Francis Lewis Berkeley, Jr., (1911-2003) was born on April 9, 1911, at Red Hill in Albemarle County. He was the son of Francis Lewis Berkeley and Ethel Crissey Berkeley. Frank was brother to Cynthia, Helen, and Edmund Berkeley.
After graduating from Red Hill High School, Frank Berkeley attended the University of Virginia, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1934. As a student, he served as secretary to the Jefferson Society. Following graduation, he taught in high schools in Gloucester County and Roanoke, while continuing graduate work at the University.
Berkeley was married on June 12, 1937, to Helen Wayland Sutherland at Moorland Baptist Church in Albemarle County. Their marriage spanned fifty-six years, ending with Helen Berkeley’s death in 1993.
In 1938, Berkeley was appointed as the University’s first Assistant in Manuscripts for the new Division of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Alderman Library. He completed his M.A. in history in 1940 and, in 1941, was appointed Curator of Manuscripts.
Berkeley served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was stationed in the Pacific from 1942 to 1946. He remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve after the war, retiring with the rank of Captain in 1971.
After returning home to Virginia, Berkeley worked on a number of research projects for the University libraries. With the aid of a Fulbright fellowship, he undertook a county-by-county recovery of public and private manuscripts, from England and Scotland, pertaining to Virginia between 1580 and 1780. He organized the Virginia Colonial Records Project, sponsored by Virginia’s four research libraries, recording 20 million Virginia documents for the 1580-1780 period. Additionally, Berkeley launched a massive campaign to keep Virginia’s manuscript resources in Virginia, and, consequently, added millions of documents to the University’s collections. Berkeley was also awarded a Guggenheim fellowship to conduct research on the letter books, diary, and other correspondence of colonial Virginian, Robert “King” Carter (1665-1732).
Berkeley launched The University Press of Virginia as a statewide press dedicated to serving all of Virginia’s learned institutions. He initiated the two principal publications of the new press: The Papers of James Madison and The Papers of George Washington. Until his death, Berkeley served on the editorial advisory boards of both of these continuing publications, as well as on the advisory committee for The Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University.
Berkeley served as secretary to the University’s Board of Visitors, 1953-1958, while continuing his full-time work for the Library. In 1963, President Edgar F. Shannon persuaded Berkeley to leave his position in the Library to become his executive assistant. Berkeley served the University in this capacity until his retirement in 1974.