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   Jack Kerouac Papers 1945-1971.

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Preferred Citation

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

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

Summary Information


Novelist and member of the Beat Generation. The collection includes a small amount of correspondence, manuscript material and ephemera by and relating to Jack Kerouac.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#0708
Bib ID:4078982 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969.
Title:Jack Kerouac Papers 1945-1971.
Physical description:.5 linear ft. (1 document box)
Language(s): Material is in English.
Access: This collection is located on-site. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »



This collection is arranged in II series:

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Scope and Content

This is a collection of material related to Jack Kerouac pulled together from various sources and donors. It includes correspondence and ephemera as well as manuscripts of small poems and prose fragments and proofs of Desolation Angels and Tristessa.

Series I: Correspondence, 1945-1971

This series consists of letters sent to Kerouac by friends and associates, as well as letters sent by Kerouac to fans and admirers. This series also consists of a few letters about the author sent to and from Kerouac’s family and acquaintances. These include 35 letters of William Burroughs to Jack Kerouac which deal with his daily life and thoughts in Louisiana, Mexico, and Morocco, with his writings and those of Kerouac, and with their mutual friends including Allen Ginsberg. Several examples of Burroughs' experimental prose are included.

Series II: Manuscripts and Miscellaneous, 1960-1965 and undated

This series consists of a small number of manuscripts of Kerouac’s poetry and prose fragments as well as proofs of two of Kerouac's novels, Desolation Angels and Tristessa. This series also includes clippings and reviews and some of Kerouac's published work. It includes Big Table 1 which contains the first installment of Kerouac's "Old Angel Midnight" as well as Evergreen Review no.33 which contains the second installment. There is also a memorial portrait of Kerouac by Robert LaVigne

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

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

Related Material-- At Columbia

William S. Burroughs Papers Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Related Material-- Other Repositories

Jack Kerouac Papers, 1920-1977, bulk (1935-1969). Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature New York Public 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 07/--/89 Christina Hilton Fenn

Processed 03/--/2010 Carrie Hintz

Finding aid written 03/--/2010 Carrie Hintz

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion March 11, 2010 Finding aid written in English.
    2010-03-11 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.

All links open new windows.

Additional Creators

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Authors, American.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
American literature--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Beat generation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bohemianism--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Louisiana--Description and travel.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lucey, Ellen.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mexico--Description and travel.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Morocco--Description and travel.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Jack Kerouac, born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac, was born in 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts to French Canadian parents. Kerouac spent much of his youth engaged in sports and other physical activities. His athletic prowess earned him a football scholarship to Columbia University where he matriculated in 1940, but he left Columbia in the Fall of 1941 after sustaining an injury that left him unable to play football.

Upon leaving the University Kerouac joined the Merchant Marine and later the US Navy, but retained close ties to members of the Columbia community. He lived on Manhattan's Upper West Side with his girlfriend, later first wife, Barnard student Edie Parker and her friend Joan Vollmer. It was through Parker that Kerouac met Columbia students Allen Ginsberg and Lucien Carr and their friends William Burroughs and Herbert Huncke. This group of friends and writers which would later form the nucleus of the Beat Generation, was the inspiration for much of Kerouac's work.

Kerouac married Edie Parker in 1944 and moved with her to her home in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, but their marriage lasted less than a year. Upon the annulment of the marriage, Kerouac returned to New York and his bohemian friends and began to write the novel which would become The Town and the City -- this novel, Kerouac's first, was published in 1950 to mild acclaim.

Kerouac's next novel, On the Road proved to be much more commercially and critically successful. This novel, published in 1957 documents a trip Kerouac took across the US and Northern Mexico with Neal Cassady. This fictionalized account of Kerouac and his friends introduced the beats to America solidified the image of the beatnik with his interest in sexual freedom, jazz, and drug use in the popular imagination.

Though Kerouac's goal had long been to be a writer, the success of On the Road never sat entirely well with its author. Kerouac continued to write his thinly veiled autobiographical novels chronicling his bohemian, literary circle of friends, but in his personal life he began to pull away from the public eye and distance himself from his Beat Generation associated. He moved to Northport, Long Island to care for his aging parents and growing more personally and politically conservative.

Kerouac died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1969.

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