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RG2631.AM:  Theophil Herman Berg, 1879-1967

Papers:  1907-1962

Lincoln, Lancaster County, Neb.:  City clerk

Size:  1.0 cu.ft.; 1 box


Theophil Herman Berg served nearly half a century as City Clerk and Finance Director for the City of Lincoln, Nebraska. Born in St. Charles County, Missouri on October 18, 1879, Theo Berg moved to Nebraska in 1882. He attended the public schools of Lancaster County and graduated in 1901 from Lincoln Business College. Berg married Clara Kapke on September 26, 1906. From 1905 to 1907 he worked as a record clerk in the office of the Lincoln City Clerk. In 1907 Berg served as assistant secretary of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. Thereafter he returned to public life as Deputy Clerk of the District Court from 1908 to 1913. When Lincoln adopted the commission form of government, Berg was appointed City Clerk and Auditor of Lincoln on May 15, 1913. In 1937 he assumed the additional responsibility as Director of Accounts and Finance and performed this dual function until his retirement in 1959.

Berg was active in obtaining a home rule charter for Lincoln in 1917 and the city’s first zoning ordinance in the 1920s. He also established the first permanent voter registration for the city and was instrumental in developing the city’s centralized accounting system and in modernizing the city’s assessment system and its tax structure. He gained national recognition in the mid-1930s for devising a slide rule graph which showed the city’s current financial status at all times. He served on the city charter revision committee in 1959.

A recipient of the Good Government Award of the Lincoln Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1955, Berg’s other activities included President and Director of the Midwest Savings and Loan Association, Secretary of the Nebraska Division of Public Ownership’s League of Nebraska Municipalities. Berg was Chairman of the Lancaster Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and a charter member and President of the Optimist Club of Lincoln, and a board member and Sunday School Superintendent for St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church. He also wrote articles which appeared in such publications as the Nebraska Municipal Review and Lincoln Business.

Theophil Herman Berg died on April 27, 1967.


This collection consists of two boxes of manuscript material, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks arranged in seven series: (1) Correspondence, 1910-1962; (2) Speeches, 1928-1942 and Undated; (3) Legal File, 1907-1915; (4) Newspaper Clipping, 1921-1959; (5) Manuscripts, c. 1915; (6) Miscellany; and (7) Scrapbooks, 1920-1958.

The bulk of this collection consists of newspaper clippings and speeches of Theophil Berg concerning the finances of the City of Lincoln and his career as City Clerk and Director of Finances (1913-1959). An account of the physical growth of Lincoln to approximately 1915 is in manuscript form. Included in the correspondence are letters relating to the naturalization of Charles A. Bartz (1910-1913), letters and clippings concerning the controversy over pensions for Lincoln firemen (1915-1917), and letters and clippings relating to oil leases for Berg family property in Wyoming (1923-1924). Among the Miscellany are seamarks of German royal and civil offices in use before World War I.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1910-1962

Box 1


  1. 1910-1913

  2. 1915, 1917

  3. 1922-1924

  4. 1935, 1940, 1944

  5. 1955,1959-1962

Series 2 – Speeches, 1928-1942 and Undated

  1. 1928, “Our Duties to Municipal Government”

    1930, “The Financial Problems of Lincoln”

    1931, “The Duties of a City Clerk and the Handling of City Funds”

    1931, “Some of Lincoln’s Activities during Past Year”

    1932, “The Commission Form of Government”

    1933, “The Duties of a City Clerk”

  2. 1934, “The County Manager Form of Government”

    1934, “Our Local Financial Situation”

    1934, “Our Taxation System”

    1935, “Our City Budget”

    1936, “Pay as You Go”

    1936, “Municipal Finance and How Tax Dollar Is Distributed”

  3. 1937, “The Government of Lincoln”

    1937, “Lincoln’s New Form of Government”

    1937, “From Village to City”

    1937, “The Dangers and Benefits of Our New Form of Government”

  4. 1939, “The Records of a City Clerk”

    1939, “Our City Government”

    1940, “A Modern Town Meeting”

    1941, “Our Community Tax Dollar”

    1942, “The City of Lincoln and Some of Its Problems”

    1942, “From Village to City”

  5. n.d., “The City Government”

    n.d., “The Necessity of Organizing, Co-ordinating, and Uniting all Public Ownership Forces”

Series 3 – Legal File, 1907-1920

  1. 1907, Report of the Nebraska Grand Jury in the matter of illegal voting in the Republican Primary



    1920, Correspondence between Berg and the City Attorney of Lincoln on the interpretation of laws governing voter registration

Series 4 – Newspaper Clippings, 1921-1959

  1. Finances of the City of Lincoln, honors to Berg, his retirement, and explorations for oil and minerals in western Nebraska and Wyoming

Series 5 – Manuscripts, c. 1915

  1. Notes and draft of a booklet by Berg on the growth of Lincoln to be used in the public schools

Series 6 – Miscellany

  1. Biographical sketch of Berg

    Receipt book from World War I Red Cross fund drive

    Belgian War Relief Drive posters

    Seals of German royal and civil offices in use before World War I

    Patent issued to Berg and Charles R. Wilke for voting booth, 1929

    Doggerel on the New Deal

    Copy of the revisions to the City Charter of Lincoln, proposed in 1959

Series 7 – Scrapbooks, 1920-1958


  1. Newspaper clippings concerning Berg’s public career and the finances of the City of Lincoln (see oversize)

  2. Newspaper clippings concerning Berg’s public career and the finances of the City of Lincoln (see oversize)

  3. Newspaper clippings concerning Berg’s public career and the finances of the City of Lincoln (see oversize)



Berg, Theophil Herman, 1879-1967

Lincoln (Neb.) — History

Lincoln (Neb.) — Politics and government

Municipal government — Nebraska — Lincoln

Seals — German


Revised 05-17-2008   TMM