Anna Berliner Collection, 1919-1979  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Berliner, Anna
Anna Berliner Collection
1919-1979 (inclusive)
1.5 cubic feet, (2 boxes)
Collection Number
Anna Berliner was a psychology professor who also wrote about Japanese culture and society. The collection includes material by and about her, including writings, correspondence, documents relating to her career, photographs, memorials written about her, and clippings related to her murder.
Pacific University, Archives
Pacific University Archives
2043 College Way
Forest Grove, OR
Telephone: 503-352-1400
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research with the exception of one folder. Psychological research documents in the "Szondi Test Materials" folder may contain information that is protected under privacy laws; please consult archivist.

Sponsored by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection includes material by and about Anna Berliner, including drafts and publications of her writings, a small amount of correspondence, documents relating to her career, and two photographs. These are accompanied by a set of files about Berliner, mostly pertaining to her memorial and to the investigation into her murder. Most of the material is professional rather than personal in character, with the exception of a few letters and notes written in her memory.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Anna Berliner was a professor who specialized in the intersections between psychology and optometry. With interests in these fields as well as Japanese language and culture, Berliner had a varied career spanning three continents.

Born with the name Anni Meyer to a German Jewish family in 1888, she studied medicine at the universities of Freiburg and Berlin. At the age of 22, she married Sigfrid Berliner, the brother of one of her school friends. Sigfried was about five years older and had a Ph.D. in Physics. She joined him in Leipzig, where she became the first and only female Ph.D. student to work under Wilhelm Wundt, a reknowned scholar in the field of experimental psychology. After finishing her degree at the University of Leipzig, the couple moved toTokyo, where Sigfried had accepted an appointment as a business professor.

Disasters and political upheavals would disrupt Anna Berliner's life multiple times in the next three decades. Soon after moving to Tokyo, the First World War broke out, and the Berliners were interned as enemy aliens on the island of Shikoku. The Japanese soon required Anna to leave without her husband. She travelled to the United States and eventually found work as a psychologist for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City. At the close of the war, she moved back to Japan, where Sigfried again took up a post at the university. Anna worked, learned Japanese, and developed an appreciation for Japanese culture. She would later draw on her experiences to write a book on tea ceremony, Der Teekult in Japan. In 1923, the Berliners survived an earthquake that devastated the city of Tokyo. They moved back to Germany, and Anna became the secretary of the European branch of the German East Asiatic Society. After the Nazis came to power, the Berliners had to leave once again. They eventually settled in the United States, where Anna taught Japanese to American students and soldiers during the Second World War. When writing her curriculum vita in the late 1940s, she noted, "Interruptions in the chronological list of professional work are due to two wars, a revolution, the Japanese earthquake and research work."

Berliner transitioned into teaching psychology full-time after the end of the Second World War. As a woman and a German-Jewish refugee who was approaching 60 years of age, the career move presented some difficulties. Nevertheless, for more than 20 years, she would work as a professor of psychology with an emphasis on connections to the field of optometry. She taught at the Northern Illinois College of Optometry from 1946-1947 and then at Pacific University in Oregon from 1949-1969, and was granted emeritus status on her retirement. She published over 20 articles on visual psychology. In 1971, she won the Apollo Award, the highest honor bestowed by the American Optometric Association.

On May 16, 1977, Anna was found stabbed and beaten to death at her home in Forest Grove. She was 88 years old and had been a widow for 15 years. The confessed killer, William James Watkins Jr., was a 14 or 15-year-old Forest Grove high school student. His attorney argued in court that he suffered from a psychiatric condition. According to testimony for the prosecution, Watkins had been trying to take money from Anna, and when she threatened to call the police, he killed her. Watkins was sentenced to life in prison.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

Anna Berliner Collection, Pacific University Archives, Forest Grove, Oregon.

