University Libraries

Andersen Library

December 1, 2015
8:30am - 4:30pm

Kerlan Collection

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 Unpublished.The Tenggren Fairy Book: illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. Unpublished.

Dr. Irvin KerlanDr. Irvin Kerlan

Welcome to the Kerlan Collection

The Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota is one of the world's great children's literature research collections. The Collection includes books, original manuscripts and illustrations, and many related materials. The materials in the Collection are studied by teachers, librarians, students, authors, illustrators, translators, and critics who come from Minnesota and other states as well as from many foreign countries.

The Kerlan Collection presently contains more than 100,000 children’s books as well as original manuscripts, artwork, galleys, and color proofs for more than 12,000 children’s books. One-eighth of the books 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 Great Britain, Australia, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany and others.

Also included are over 300 periodical titles and more than 1,200 reference titles as well as many other items including letters, posters, toys, photographs, audiovisuals, publishers' catalogs, and even a figurine collection.

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. A portion of its catalog of original materials has been entered into our website.

All the material is accessible to anyone, who needs to consult it, but use by readers is confined to the reading room, where attendants bring requested material. A card catalogue as well as an on-line catalogue of holdings is kept in the reading room (not all of our material is on the on-line catalogue). To search for material, using the on-line catalogue, you must use the University of Minnesota's MNCAT and pay close attention to the location of the material, as MNCAT is a catalogue for the all of the University's libraries. Our location is "TC Andersen Library Children's Lit".

The collection is available for the use in the Andersen Library under certain restrictions. Inquires may be made to the Children's Literature Research Collections.



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, and the transfer was undertaken at once. Dr. Kerlan was just 51 years old when he was killed in a traffic accident. Since then, University of Minnesota libraries have provided staff to supervise collection development.

kerlan collection resources

Kerlan Collection Finding Aids - An inventory of all authors and illustrator's original material held in the Kerlan Collection (over 1,500 finding aids).

Newsletters - View current and past Kerlan Collection newsletters (HTML and PDF formats).

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

Charles Mikolaycak - Two essays on the life and work of illustrator Charles Mikolaycak.