Robert F. Kerr Papers

Robert Floyd Kerr portrait

Identity elements

Reference code

UA 053.006

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Robert F. Kerr Papers


  • 1881-1931 (Accumulation)


0.84 linear feet (2 document cases)

Name of creator


Biographical history

Robert Floyd Kerr was born April 12, 1850 at Sugar Grove, Indiana. He attended Wabash College and later DePauw University, where he graduated in 1877. After teaching in Indiana for 2 years, he taught English and Mathematics at Hirosaki, Japan in 1879. Upon his return to the United States in 1880, Kerr taught again throughout the Midwest, settling finally in Brookings in 1885, where he was professor of political economy and Principal of the Preparatory Department. In 1892, he was ousted from the college and went to Illinois to work but he returned to Brookings in 1898, this time as Librarian and Principal of the Preparatory Department. / In addition to these roles, he also served as steward and manager of a boarding club, ran the men's dormitory and acted as advisor to the Dakota Agricultural Cadets, the military organization on campus. In addition to his work on the SDSU campus, Kerr was also active in Brookings. He was instrumental in founding the Forum, a men's association in town, and he was active with the Masons. In 1905, Kerr accepted a position as private Secretary to Governor Elrod. In 1911 and 1913, he served on the South Dakota legislature. In his later years, he lived in Brookings, edited a farm paper and remained active in many community organizations. He died October 16, 1921.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection represents what can only be a portion of items from Kerr's personal files. They consist mainly of correspondence, but also include some diaries and writings, ledgers, class records and even Kerr's 1879 traveling papers for his stay in Japan. The bulk of the material is correspondence, which is both personal and related to his work at the university. Some of the letters chronicle his dismissal from the university, which is an integral part of the early history of South Dakota State University.

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Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open to researchers without restrictions. The materials in the Archives do not circulate and may be used in-house only.

Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.

Languages of the material

  • English

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Finding aids

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General note

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Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)




UA 53.6

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