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Carol Bernstein Ferry and W. H. Ferry Papers

Identifier: MSS006

Scope and Contents

The Carol Bernstein Ferry and W. H. Ferry Papers include Grant Files, 1972-1994; Personal Files, 1960-1997; and Card Files, 1971-1985. These records document the personal donations of the Ferrys in their philanthropic endeavors.

The Grant Files, 1972-1980, 1986-1994, constitute the largest part of these records and document requests for grants that were funded by the Ferrys. At the beginning of the grant files are listings by year of deductible and non-deductible contributions made by the Ferrys. These listings provide a yearly summary of the organizations and individuals receiving funding. The grant files are arranged alphabetically by name of organization or individual receiving a donation or loan. See Appendix 1 for a list of recipients. The files usually contain a proposal or request for funds, handwritten notes between the Ferrys discussing the funding, photocopies of the checks and typed letters of instructions or comments by them to the recipients, miscellaneous correspondence from the recipients, and occasionally documented proof of the work accomplished. The Ferrys usually retained only those requests that they funded and very few denials are present in the collection. The files from December 1980 to December 1985 were destroyed prior to the donation to the IUPUI Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives. Information regarding donations during those years can be found in the Card Files of this collection and in the yearly contribution listings located at the beginning of the Grant Files.

The Personal Files, 1960-1996, arranged alphabetically by subject, contain biographical information on the Ferrys and Dan Bernstein, and writings, speeches, and correspondence of Carol and W. H. Ferry. The correspondence consists of editorial letters written to newspapers, TV and radio stations, letters to political figures, prisons, and personal notes to acquaintances. The editorial letters, mostly written by Carol, give insight into the beliefs and causes of the Ferrys.

The Card Files, 1971-1985, arranged alphabetically, contain a condensed version of donation information about recipients who are no longer receiving donations after 1993. See Appendix 2 for a list of the recipients. Some of the groups represented in the Card Files also appear within the Grant Files. The records documenting donations for the years 1981-1985 appear here. Listed on the front of each card are the name and address of the recipient, and the amount(s) and date(s) of the donations. The reason for the donation is usually described on the back of each card. The following coding was used on the cards to help with record keeping:

P Check drawn on W. H. Ferry's account, not on joint account. Normally used to stay within the limits imposed on political contributions, but sometimes used for personal reasons C Used to track political contributions by Carol Ferry [ ] Contribution is an advance on what is or might have been in Carol Ferry's will rec recommended by sol solicited or suggested by via Check was sent to an umbrella organization rather than the ultimate recipient.

The cards also include the donations made from a checking account in England to fund projects and people recommended by Michael Scott, an English cleric involved in the liberation of South West Africa (Namibia) and other African causes.


  • 1971 - 1997


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Biographical / Historical

Carol Bernstein Ferry was born Carol Underwood in 1924 in upstate New York and grew up in Portland, Maine. She attended a private girls' school and graduated from Wells College, a small woman's college near Auburn, New York, in 1945. She moved to New York City in 1946 and worked as a copy editor and proofreader, eventually freelancing in that capacity for McGraw-Hill. In 1953 she married Daniel Bernstein with whom she had two children.

Daniel J. Bernstein was born in New York City in 1918, the youngest of three brothers. Graduating from Cornell University in 1940, he went to Harvard Business School for a year before going to work for the Land Conservation Corps. A few months later he entered the Navy and served for five years. After leaving the military, Dan searched for a job that he felt would have some meaning and Jim Robinson, a progressive minister in Harlem, guided him to the National Scholarship Fund and Service for Negro Students. He and Felice Schwartz, the young woman who had invented the organization, built it into a great success, connecting qualified black students, available funding, and interested colleges. After a few years he entered the business world and eventually began working for Loeb Rhoades, a Wall Street investment firm. Although he disapproved of the market mechanism and the faith people had in it to reflect and enhance the U.S. economy, he found it intellectually fascinating and became very successful. In 1956, while recuperating from knee surgery, Dan decided to work at home as an independent stockbroker.

The Bernsteins always considered themselves to be liberal, but their thoughts and beliefs crystallized during a visit to Cuba in 1960, shortly after the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro became the President. Carol was hesitant about taking a trip there with two small children because of how the American press portrayed Cuba under a dictatorship. She expected to see bearded thugs roaming the streets with their guns. Instead, they saw a wonderful country in which many things that make people suffer had been eliminated. Carol and Dan came back to the United States anxious to tell their friends and acquaintances about their trip but nobody would listen. From then on the Bernsteins' political and social lives moved leftward.

After their Cuba trip, and when Castro became friendly with the Arab states, Dan lost many of his Jewish clients and he almost lost his entire business. He built up another trade and continued to voice his beliefs. In the 1960s, Carol and Dan supported the causes of civil rights, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the anti-Vietnam War movement. The movement against the United States involvement in Vietnam became a major focus of Dan's attention in the early 1960s. Dan would purchase full-page advertisements in newspapers such as The New York Times. His advertising campaign encouraged students to resist the draft, and others to stand up against the war in any way they could. The Bernsteins additionally supported this cause by participating in demonstrations and continually writing their Congressmen. The anti-Vietnam War cause strengthened Dan's belief that if you fought long and hard and concentrated your time, effort, and money on an issue it could be resolved. That resolution had not come by the time of Dan's death in 1970 at the age of 51.

