Collection Number: 03901

Collection Title: John Brownson Ker Papers (#3901) 1779-2017

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.


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Size 3 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1000 items)
Abstract John Brownson Ker (1860-1916) was an attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y. He and his wife, Ellen Burke Ker, were both from Louisiana planter families. They were married in 1892. Their son David (1893-1918) served overseas in World War I. Their daughter Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn (d. 1960) was a volunteer leader in social welfare and mental health projects in the New York City area; organizer of a community development and aid to children project in Jacmel, Haiti, 1956-1959; and a press correspondent in Haiti. Correspondence and other papers of the family of John Brownson Ker and his wife Ellen Burke Ker. Early letters, 1779-1882, are of John Brownson Ker's parents and other Ker and Brownson relatives, most of whom were planters in Louisiana. Most of the earliest letters concern the lower Mississippi River area while it was under Spanish and British control. Papers, 1834-1882, are mainly correspondence of John Brownson's Ker's father, David Ker (1825-1884). Among the papers of the 1850s are bills of sale for slaves, bills for dry-goods, and bills for physician's fees. Correspondence, 1911-1959, includes a items relating to John Brownson Ker and Ellen Burke Ker and their son David Ker and daughter Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn. Many of these letters document David Ker's life, military service in France, and death in World War I. Much of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn's correspondence concerns her views, 1957-1959, on politics and social conditions in Haiti, and her interest in psychoanalysis. Included are more than 30 items of Carl Alfred Meier, with whom she underwent analysis in Switzerland in the 1930s. There are also psychological and sociological writings of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, including reports on the situation in Haiti, 1957-1959; a few financial papers; six notebooks, 1901-1954, containing poems and thoughts of Ellen Burke Ker; clippings; and family photographs.
Creator Ker, John Brownson, 1860-1916.
Curatorial Unit Southern Historical Collection
Language English.
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the John Brownson Ker Papers #03901, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Provenance
Received from David Ker Schermerhorn in February 1970, May 1989 (Acc. 089041) May 1998 (Acc. 98117), and September 2017 (Acc. 103147).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

John Brownson Ker (1860-1916) was an attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y. He and his wife, Ellen Burke Ker, were both from Louisiana planter families. They were married in 1892. Their son David (1893-1918) served overseas in World War I. Their daughter Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn (d. 1960) was a volunteer leader in social welfare and mental health projects in the New York City area; organizer of a community development and aid to children project in Jacmel, Haiti, 1956-1959; and a press correspondent in Haiti.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Correspondence and other papers of the family of John Brownson Ker and his wife Ellen Burke Ker. Early letters, 1779-1882, are of John Brownson Ker's parents and other Ker and Brownson relatives, most of whom were planters in Louisiana. Most of the earliest letters concern the lower Mississippi River area while it was under Spanish and British control. Papers, 1834-1882, are mainly correspondence of John Brownson Ker's father, David Ker (1825-1884). Among the papers of the 1850s are bills of sale for slaves, bills for dry-goods, and bills for physician's fees. Correspondence, 1911-1959, includes a items relating to John Brownson Ker and Ellen Burke Ker and their son David Ker and daughter Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn. Many of these letters document David Ker's life, military service in France, and death in World War I. Much of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn's correspondence concerns her views, 1957-1959, on politics and social conditions in Haiti, and her interest in psychoanalysis. Included are more than 30 items of Carl Alfred Meier, with whom she underwent analysis in Switzerland in the 1930s. There are also psychological and sociological writings of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, including reports on the situation in Haiti, 1957-1959; a few financial papers; six notebooks, 1901-1954, containing poems and thoughts of Ellen Burke Ker; clippings; and family photographs.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Papers, 1779-2017

About 1000 items.

Arrangement: by type of material.

Correspondence, chiefly 1911-1959, and other papers of the family of John Brownson Ker (1860-1916) and his wife Ellen Burke Ker. Correspondence includes a large number of letters between John Brownson Ker and his wife Ellen, their son David Ker (1893-1918) and daughter Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn (d. 1960). In addition to correspondence there are financial papers; six notebooks, 1901-1945, of poems and thoughts of Ellen Burke Ker; psychological and sociological writings and notebooks of Elizabeth K. Schermerhorn; clippings and leaflets; and family photographs.

A major part of the correspondence concerns the life, military service, and death in World War I of David Ker (1893-1918), son of John and Ellen Ker. Included are about 50 letters comprising David Ker's correspondence with his mother, 1911-1918, and several letters, 1911-1918, from David Ker to his cousin, Pamela Thomas (later Faber).

Also included is correspondence of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn (d. 1960), daughter of John and Ellen Ker. Much of this correspondence concerns her views, 1957-1959, on politics and social conditions in Haiti, and her interest in psychoanalysis. More than 30 letters and papers were written by Carl Alfred Meier, with whom Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn underwent analysis in Switzerland in the 1930s. Other correspondents of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn include her mother; her husband Howard F. Schermerhorn; and Roger Baldwin, a member of the International League for the Rights of Man, 1957-1959.

