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Robert S. Kerr Collection

Identifier: CAC-CC-031
The Kerr Collection consists of over 368 linear feet of materials, the majority of which includes materials generated during his years in the Senate, though the Gubernatorial series does relate to his years as Oklahoma’s governor.

As a Senator, Kerr was involved in a variety of issues and reforms of national and state prominence including conservation projects, the development of the space program, Native Americans issues and concerns, healthcare insurance reform, and agriculture. In addition to the materials related to these topics, the Photographs, Space and Aeronautics Memorabilia, and Speeches series are of particular note. With nearly 3,000 photographs, the Kerr Photographs series contains wonderful images of the Senator, Oklahoma, conservation projects across the nation, and the early years of the space program. Kerr also collected a variety of model rockets preserved in the Space and Aeronautics Memorabilia series.

One of the most valuable parts of the collection includes Kerr’s work on infastructure projects. Responsible for massive federal investment in projects throughout Oklahoma, Kerr's office retained a wide variety of materials related to many of these projects, including: correspondence, maps, and photographic documentation of progress on many of these endeavours.


  • 1871-1970
  • Majority of material found in 1931-1962

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Certain series of this collection are stored off-site and require prior notice to access. If you wish to view these materials, please contact the Congressional Archives staff to arrange an appointment.

The following series are stored off-site: Clippings and Invitations.

Conditions Governing Use:

The University of Oklahoma asserts no claim of copyright over photographs in this collection taken by private citizens. Any publication of such photographs requires the consent of the copyright holder.


368.29 Linear Feet (296 containers)

Biographical Information:

Robert S. Kerr was born on September 11, 1896 in Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, near what would become the town of Ada. He atteneded East Central Normal School and later, for a time, the University of Oklahoma, where he studied law until poverty forced him to abandon his studies. With the onset of U.S. involvement in World War I he was commissioned as a second lieutenant, but never saw combat. He would later pass the bar in Oklahoma after studying under a local judge in Ada.

Kerr first held elective office when he became Oklahoma's governor in 1942. A year after leaving the governor's office, he was successful in his first attempt at the U.S. Senate in 1948. After a failed attempt to secure the 1952 Democratic presidential nomination, Kerr devoted his energies to building his Senate career. He 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. Via his position in the Senate, he would go on to advocate key domestic programs, including NASA.

A founder of Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Kerr also became known as a key champion of southwestern oil and gas interests. Through his efforts, 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.

Kerr died unexpectedly, while still in office, on January 1, 1963.

Arrangement of Materials:

The Kerr Collection is arranged into 16 series:

1. Gubernatorial

2. Conservation

3. Legislative

4. Political and Campaign

5. Departmental

6. Topical

7. Speeches

8. Printed Materials

9. Correspondence

10. Addition

11. Invitations

12. Clippings

13. Oversize

14. Maps

15. Photographs

16. Space and Aeronautics Memorabilia.

The materials within each series are largely organized alphabetically by topic or organization and then chronologically, though some of the subseries may be arranged differently. The specific details for the arrangement of many of the subseries are unclear.

Preservica Internal URL

Preservica Public URL Preservica Access


Accruals and additions: January 19, 1957; February 1957; 1957-1958; September 19, 1977; March 1979; April 3, 1981; November 15, 1981; November 16, 1981; December 1981; March 4, 1982.

Related Materials:

See also the Malvina Stephenson Collection, Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives.
Guide to the Robert S. Kerr Collection
Finding Aid Authors: Heather M. Bateman.
Language of description
The collection description/finding aid is written in English
  • TypeCollection

Repository Details

Part of the Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections Repository

630 Parrington Oval
Room 202B
Norman Oklahoma 73109 United States