Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Arrangement of the Collection

Restrictions

Access Terms

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Short Stories

Notes

Business Correspondence

Personal Correspondence

Southern Methodist University

Alvah Milton Kerr family papers

A Guide to the Collection



Overview

Creator: Kerr, Alvah Milton, 1858-1924
Title: Alvah Milton Kerr family papers
Inclusive Dates: 1864-1964
Abstract: Alvah Milton Kerr was an author of popular adventure stories in the late 1890s and early 1900s. His pulp writings were published in newspapers and magazines, and some were eventually bought for screenplays. Alvah Milton Kerr and his family were extremely involved in the theosophy movement in the United States. The Alvah Milton Kerr family papers consist of Alvah Milton Kerr, Hallie Kerr and Walter Sinclair’s stories, Alvah Milton Kerr and Hallie Kerr’s notes, and business and personal correspondence covering the years between 1900 and 1962. This collection illustrates the career of a popular writer and his family, many of whom were also writers, during the early to mid 1900s. It also shows the progress and inner workings of the theosophy movement both in America and abroad, as Hallie Kerr, Enid Sinclair, and Lois Schedler all corresponded with prominent figures in the movement who traveled to spread their beliefs.
Accession No: A2004.0003
Extent: 9 boxes (4.5 linear feet)
Language: Material is in English
Repository DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Alvah Milton Kerr was an author of adventure stories in the 1890s and early 1900s. His works were published in magazines throughout the early 1900s and were quite popular. A few of Alvah Milton Kerr’s most famous stories were, "A Mormon Wife", "Ban Ootah’s Way", and "Disarming at Broad Gap." His novel An Honest Lawyer also brought him fame in the 1890s. Shortly before his death in 1924 he wrote the Truth is Greater than Fiction series, a group of stories based on fact that was published in various newspapers throughout the United States. Additionally, Kerr and his family were very involved in the theosophy movement in the United States. Their influence continued into the 1960s.

Alvah Milton Kerr was best known by Milton. He was married twice, and had a daughter named Enid Kerr with his first wife, Florence. Enid married Ernest Ohrenstein and shortened the name to "Orren" for herself. She and Ernest had a child named Ernest Milton Ohrenstein, who they called Milton after his grandfather Kerr. Enid divorced Ohrenstein and later married Walter Sinclair, with whom she had two children, Elaine and Lois Sinclair. In the meantime, Alvah Milton married Harriet Sinclair, nicknamed Hallie, who was Walter’s older sister. Alvah Milton Kerr died in 1924. Elaine Sinclair married Myron Firth and eventually adopted Donald and Lois Ann, named for her sister. Lois Sinclair married Clayton Schedler and had a son named Clayton, or Clay, who died before he reached adulthood.

Hallie Sinclair Kerr and Enid Orren Sinclair helped to found theosophy lodges throughout California, the Midwest, and the Northeast. The family maintained correspondence with missionaries of theosophy who went to India, France, and England to spread their faith. Many of the family’s letters and notes show how they applied their faith as theosophists to their everyday life. The application of faith is especially evident in Lois’s letters, as she uses theosophy to console herself after the death of her young son Clay.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of Alvah Milton Kerr consist of several of Alvah Milton Kerr, Hallie Kerr and Walter Sinclair’s stories, Alvah Milton Kerr and Hallie Kerr’s notes, and business and personal correspondence covering the years between 1900 and 1962. It includes notes Alvah Milton and his wife Harriet took over fictional, historical, and theosophical literature.

The short stories include edited drafts, publications, and a few business letters and notes that illustrate the changes movies brought to the business of entertainment literature. The notes are excerpts from books Alvah Milton and Hallie found inspirational or helpful and personal thoughts and musings.

Much of the personal correspondence is between Alvah Milton Kerr’s daughter Enid and Walter Sinclair, who wrote love letters to each other almost daily between September 1904 and August 1905, when they were married. Additionally, a large amount of the correspondence is between Lois Schedler and her parents Walter and Enid, to whom she wrote at least once a week for nearly forty years (1920-1960). These letters show the progress of the theosophy movement, as well as the roles of this family and their friends in the movement. As many of these years were marked by loss and struggle, the application of the theosophic faith is particularly evident.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into four series:
Series I: Short Stories
Series II: Notes
Series III: Business Correspondence
Series IV: Personal Correspondence, 1900-1964

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Restrictions

Access to Collection:

Collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.

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Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Kerr, Hallie Sinclair.
Sinclair, Walter.
Sinclair, Enid Orren.
Schedler, Lois Sinclair.
Theosophists--United States--Correspondence.
Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence.
Adventure stories, American.
Theosophy.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Alvah Milton Kerr family papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Acquisition Information

Gift.

Processing Information

The Alvah Milton Kerr family papers were received in no discernable order. During their processing, the collection was divided into separate files for personal correspondence, business papers, notes, and stories. Folded documents were flattened, and the papers were arranged chronologically by topic, placed in acid-free folders, and stored in acid-free boxes.

The 1919 work "The Avenger's Strange Story" was moved from box 3 to box 1 in 2012 by Cynthia Franco.

