Robert S. Kerr Collection

1871-1970 (bulk: 1931-1962)

231.5 cubic feet

portrait of Robert S. Kerr
Gubernatorial and Other Papers Inventory
Conservation Inventory
Legislative Inventory
Political/Campaign Inventory
Departmental Inventory
Topical Inventory
Speech Inventory
Printed Material Inventory
Correspondence Inventory
Addition Inventory
Invitations
Clipping Inventory
Oversize Inventory
Map Inventory
Oil man Robert S. Kerr (1896-1963) first held elective office when he became Oklahoma's governor in 1942. During the war years, he presided over a vigorous economic expansion and directed a remarkably efficient state administration. A year after leaving the governor's office, he was successful in his first attempt at the U.S. Senate in 1948. Kerr was reelected to two more terms. After he failed at winning the 1952 Democratic presidential nomination, Kerr thereafter devoted his energies to building his Senate career. Kerr served on several key committees, most notably the Finance and Public Works committees. He also forged alliances to key senators, such as Lyndon B. Johnson, who led the Democrats' Senate forces. A partner in Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Kerr increasingly became known as a key champion of southwestern oil and gas interests. Of course, he did not hesitate to use his influence for Oklahoma's behalf. Millions of dollars were diverted to military and civilian projects in the state. Also, a series of water projects, dams, and an entire navigation system that links the Arkansas River to the oceans of the world are part of Kerr's legacy.

The Kerr Collection mainly consists of materials generated during the Senate years. However, there are several cubic feet of documents that relate to his years as Oklahoma's governor. Because of Kerr's devotion to conservation work, there is a significant amount of documentation on both Oklahoma and non-Oklahoma projects. As with so many of Oklahoma's lawmakers, there is a large amount of material regarding agriculture and Native Americans. Finally one of the most valuable parts of the collection concerns the senator's speeches. Often considered one of the finest orators that Oklahoma ever produced or that the Senate ever heard, Kerr gave the keynote address at the 1944 Democratic National Convention that nearly won him the second slot on Franklin D. Roosevelt's ticket.

Major series titles include:

Gubernatorial and Other Papers

1931-1948; 36 cubic feet; topics in the Kerr Gubernatorial Series include freight rates, Oklahoma during World War II, Interstate Oil Compact Commission, education, resource planning, and highway construction and repair. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Conservation

1930-1962; 17 cubic feet; the Kerr Conservation files cover the senator's interest in water projects (such as those on the Arkansas River and Grand River) and soil conservation. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Departmental

1949-1963; 24 cubic feet; topics in the Kerr Departmental files include the Southwestern Power Administration, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture. There is a box and folder inventory to this series available on this web site.

Legislative

1947-1962; 31.3 cubic feet; topics in the Kerr Legislative files include agriculture, Native Americans, natural gas, social security, Medicare, natural resources, taxes, and veterans. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Political/ Campaign

1927-1963; 13 cubic feet; the Kerr Political/Campaign series has a variety of material included in it and consists of campaign material; correspondence (colleague, constituent and non-constituent, business, personal, and family); and public relations (publicity, press releases, newsletters, radio, and television). There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Topical

1944-1963; 19 cubic feet; topics in the Kerr Topical files include agriculture, education, transportation, military bases in Oklahoma, and space exploration. Materials are first arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Speeches

1871-1963; 12.3 cubic feet; the Kerr Speech files consist of those speeches made by Kerr before he entered public life, ones from his years as Oklahoma governor, and finally those from his senatorial career; speeches by others; and finally topical material used for speeches. The speeches by Kerr are arranged chronologically. They are followed by the speeches by others, again arranged chronologically. Finally, the topical material is arranged alphabetically. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Invitations

1946-1962; 2.3 cubic feet; the Kerr Invitation files consist of correspondence, primarily regarding invitations which Kerr accepted. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Clippings

1924-1963; 5 cubic feet; the Kerr Clipping files consist of clippings from Oklahoma newspapers as well as newspapers from other states. The series also has some printed material, including magazine articles, newsletters, and pamphlets. The files are arranged alphabetically by topic. This series has a wealth of material on conservation as well as various elections. There are many folders on the 1952 presidential election. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Printed Material

1926-1962; 3 cubic feet; the Kerr Printed Material files consist of various publications issued by government agencies, civic groups, and industry. There also journal and magazine articles. Materials are arranged alphabetically. This series has information on agriculture, conservation, foreign affairs, and petroleum. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Correspondence

1947-1962; 21.3 cubic feet; the Kerr Correspondence files predominantly cover Kerr's senatorial career and basically begin where the correspondence in the Gubernatorial Series ends. Materials are arranged alphabetically by last name and chronologically within. Only VIP names and names which appear at least five times are shown on the inventory. Both personal names as well as names of businesses and organizations are in the inventory. This series contains several files concerning Kerr's office and staff as well as calendars and appointments. There are a few retained case files at the end of the series. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Addition

1901-1970; 29 cubic feet; the Kerr Addition files were donated to the Carl Albert Center in 2005 by the Robert S. Kerr family. Although many of the files duplicate series already in existence in the collection (conservation, campaigns, speeches, and correspondence), the large amount of material made it impossible to interfile with the existing series. Therefore, a separate series was created. Most of the Addition consists of alphabetical correspondence. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Oversize

1917-1962; 18.3 cubic feet; the Kerr Oversize series consists predominantly of scrapbooks and newspapers. Several scrapbooks highlight Kerr's gubernatorial term. Other scrapbooks are concerned with Kerr's early years in the U.S. Senate. There are also two scrapbooks with information about John F. Kennedy's visit to Big Cedar, Oklahoma, in 1961. There is a box and folder level inventory to this series available on this web site.

Maps

1930-1962; 249 maps; primary focus is on highways as well as water projects, especially in Oklahoma. There is an inventory to this series available on this web site.

Researchers are also directed to the Robert S. Kerr Photograph Collection and to the Malvina Stephenson Collection. For more information on the archival holdings, please contact the Carl Albert Center.

There is an Internet Exhibit on the life of Robert S. Kerr.


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