Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Lucien Carr papers, 1951-1975

Summary Information


A founding member of the Beat Generation, Carr was a friend of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and other beat writers, and attended Columbia University in 1944. The Lucien Carr Papers contain correspondence with prominent Beat writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, as well as some clippings and ephemera.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0201
Bib ID 4078588 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Carr, Lucien, 1925-2005
Title Lucien Carr papers, 1951-1975
Physical Description 0.5 linear feet (1 manuscript box)
Language(s) English .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in two series.



The Lucien Carr papers contain Carr's correspondence, primarily with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, as well as clippings, book reviews, and articles relating to Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, and other Beat Generation figures.

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1956-1973

    The correspondence series contains letters, telegrams, and postcards sent to Carr from his friends Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Some of these letters include fragments of works in progress, such as the Ginsberg letter that includes an early draft of the first section of "Howl: For Carl Solomon." Many of Kerouac's letters take the form of poems.

  • Series II: Printed Material and Ephemera, 1951-1973

    The printed Material and Ephemera series is comprised of clippings, articles, publications, and book reviews relating to members of the Beat Generation and their work. Also included are three small photographs, two of Allen Ginsberg and one of William Burroughs, and a typed copy of the Buddhist text The Diamond Sutra that was owned by Jack Kerouac.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Lucien Carr papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--1977. Accession number--M-77.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 04/17/89.

Papers processed Henry Rowen 07/1977.

Papers reprocessed Carrie Hintz 08/2009.

Revision Description

2009-08-14 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Manuscripts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
American literature -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
American poetry -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Beats (Persons) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bohemianism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Carr, Lucien, 1925-2005 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Students Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cru, Henri Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poets, American -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Lucien Carr was born in New York City in 1925, but spent most of his childhood in St. Louis, Missouri. It was in St. Louis that he first met Washington University instructor David Kammerer and Kammerer's childhood friend William S. Burroughs.

After graduating from Andover Academy, Carr briefly enrolled in Bowdoin College, but soon transferred to the University of Chicago, where he stayed for two semesters until an apparent suicide attempt caused him to be briefly institutionalized. His mother, living in New York at the time, convinced Carr to transfer to Columbia University. At Columbia, Carr, a brilliant student, befriended his Columbia dormmate Allen Ginsberg and recent graduate, Jack Kerouac. He introduced Ginsberg and Kerouac to one another and to William Burroughs, who, along with Kammerer, had moved to New York in Carr's wake. The intelligent and charismatic Carr quickly became the ringleader of the group of friends-- introducing them to the sensualist poetry of Rimbaud and encouraging their exploration of Greenwich Village clubs.

This period of Carr's life ended abruptly when, after a night of drinking, Kammerer made increasingly persistent and aggressive sexual advances on Carr in Riverside Park. The situation became violent and resulted in Carr stabbing and killing Kammerer. He was convicted of manslaughter and served two years in prison for the crime.

Though Carr was instrumental in the bringing together the key players who would form the core of the Beat Generation, he later remained on the periphery of the movement. He valued his privacy, and asked that his name not be mentioned in press relating to the beats and even requesting that Allen Ginsberg remove his name from the dedication of "Howl." Though he moved out of the spotlight, he remained close with his college friends, supporting Kerouac and Ginsberg throughout their careers, including briefly allowing Kerouac to live with him and his wife while Kerouac worked on the manuscript for On the Road.

He married Francesca (Cessa) van Hartz and took a job at United Press International where he worked as an editor for the entirety of his 47-year career in the news business. He and Francesca had three children-- Simon, Ethan and the writer Caleb Carr before they divorced.

Carr died of complications of bone cancer in 2005.