In 1948 Dan had created the DJB Foundation to hold his inheritance from his father. The foundation was not very active, as most of what Dan wanted to do could not be done with soft money. With Dan's death in 1970, a portion of his estate went to the foundation which then began its most active period.

After Dan's death, the DJB Foundation added W(ilbur) H. Ferry, known as Ping, as a new board member. Born in 1910 in Detroit, Michigan, he graduated from Detroit schools and Dartmouth College. He married in 1937 and he and his wife had three daughters. Ping's early career included stints as a newspaperman, Chief Investigator for the New Hampshire OPA, consultant to the International Labor Organization, and Director of Public Relations for the CIO Political Action Committee. In 1945 he became a partner with the public relations firm of Earl Newsom and Co., where Ford Foundation was one of his major clients. While still a partner with Newsom & Co., Ping helped set up the Foundation for the Advancement of Education and the Fund for the Republic for the Ford Foundation. He was vice president, with Robert M. Hutchins as president, of the newly formed Fund for the Republic when the Ford Foundation was broken up by the government. After leaving Earl Newsom & Co. in 1954, Ping worked for the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, a newly created entity from the break up of the Ford Foundation, as its vice president with Hutchins as its president. In 1964, Ping gathered a group of thinkers and activists and they published a manifesto, called The Triple Revolution, which created a great stir around the country. The argument of the piece was that the country was being ruined by three things: the growth of technology which would eliminate the need for human labor, advances in weaponry development and militarist thinking that made possible the elimination of civilization, and the racism that stunts the lives of so many in the United States and around the world. He published numerous articles on topics dealing with education, race relations, and peace. The Corporation and the Economy (1959), The Economy under Law (1961), Caught on the Horn of Plenty (1962), What Price Peace (1963), Masscomm as Educator (1966), Farewell to Integration (1967), Tonic and Toxic Technology (1967), The Police State Is Here (1969), and The Zaca Manifesto (1980) are a sampling of his writings throughout his career as a foundation consultant and well-known disturber of the peace.

Ping and Carol, as well as the other two DJB Foundation board members, Stephen Abrams and Robert Browne, disbursed the funds of the DJB Foundation, expanding and building on Dan's guidelines, until its funds were exhausted in 1974. Following Carol and Ping's marriage in 1973, they continued what Carol had begun, donating their personal wealth, giving to groups concerned with minority rights, the environment, alternative education, governmental injustices, as well as individual activists, progressive political candidates, and people they believed suffered government harassment.

Their responses to requests for money have not focused on "why" they should give but rather on "why not." If they could not answer this question with substantial reasons, the tendency was to give the money. Through the years the Ferrys have given away a large amount of money, usually in fairly small amounts to hundreds of individuals and organizations, and have been advocates for the causes they believe worthwhile. After Ping's death in 1995, Carol has continued to practice this personal approach to philanthropy.


22.8 Cubic Feet (22 cartons,1 document box, and 2 card file boxes)


Carol Bernstein Ferry and the late W. H. (Ping) Ferry were social change philanthropists who gave away a substantial part of their personal wealth to progressive social change groups, activities, and activists concentrating generally in the areas of war, racism, poverty, and injustice. The Ferrys were also board members of the DJB Foundation, established by Carol's first husband, Daniel J. Bernstein, which focused its giving in similar areas.

The papers, 1971-1996, document the individuals, organizations, and activities the Ferrys supported with their donations.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Carol Bernstein Ferry and W. H. Ferry, December 1993. A93-89, A96-33

Related Materials

Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions Records, 1952-1991, University of California at Santa Barbara.

DJB Foundation Records, 1971-1975, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

The Carol Bernstein Ferry and W. H. Ferry Oral History, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

Wilbur Hugh Ferry Papers, Baker Special Collections, Dartmouth College.

W. H. Ferry Letters, 1963-1983, Special Collections Department, Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania.

W. H. Ferry Letters, 1957-1982, Special Collections, State University of New York at Buffalo.

W. H. Ferry Oral History Interview, Ford Foundation Oral History Collection, 1975-1986, Ford Foundation Archives.

W. H. Ferry Papers, ca. 1966-1969, King Library and Archives, Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

W. H. Ferry Papers, 1962-1964, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University.

Thomas Merton Collection, Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine College.

Earl Newsom Papers, 1935-1992, Archives Division, State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


  • The Carol Bernstein Ferry and W. H. Ferry Oral History, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
  • Marquis Who's Who Macmillan Directory Division, Macmillan Information Company, Inc. Who's Who in America, 46th Edition, 1990-91. Wilmette: Marquis Who's Who, 1990.


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Carol Bernstein Ferry and W. H. Ferry Papers, 1971-1997
Processed by Brenda L. Burk and Danielle Macsay.
February 1998
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Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Philanthropic Studies Archives Repository

IUPUI University Library
755 W. Michigan St.
Room 0133
Indianapolis IN 46202 USA