Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment only, limited to UMN affiliates. Appointments must be made one week in advance of your visit. Contact or the curator of the collecting area you wish to use for assistance. We continue to provide scans of requested research materials when possible, especially for our non-campus clientele.

Welcome to the Kerlan Collection

The Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota is one of the world's great children's literature archives. The Collection includes books, original manuscripts and illustrations, and related materials. The materials in the Collection are studied by teachers, librarians, students, authors, illustrators, translators, and critics from Minnesota and around the world.

The Kerlan Collection contains more than 100,000 children's books as well as original manuscripts, artwork, galleys, and color proofs, and other production materials for 1,700 authors and illustrators. A large number of books in the collection are inscribed by the author or illustrator. The Collection includes books that are significant in the history of children's literature, award books, classics, and representative books from around the world.

In addition to securing and preserving materials and maintaining a research collection for scholarly use, the Kerlan Collection sponsors lectures and programs. It also mounts exhibits locally and loans materials for exhibits nationally and internationally.

To search for books, using the on-line catalog, you must use the University of Minnesota's libraries catalog. The libraries catalog is a catalog for the all of the University's libraries, and any books in our collection have the location "TC Andersen Library Children's Lit." For archival collections, including original manuscripts and art, please browse our complete list of online Collection Guides or search our database here.


The Kerlan Collection was established in the 1940's by University of Minnesota alumnus Dr. Irvin Kerlan (1912-1963). Dr. Kerlan was long time chief of medical research for the U.S. Food and Drug Aministration in Washington D.C., and an authority on toxicity and related matters. He collected rare books as a hobby and soon turned to children's books.

Dr. Kerlan chose what was best and representative of each current year and, when he could afford it, bought children's classics and past Newbery winners. It was not long before he took his collection one step further, pursuing the background material that went into making the books. He wrote letters to authors and illustrators, and they replied by forwarding their original manuscripts, artwork, and selected correspondence with editors and children.

From his collection, Dr. Kerlan organized exhibitions and shipped them to libraries and art galleries in North America, Europe, and the Far East. In 1949, he made arrangements with the University of Minnesota, his Alma Mater, to provide a permanent home for his collection. Dr. Kerlan was just 51 years old when he was killed in a traffic accident in 1963. Since then, the  Children's Literature Research Collections and the University of Minnesota Libraries have supervised collection development.

Kerlan Collection Resources

Collection Guides - An inventory of all authors and illustrator's original material held in the Kerlan Collection

Newsletters - View current and past Kerlan Collection newsletters 

Kerlan Friends - Learn about the Kerlan Friends, including membership information.

 illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. Unpublished.
The Tenggren Fairy Book: illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. Unpublished.

Dr. Irvin Kerlan
Dr. Irvin Kerlan