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Omeka - Digital History at Ursinus

Alumni Memorial Library, College Union, and Berman Museum

Fundraising the Alumni Memorial Library


During World War I, Ursinus lost eight students and alumni: F. Leroy Moser, A. Roy Isenberg, Chas. Otto Reinhold, Frank M. Glendenning, Byron S. Fegely, William Henry Yoch, Harvey Ott, and George H. Benz.  To pay memorial to these fallen men, the college decided to build a library that would be paid for entirely by donations from alumni.  With an end goal of $50,000, articles were published every week in the newspaper, The Weekly, calling for alumni to subscribe to the Alumni Memorial Library Fund.  Toward the end of April 1920, the college stopped publishing the Weekly articles.  The construction on the Alumni Memorial Library started in the fall of 1921.

The Alumni Memorial Library


The library finally opened its doors to the Ursinus Community in 1923.  With the intent on making it last the test of time, the college put a lot of effort into ensuring that the building was sturdy.  The library served the campus for forty-seven years before being turned into the Ursinus College Union.  On October 6, 1970, students and faculty helped carry the books from the Alumni Memorial Library to the campus’ new library, Myrin Library, in an event called the Book Walk.

College Union Building

The front door of the College Union.

The College Union


Though it was only around for fourteen years, the Ursinus College Union was very popular among students, faculty, administrators, and alumni alike.  Many people claimed that the Union changed the social atmosphere of Ursinus College completely by provide a place for students to lounge about and socialize.  It featured rooms in which students could listen to music, study in groups, or hold meetings.  There were also pool tables and pinball machines for recreational use.  People were able to buy food such as hotdogs, burgers, cheese steaks, and french fries along with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and milk shakes.  Mini-courses were also taught by various members of the faculty, staff, and student body.

Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art (Front of the building)

The Berman Museum



Philip Berman began as a student at Ursinus College in 1932. He stayed for a year and left in order to help with his family owned farm machinery business. Fast forward to 1968, in which Philip and Muriel purchased Hess's department store in Allentown PA. As he and Muriel grew that company, so too did their love for the arts, and they began collecting. The importance of that year at Ursinus on Philips life began to show because he and Muriel began donating some artwork to the school. After time went on, they began to look towards a more permanent location for their art collection. After helping Ursinus fund the Residential Village, specifically Fetterolf House, the Bermans donated more artwork. 

As luck would have it, the College Union was living out its years, and on their tour, Philip and Muriel saw the perfect opportunity for the building. They decided to raise money to have the building renovated, specifically for new fire prevention, air conditioning, heat, and security. On top of that, they decided to renovate the back entrance of the building to make it the main entrance instead. Lastly, they renovated the basement and second floor. These renovations were finished in 1989 and the museum had its first opening exhibition at the end of the year. The first exhibition was entitled, "A Passion for Art: Selections from the Berman Collection."

After that point, the Berman Art Museum has gone through some changes. In 2009 there was a renovation of the basement to have a visible workspace. The renovations continued with a works on paper room, a classroom, the Pfeiffer Wing, and lastly visible storage. Most recently the visible storage has been moved to make room for a new event space and a space in which local artists are be invited to exhibit their work.

Alumni Memorial Library, College Union, and Berman Museum