbia Law School, graduating in 1930, balancing academic interests with his love of baseball. During this time he seriously injured his knee, which limited his time on the field. Berg worked for a brief period of time in a Manhattan law firm, Saterlee and Canfield, as a corporate lawyer.7 The Cleveland Indians picked up Berg in 1932 as a substitute catcher and he played both with the Indians and the Washington Senators up until 1935.

During this time, Berg traveled to Japan twice. In 1932 Berg and two other players traveled to Japan to teach baseball at Japanese universities. While the other players returned home after their coaching assignments, Berg stayed behind to explore Japan and traveled to India, Egypt, and Germany.8 In 1934, Berg toured Japan a second time with a group of major league all-stars which included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. A New York City production company gave Berg a camera to film scenic sites on his trip.9 During an all-star game, Berg went to the roof of one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo, Saint Luke's Hospital in the Tsukiji district, and filmed the city harbor.10 Pilots reportedly later used the film during Tokyo-area bombing raids in World War II. After returning to America, Berg was picked up by the Boston Red Sox in 1935. He retired as a baseball player in 1939, but stayed with the Red Sox to coach from 1940-1941.

During World War II, possibly in 1942, Berg was recruited as an agent for the OSS. Touring Europe, he was assigned to help determine how close Germany was to developing an atomic bomb by posing as a business man in Switzerland. Berg spent parts of 1944 and 1945 in Italy and Germany, helping arrange the capture of German atomic scientists. Returning to the United States, he retired from the OSS in 1945.11 He was awarded the Medal of Freedom, but turned it down. In 1952 Berg returned to work for the CIA and was sent to Europe to gather intelligence on the Soviet Union. He served in the CIA until 1954, when his contract expired.

After his service with the CIA, Berg lived in New Jersey with his brother Samuel and his sister Ethel, where he resided until his death at age 70 in 1972.

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Scope and Content Note

The Berg papers span the years 1924 to 1984, with the bulk of the material dating from 1930 to 1960. The collection features correspondence between Berg and other major league baseball players: Alphonse “Tommy” Thomas, Ted Lyons, Johnny Nuen, and Al Schacht. Also included is correspondence about Berg during his OSS employment from Major Charles G. Wagner, Col. William J. Donovan, and U.S. diplomat Laurence Steinhardt. The collection is organized in four series: Baseball Career, WWII Activities, Personal, and Ephemera. This collection also includes all materials from a smaller collection (P-853) that has been incorporated. The materials formerly in P-853 include the Berg Employment Application (copies) and the Moe Berg Medal of Freedom Correspondence which can now be found in Series II: WWII Correspondence.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 4 series as follows:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is RESTRICTED. Researchers may view the collection ONLY BY EXPLICIT PERMISSION of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. To request permission to see the materials contact: reference@ajhs.org

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011
email: reference@ajhs.org

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Related Material

This collection combines two previously unprocessed collections regarding Mr. Berg, plus a third collection, P-853 Morris Berg OSS Employment Application, 1943, which contains a photocopy of his application. The collections were merged into Series II: World War II Activities.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Morris “Moe” Berg Papers; P-924; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.

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Acquisition Information

The Morris “Moe” Berg papers were donated to the American Jewish Historical Society by Irwin M. Berg, Linda McCarthy and George Blumenthal of The Jewish Sports Archives.

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Access Points

This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

 

Series I:Baseball Career, Undated, 1924-1940

English and Japanese
Box 1, Folders 1-6.
Arrangement:

Arranged by subject and chronologically by date.

Scope and Content:

See Collection Scope and Content Note.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Baseball Cards Undated
1 2 Baseball Correspondence 1928-1960
1 3 Christmas Cards 1981-1986
1 4 Invitations 1948-1960
1 5 Baseball Newspaper Clippings 1934-1970
1 6 Baseball in Japan Undated
BoxFolderTitleDate
OS1 1 Score Cards 1939,1960,1963
OS1 2 Japanese All Star Program, Japanese News Paper Undated
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Series II: WWII Activities, Undated, 1940-1946

English, German, Italian, and French.
Box 1, Folders 7-12.
Arrangement:

Arranged by subject and chronologically by date..

Scope and Content:

See Collection Scope and Content Note.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 7 WWII Correspondence 1943, 1945-1946, 2009
1 8 WWII Invitations 1958
1 9 WWII Orders 1944-1945
1 10 WWII Photo Undated
1 11 Abroad Documents 1924-1946
1 12 Receipts 1935, 194, 41946
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Series III: Personal, Undated, 1943-1978

English.
Box 1, Folder 13.
Scope and Content:

See Collection Scope and Content Note.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 13 Personal Documents, Princeton remembrance Book 1946-1973
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Series IV: Ephemera, Undated

Box 1, Folder 14.
Scope and Content:

See Collection Scope and Content Note.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 14 Triangle change purse Undated
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