Correspondence, 1779-1882, includes letters of John Brownson Ker's parents, David Ker (1825-1884) and Elizabeth Brownson Ker, and other ancestors, relatives, and connections, most of whom were planters in Louisiana. The earliest letters, 1779-1830, are papers of James Stelle, his wife Margaret Watts Stelle, and father-in-law Stephen Watts. These people are ancestors of Elizabeth Brownson Ker's mother, Caroline Stelle Brownson. Most of the letters concern the lower Mississippi River area while it was under Spanish and British control. Papers, 1834-1882, are mainly correspondence of David Ker. Among the correspondents are his wife and daughters, his parents, his grandmother, his son John Brownson Ker. Among the papers of the 1850s are bills of sale for slaves, bills for dry-goods, and bills for physician's fees.

Most of the writings are psychological and sociological writings of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn. Reports on the situation in Haiti, 1957-1959, are filed in folder 22. Included are evidence against the New York Times's reporting there and material on Project Jacmel. Other writings include short stories and longer fiction and writings by others.

Folder 1

Biographical and genealogical data #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 1

Folder 2-5

Folder 2

Folder 3

Folder 4

Folder 5

Correspondence, 1779-1883 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 2-5

Folder 6-8

Folder 6

Folder 7

Folder 8

Correspondence, 1885-1917 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 6-8

Folder 9-11

Folder 9

Folder 10

Folder 11

Correspondence, 1918 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 9-11

Folder 12-16

Folder 12

Folder 13

Folder 14

Folder 15

Folder 16

Correspondence, 1919-1960 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 12-16

Folder 17-19

Folder 17

Folder 18

Folder 19

Undated letters and papers and fragments #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 17-19

Folder 20

"Psychological Revolutionaries" #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 20

Folder 21

"Beyond Nihilism" #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 21

Folder 22

Reports on Haiti, 1957-1959 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 22

Folder 23-26

Folder 23

Folder 24

Folder 25

Folder 26

Writings by Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 23-26

Folder 27-28

Folder 27

Folder 28

Short stories and fiction by Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 27-28

Folder 29

Writings by others #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 29

Folder 30

Clippings: David Ker (1893-1918) #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 30

Folder 31

Clippings: Psychology #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 31

Folder 32

Clippings: Haiti #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 32

Folder 33

Clippings: Fountain House #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 33

Folder 34

Obituaries #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 34

Folder 35

Miscellaneous clippings #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 35

Folder 35a

Fountain House brochure and Sotheby's catalog. #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 35a

Acquisitions Information: Addition of May 1989 (Acc. 89041)

Folder 36

Volume 1. Ellen Burke Ker, 1901-1945 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 36

Poems, meditations, thoughts. Copies of letters and clippings up to 1951. First pages missing. No apparent order.

Folder 37-41

Folder 37

Folder 38

Folder 39

Folder 40

Folder 41

Volumes 2-6. Ellen Burke Ker,1950-1954 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 37-41

Occasional thoughts written on the backs of check stubs in used checkbooks. Also clippings on MacArthur incident (in volume 3) and presidential campaign of 1952 (in volume 4).

Folder 42

Volume 7. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, 1919 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 42

Occasion diary of trip to France to see her brother David's grave.

Folder 43

Volume 8. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, undated notebook #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 43

Contains psychology notes and expense accounts.

Folder 44

Volume 9. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 44

Undated notebook and occasional diary entries. Thoughts and notes on trips to Europe. Several pages in the style of her mother.

Folder 45

Volume 10. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, April 1937-November 1940 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 45

Notebook of descriptions of her dreams.

Folder 46

Volume 11. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 46

Envelopes containing note cards on psychology, myths, and religion, plus part of bibliography of same subjects.

Folder 47

Volume 12. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, Notes on Spengler's The Decline of the West #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 47

Folder 48

Volume 13. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, Notes on psychological subjects #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 48

Folder 49

Volume 14. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, Miscellaneous notes #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 49

3 pages.

Folder 50

Volume 15. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, Scratchbook with notes on Cuba #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 50

Folder 51-54

Folder 51

Folder 52

Folder 53

Folder 54

Volumes 16-19. Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, Notes on Haiti, 1957-1959 #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 51-54

Folder 55

Letter from father to John Brownson Ker #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 55

Acquisitions Information: Addition of 2017 (Acc. 103147)

Folder 56

David Ker's Air Corps training notebook #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 56

Acquisitions Information: Addition of 2017 (Acc. 103147)

Folder 57

The David Ker Story #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 57

Acquisitions Information: Addition of 2017 (Acc. 103147)

Folder 58

David Ker genealogy #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" Folder 58

Acquisitions Information: Addition of 2017 (Acc. 103147)

Image Folder PF-3901/1

Photographs of David Ker (1893-1918) #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" PF-3901/1

Image Folder PF-3901/2

Photographs of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn (d. 1960) #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" PF-3901/2

Image Folder PF-3901/3

Family photographs #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" PF-3901/3

Image Folder PF-3901/4-5

PF-3901/4

PF-3901/5

Miscellaneous photographs #03901, Series: "Papers, 1779-2017" PF-3901/4-5

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Image folders PF-3901/1-5

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Processing Information

Processed by: Dwight D. Oland, 1970

Encoded by: Linda Sellars

Updated by: Laura Hart, August 2021

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