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Copy Berg Collection, 1971-1974: Finding Aid

Published in August 2019

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 513
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Copy Berg Collection
  • Dates: 1971-1974
  • Size: 1.42 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 flat box, 1 oversize folder
  • Creator: Berg, Vernon E. (Vernon Edward), 1951-1999
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Vernon "Copy" Berg was an artist, officer in the United States Navy, and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1974. The Copy Berg Collection spans from 1971 to 1974. The collection consists of original and published copies of artwork produced by Berg while he was a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.

Biography of Vernon "Copy" Berg, III

Vernon "Copy" Berg, a native of Port Jefferson, New York, and the son of a Navy chaplain, was admitted to the United States Naval Academy in 1970. While at the Academy, Berg was known for his artwork, with examples of his work published in The Log magazine, where his rendering of Salty Sam was a familiar, biweekly sight throughout the early 1970s. Berg's work could also be found in publications such as the 1974 drag's handbook, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?, cruise books, and event programs, as well as on posters and T-shirts around the Academy.

Following his graduation from the Naval Academy and commissioning as an ensign, Berg was assigned to the Navy's Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, where he served for a time as Assistant Public Affairs Officer on the staff of Vice Admiral Frederick C. Turner. Berg's Navy career was cut short however, when he was discharged from the Navy in June 1976 on account of his homosexuality. Berg's appeals to be reinstated, challenging the Navy's outright ban on homosexuals, were ultimately unsuccessful, although his discharge was upgraded from "other than honorable" to "honorable." Following his discharge from the Navy, Berg, along with partner E. Lawrence Gibson, moved to New York where he received a master's degree from the Pratt Institute in 1979. As an artist in New York, Berg experimented with photo-realism but ultimately returned to cartoon-like works focusing on topics such as the AIDS epidemic following his 1986 diagnosis with HIV. Copy Berg ultimately succumbed to an AIDS-related illness, dying on January 27, 1999 in New York City.

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Description of Contents

The Copy Berg Collection, comprising 1.42 linear feet of material, spans from 1971 to 1974. The collection consists of original and published copies of artwork produced by Berg while he was a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.

The Copy Berg Collection is arranged by document type into a single series with no subdivisions. The collection includes four original copies of artwork, three of which were produced for the 1974 drag's handbook, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?, including Berg's likeness of "Mother B," a second, untitled likeness of a woman, and a third, either signed or titled "Jackie." The last of the three does not bear Berg's signature, but does have his calling card affixed to the back. The final original is a "Beat Army" poster featuring the likeness of a woman dangling an Army mule from her pearl necklace; a motif often repeated by Berg.

The remainder of the collection consists of published copies of works by Berg, appearing in two publications. One is the program for the Masqueraders' production of Guys and Dolls, featuring cover art by Berg, as well as a variant of his "Beat Army" motif. The second publication is a cruise book for the 1971 midshipman summer practice cruise, entitled Paint "N" Powder. Like the show program, the cruise book features variants of Berg's "Beat Army" motif, as well as several smaller drawings. The published works are accompanied by one of Berg's "Salty Sam" calling cards.

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The Copy Berg Collection is arranged by document type.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Copy Berg Collection is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift in June 2016. Accession No. 19-11.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional artwork by Berg in this repository can be found in the Mary A. Marshall Papers, MS 464. Additional materials pertaining to Berg's studies and career in the Navy can be found in his Midshipman Personnel Jacket (sealed until 2038) and Alumni Jacket.

The majority of Berg's papers can be found in the Copy Berg Papers, MssCol 3444 at the New York Public Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Copy Berg Collection, MS 513

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Berg, Vernon Edward III Alumni Jacket, RG 405, Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Moske, Jim and Marth Foley. Guide to the Copy Berg Papers, New York Public Library Archives & Manuscripts.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in August 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in August 2019.

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Subject Headings

These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Name and Subject Terms

  • Berg, Vernon E. (Vernon Edward), 1951-1999
  • United States Naval Academy -- Caricatures and cartoons
  • United States Naval Academy -- Midshipmen -- Cruises

Genre Terms

  • Drawings (visual works)
  • Manuscripts
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Artwork - Published, 1971-1972 (approximate), undated

Includes a program for the Masqueraders' production of Guys and Dolls, a cruise book entitled "Paint "N" Powder" for the 1971 midshipman training cruise, and one of Berg's calling cards featuring his rendering of Salty Sam.

Box 1 Folder 2

Artwork - Originals, 1974 (approximate)

Three originals of artwork appearing in the 1974 Drag's Handbook, including "Mother B." One portrait of a woman signed "Jackie" does not bear Berg's signature, and may be the work of another artist.

Drawer MSOS Folder 1

Artwork - Originals, undated

Beat Army poster.

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