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   Lucien Carr Papers, 1951-1975.

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Preferred Citation

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

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

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 ft. (1 document box and 3 oversize folders).
Language(s):In English
Access: This collection is located on-site.  More information »



This collection is arranged in two series:

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Scope and Content

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.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

This collection is located on-site.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Librarian for Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Preferred Citation

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

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Cataloged 04/17/89 Christina Hilton Fenn

Papers processed 07/1977 Henry Rowen

Papers reprocessed 08/2009 Carrie Hintz

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion August 14, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-08-14 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

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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.

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HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
American literature--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American poetry--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Beat Generation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Carr, Lucien, 1925-2005.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Students.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cru, Henri.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Poets, American--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

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.

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