Processed by

Amanda Coleman, 2005

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2005. Cynthia Franco, 2012.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series I:
Short Stories
3 boxes

This series contains both edited and published drafts of stories by Alvah Milton Kerr. It also contains one published story by Walter Sinclair, and several works by Hallie Sinclair, some of which were published. The stories by each author are arranged separately, as close to chronological publication order as possible. However, many of the stories by both Hallie and Alvah Milton do not have any apparent publication date, and are located in the back of each author’s works.
Box Folder
1 Alvah M. Kerr’s stories published between 1900 and 1921
1 "Little Hallelujah’s Convert" by Alvah Milton Kerr
2 "A Tramp’s Sacrifice" by Alvah Milton Kerr
3 "Two Men of Might" by Alvah Milton Kerr
4 "A Condemned Hero" by Alvah Milton Kerr
5 "Dippy Hamilton’s Magic" by Alvah Milton Kerr
6 "The Monarch’s Fall" by Alvah Milton Kerr
7 "Hitting the Sky Grades" by Alvah Milton Kerr
8 "Two Aspirants," edited draft, by Alvah Milton Kerr
9 "Two Aspirants," publication, by Alvah Milton Kerr
10 "The Branded Man’s Gift" by Alvah Milton Kerr
11 "Nugget’s Stolen Church" by Alvah Milton Kerr
12 "The Revolt of Nolan" or "Nolan’s Revolt," edited draft, by Alvah Milton Kerr
13 "The Revolt of Nolan," publication, by Alvah Milton Kerr
Box Folder
3 14 "The Avenger’s Strange Story" by Alvah Milton Kerr
Box Folder
1 15 "The Debt" by Alvah Milton Kerr
16 "The Recoil," edited draft, by Alvah Milton Kerr
17 "The Recoil," publication, by Alvah Milton Kerr
18 "The Holy Terror," edited draft, by Alvah Milton Kerr
19 "The Holy Terror," publication, by Alvah Milton Kerr
20 "Mouth-Organ Tim" by Alvah Milton Kerr
Box Folder
2 Alvah M. Kerr’s stories published between 1922 and 1929, Harriet S. Kerr’s poems and stories, Walter Sinclair’s story
1 "Disarming at Broad Gap," edited draft, by Alvah Milton Kerr
2 "Disarming at Broad Gap," publication, by Alvah Milton Kerr
3 "How I Killed a King" by Alvah Milton Kerr
4 "Ban Ootah’s Way" by Alvah Milton Kerr
5 Truth Is Stranger than Fiction series by Alvah Milton Kerr
6 "The King’s Enemy" by Alvah Milton Kerr
7 "A Voice in the Night" by Harriet S. Kerr
8 "For His People" by Alvah Milton Kerr
9 "The Crepe de China Torch" by Alvah Milton Kerr
10 "The Song of India," 18 pages, by Harriet S. Kerr
11 "The Song of India," 19 pages, by Harriet S. Kerr
12 "The Song of India," 21 pages, by Harriet S. Kerr
13 "Declines to State" by Harriet S. Kerr
14 "To My Little Winged Victory," poem, by Harriet S. Kerr
15 "The Great Laughter" by Harriet S. Kerr
16 "The Prince and the Beautiful One" by Harriet S. Kerr
17 "In Life’s First Springtime" by Harriet S. Kerr
19 "Voices of the Past" by Walter Sinclair
Box Folder
3 Alvah M. Kerr’s stories of unknown publication date
1 "The Wrath of the Sea" by Alvah Milton Kerr
2 "Whitelaw of the Arctic" by Alvah Milton Kerr
3 "The Way of Wrath," edited draft, by Alvah Milton Kerr
4 "Under the Draw" by Alvah Milton Kerr
5 "Squaring a Triangle" by Alvah Milton Kerr
6 "The Second Mother" by Alvah Milton Kerr
7 "The Raid Supreme" by Alvah Milton Kerr
8 "A Mormon Wife" by Alvah Milton Kerr
9 "The Luck of the Northern Mail" by Alvah Milton Kerr
10 "Love and the Radio Supreme" by Alvah Milton Kerr
11 "The Long Lake Stag" by Alvah Milton Kerr
12 "In Front of the Stampede" by Alvah Milton Kerr
13 "The Fool Stunt Man" by Alvah Milton Kerr
14 "By Paths of Flame" by Alvah Milton Kerr
15 "A Slain Woman’s Soul" by Alvah Milton Kerr
16 "Red Buckle’s Grip," edited draft, by Alvah Milton Kerr
17 "By the Pearl Pools" or "The Base Pearls," edited draft, by Alvah Milton Kerr
18 "Into the Open Draw," edited draft, by Alvah Milton Kerr

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Series II:
Notes
2 boxes

This series contains one notebook used by Alvah Milton Kerr to make notes for his stories and make note of passages from literature he thought important. The majority of the series consists of Hallie Kerr’s notes. Hallie copied book excerpts extensively in notebooks and on loose leaf paper. She also kept notebooks of daily musings. Finally, there is one notebook in which Enid Sinclair kept notes of daily events in her life from 1936 to 1949. Arrangement is by author, as most of these documents are undated.
Box Folder
4 1 Alvah Milton Kerr’s notebook
2 Harriet S. Kerr (Hallie)’s notebooks of book excerpts
3 Harriet S. Kerr’s notebooks of book excerpts
4 Harriet S. Kerr’s journals
5 Enid Sinclair’s personal day log
6 Books, magazines, and programs belonging to the family
7 Books, magazines, and programs belonging to the family
8 Books, magazines, and programs belonging to the family
9 Newspaper clippings related to the family
10 Harriet Kerr’s sorority photo and poem
Box Folder
9 7 Harriet Kerr’s notes on theosophy on loose leaf paper
8 Astrological clippings and predictions
9 Harriet S. Kerr’s book excerpts on loose leaf paper
10 Harriet S. Kerr’s notebooks of book excerpts
11 Harriet S. Kerr’s notebooks of book excerpts
12 Harriet S. Kerr’s notebooks of book excerpts
13 Harriet S. Kerr’s notebooks of book excerpts

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Series III:
Business Correspondence
1 box

This series consists primarily of letters between Hallie Kerr and publishers regarding the publication of Alvah Milton’s work. It contains several story outlines, or briefs, for Alvah Milton’s stories, and two listings of the magazines in which his stories were published. Finally, there is a collection of letterhead published by the Boyce Newspaper Company that is decorated with Alvah Milton Kerr’s picture and a list of stories he wrote. This section also contains a theosophy lesson plan and a program sent to the family by their associates, with whom they were leading several theosophy lodges. Arrangement is chronological by topic.
Box Folder
4 11 Theosophy lesson plans
12 Harriet S. Kerr’s log of business transactions
13 Alvah M. Kerr’s business letters and indexes
14 Alvah M. Kerr’s letterhead
15 Greeting Cards
16 Calling card and other ephemera

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Series IV:
Personal Correspondence
5 boxes

This series contains letters between a variety of people, including Alvah Milton and Hallie Kerr, Enid and Walter Sinclair, and Lois Schedler and Enid Sinclair. There is also a fairly large collection of letters to Lois, Enid, and Hallie from theosophists of varying degrees of importance. Many of these letters relate to the founding of lodges in the United States and abroad. The letters are organized based on sender and receiver and are in roughly chronological order. Within each folder letters are arranged chronologically.
Box Folder
5 1 Letters from Alvah Milton and Harriet S. (Hallie) Kerr to family, 1900-1903
2 Letters from Alvah Milton Kerr and Hallie to Enid and family, 1905-1910
3 Letters from Alvah Milton and Hallie Kerr to Enid and family, 1911-1924
4 Letters between Alvah Milton and Hallie Kerr, 1911
5 Letters from Hallie Kerr to Enid and family, 1931-1962
6 Letters from Enid Sinclair and family to Alvah Milton and Hallie Kerr, 1903-1925
7 Letters from Enid Sinclair and family to her mother Florence and Aunt Ida 1905-1931
8 Letters from Enid’s mother Florence to Enid, 1907-1912
9 Correspondence between Enid and first husband Ernest Ohrenstein, 1903
10 Letters from Enid’s children to Enid, 1906-1928
11 Theosophy letters from B.P.W., Sophie Wadia and others, 1911-1933
12 Theosophy letters from B.P.W., Sophie Wadia, Grace Clough, and others, 1947-1964
Box Folder
6 1 Letters between Walter Sinclair and Enid K. Orren, later Enid Sinclair, September 1904
2 Letters between Walter Sinclair and Enid, October 1904
3 Letters between Walter and Enid, November 1904
4 Letters between Walter and Enid, December 1904
5 Letters between Walter and Enid, January through March 1905
6 Letters between Walter and Enid, April 1905
Box Folder
7 1 Letters between Walter Sinclair and Enid K. Orren, May 1-15, 1905
2 Letters between Walter and Enid, May 16-31, 1905
3 Letters between Walter and Enid, June 1-15, 1905
4 Letters between Walter and Enid, June 16-31, 1905
5 Letters between Walter and Enid, July 1-15, 1905
6 Letters between Walter and Enid, July 16-31, 1905
7 Letters between Walter Sinclair and Enid Orren-Sinclair, August 1905-1925
Box Folder
8 1 Letters from Lois Schedler and family to Enid and Walter Sinclair, 1931-1935
2 Letters from Lois and family to Enid and Walter, 1936-1940
3 Letters from Lois and family to Enid and Walter, 1941-1944
4 Letters from Lois and family to Enid and Walter, 1945-1950
5 Letters from Lois and family to Enid and Walter, 1951-1962
6 Letters from Walter and Enid to Lois and Clayton, largely regarding the death of their son Clay, 1951-1961
Box Folder
9 1 Letters from Elaine S. Firth to Enid and Walter Sinclair, 1924-1927
2 Letters from Elaine and family to Enid and Walter, 1928-1931
3 Letters from Elaine and family to Enid and Walter, 1931-1933
4 Letters from Milton and Julie Ohrenstein to Enid and Walter Sinclair, 1948
5 Letters from other family and friends 1905-1945
6 Letters from unidentified persons and undated letters

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