Restrictions on Use

Pacific University owns the copyright to some, but not all, of the materials housed in its archives. Copyright for materials authored or otherwise produced as official business of Pacific University is retained by Pacific University and requires its permission for publication. Copyright status for other collection materials varies. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 Writings: "Japanese Advertising in the Daily Press." Translated for U. of Chicago. Circa 1940?
2 Writings: "The Psychological Field a Determinant Factor in Vision: a report about experimental literature."
"Read before the Second Annual Postgraduate Optometric Seminar, Pacific University, June 23, 1952."
3 Writings: "Reminiscences of Wundt and Leipzig."
Typescript draft fragment of a longer article; ends on page 8.
Circa 1940-1960?
4 Writings: Review of Richard Broxton Onians' "The Origins of European Thought about the Body, the Mind, the World Time, and Fate." 1951
5 Writings: "Visual Psychology: Chicago Ed." Circa 1940?
6 Writings: "Visual Psychology Lectures, Northern Illinois College of Opt." 1946-1947
7 Writings: "Lectures on Visual Psychology: Copy with Notes."
Binder includes offprints of Berliner's writings with added marginal notes, notes about and copies of writings by third parties, hand-drawn diagrams, a glossary, and a specimen of a visual testing card.
8 Correspondence: Brock, Frederick W.
Incoming and outgoing letters.
9 Correspondence: Nagai, Alexander 1958
10 Correspondence: Nagel, Klaus
Incoming and outgoing letters accompanied by a copy of Nagel's Diplomarbeit, "Experimenteller Beitrag zur Wahrnehmungsdynamik symmetrisch strukturierter Reizfigurationen."
11 Correspondence: Rengstorff, Roy H. 1967-1968
12 Personal Papers: Curriculum Vitae and Letters of Recommendation
Binder compiling Berliner's education, employment history and list of publications (dated circa 1948-1960), and letters of recommendation (dated 1919-1961). Some correspondence related to her academic career is also included.
Oversize Personal Papers: American Optometric Assocation Apollo Award binder
Compilation of material related to the Apollo Award that Berliner won in 1971, including the award program, her curriculum vitae, clippings and letters of support. Note: Housed in oversized box labelled "Box 2."
13 Personal Papers: Catalog of gifts from Anna Berliner's personal library to Pacific University 1976
14 Personal Papers: Diplomas and Certificates 1950-1961
15 Personal Papers: Miscellaneous research notes and memorabilia Circa 1946-1977
16 Personal Papers: Szondi Test Materials
Includes testing supplies and blank forms, and a folder labelled "Szondi Profiles" that appears to have psyschological profiles of test subjects (mostly anonymous). Note: test profiles may be restricted by privacy laws.
17 Photographs
Two photographs: a group photograph from the 1957 International Congress of Psychology in Brussels; and a circa 1965 snapshot of Berliner seated with a nun.
18 Publications: "Lectures on Visual Psychology." Chicago: Professional Press, 1948. 1948
19 Publications: The Optometric Weekly articles
Mostly consists of her article issued in parts, "Visual Psychology."
20 Publications: "Spatial Displacement of Straight and Curved Lines." Offprint from The American Journal of Psychology. 1949
21 Publications by Others: Frederick Brock articles 1945-1962
22 Publications by Others: Miscellaneous
Includes Berliner's copy of Felix Scherke's Betriebs Psychologie (Berlin: 1948), an article on Wundt, and various other articles.
23 Files about Berliner: Haynes, Gladys L. Letter and speech about her memories of Berliner. 1977
24 Files about Berliner: Hausske, Dorothy Lee Davidson. Poem in memory of Berliner. 1977
25 Files about Berliner: Memorial service program and notes
Includes unsigned memorial speech, possibly by Harold Haynes.
26 Files about Berliner: Notes on memories of Berliner by Paul Eskildsen, Charles Margach and Ruth W. Tichauer 1977
27 Files about Berliner: Professor Anna Berliner Memorial Lecture
Includes a program, a promotional brochure, the text of the lecture by Mathew Alpern, and a clipping.
28-29 Files about Berliner: Clippings
Primarily newspaper articles from the Washington County News-Times about Berliner's murder and her legacy as a professor.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Pacific University
  • Occupations :
  • Faculty Member, College or University