Biography: Berta N. Briggs (née Nabersberg) was born June 5, 1884 in St. Paul, Minnesota, daughter of John William and Rosina (Reinfrank) Nabersberg. After her graduation from Central High School, she moved to New York to study art at the Art Students League under Kenyon Cox, at the Pratt Institute under Ralph Johannot, and at the Teachers College of Columbia University under Arthur W. Dow.
Upon her return to St. Paul in 1905, Briggs was appointed the first Supervisor of Handicrafts in the public schools, a position she held for three years. From 1908-1911, she organized and directed the Department of Crafts at the St. Paul Institute School of Art and taught woodblock printing, leather work, metal work, and pottery. During these years, she attended the summer school of the Minneapolis Handicraft Guild, working under Ernest Batchelder and Bertha Lum.
In 1911, Briggs moved to New York to become the head of the art department in the Charlton School, a private school for girls, where she taught art and lectured on the history of art and architecture for two years. On June 18, 1913, she married William Harlowe Briggs, an editorial executive for Harper Brothers publishers.
From 1918 to 1928, Berta Briggs lectured on the history of art at Miss Chandor’s School for girls in New York. With nine other craft workers, she founded an outlet for craftwork, the Noank Studio Guild.
In 1928, Briggs began to paint landscapes and specialized in paintings birds. From 1930 to 1932, she was President of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. She was Vice-President of the Society of Woman Geographers from 1939 to 1942, and was a member of the National Association of Women Artists.
Briggs’s book Charles Willson Peale, Artist and Patriot was published in 1952, followed by To the Shores of Tripoli, published in 1955.
Berta N. Briggs died November 12, 1976 in New York City.
(From the Finding Aid to the Berta N. Briggs Papers, 1908–1976, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald)