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Lewis Berner Papers

Identifier: MS Group 155

Scope and Content

Photographs, correspondence, field notes, reports, papers for presentations, maps, publications, and postcards. A large number of photographs and documents pertain to Berner's 1950 survey of the Volta River basin, Gold Coast, British West Africa, to produce an entomological report assessing the public health implications of a planned system of reservoirs and canals. Also covered is his trip to Nyasaland in 1952, along with Dr. Archie Carr of the University of Florida, to survey the insect vectors of human diseases present in the Shire River Valley and to report on the entomological impact of channeling and constructing irrigation drains in the region. Although the correspondence and documents do not cover Berner's Army service in Africa and the Philippines, this period is well represented by the photographs from 1941 through 1945.

A number of documents and photographs portray, or are related to, conservation biologist Archie Carr. Also included are photographs of Marjorie Carr; George Hopper, Sanitary Inspector for Nyasaland; various American and British military and medical personnel; and numerous African people. Of particular interest are the field notes and writings related to the entomological surveys and West African insects such as mosquitoes, black flies (simulium damnosum) and mayflies. Other topics and locations include French Togoland, Dakar, Denu, Lake Malombe, Ntundu, Lake Shirwa, Lake Nyasa, Zambesi River, Ruo River, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Marrakech, and a Nairobi game preserve.

The postcards cover various locations in Africa, including Accra, Gold Coast; French West Africa; Dakar, Senegal; East Africa; and Marrakech. The majority of the postcards are photographs, but several are illustrations portraying stereotypical images of African people.


  • 1933-1955



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Entomologist and professor. Lewis Berner was born on September 30, 1915, in Savannah, Georgia. He received his B.S. in 1937, M.S. in 1939 and Ph.D. in 1941, all from the University of Florida. In 1941, he was inducted into the army, training in field artillery in Texas. Soon thereafter, he was assigned to Ft. McPherson Medical Laboratory (Atlanta) to make use of his scientific background. He spent six months there until his transfer to Accra, Gold Coast (now Ghana) in September 1942 to undertake mosquito control work and other tropical health programs.

Berner served as an army major and entomologist for the Inter-Allied Malaria Control Group in Accra. He received the Legion of Merit medal for his mosquito control work with this primarily British and American group, which was commanded by an Australian and staffed principally by engineers. According to Berner, the group was almost entirely successful in eliminating malaria from the Accra area of the Gold Coast, at the time a British colony (it became independent as Ghana in 1957).

When he first went to Africa in 1942 (flying via Brazil, from Miami), Berner landed in Liberia and stayed for two nights at the Firestone Rubber plantation. Continuing to Accra, he stayed in barracks built by Pan American Airlines. They were relatively luxurious accommodations with mattresses and screened windows. Pan American army planes transported the group throughout much of Africa.

Berner was the medical inspector of Morrison Field Air Base (Palm Beach) for the Africa-Middle East Wing of the Air Transport Command, and for the North African Wing of the A.T.C. He traveled to Liberia, Senegal, French Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, and the Union of South Africa in this capacity in 1943 and 1944. He also traveled from Elizabethville, Belgian Congo (Lubumbashi) to Johannesburg, South Africa, on a narrow gauge railway trip that took five days and four nights to complete.

After returning to the U.S. (again via Brazil) in 1945, Berner was stationed in Miami, and two months later was transferred to the Philippines. On his way there, he stopped in Hawaii, where he arrived on VJ Day, August 14, 1945. There he met his future wife, Amelia (Amy), a nurse on a ship stationed there (they married the same year). He continued to his post as Commanding Officer of the School of Preventative Medicine in Manila, but because the war ended it never functioned. He was discharged in February 1946 as a Lieutenant Colonel and was subsequently offered a position as an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at UF, where he began work that June. He became a full Professor in 1954, later served as chair of the department, and was named Professor Emeritus in 1984.

Berner was a recognized expert on the mayflies of the Southeast U.S. He was the author of numerous publications, primarily on entomology, aquatic insects, mosquitoes and mayflies (particularly the mayflies of Florida). Throughout his career, Berner returned to Africa to conduct research and provide consultation. In 1950, he worked on the Volta River project in the Gold Coast, investigating schistosomiasis and onchocerciasis with the Inter-Allied group. He also worked in the Shire Valley of Malawi in 1952, during which time Archie Carr was his assistant. Dr. Berner died on January 19, 2004.


3 Linear feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials



Photographs, correspondence, field notes, reports and other papers of entomologist and professor Lewis Berner.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by Lewis Berner of Gainesville, Florida, in November 2002.

Alternative Format Available

Selected items from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the UF Digital Collections. Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related Material

Archie F. Carr Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

The transcript of a 1969 oral history interview of Dr. Berner conducted by Samuel Proctor is available online in the UF Digital Collections. In addition, the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida holds several objects donated by Lewis Berner.

A Guide to the Lewis Berner Papers
Finding aid prepared by John R. Nemmers and Dan Reboussin
August 2004
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America