Kerlan Collection

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 over 1,700 authors and illustrators.

About the Kerlan Collection

The Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota is one of the world's great children's literature archives. It includes books that are significant in the history of children's literature, award books, classics, and representative books from around the world, a large number of which are inscribed by the creators.

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 for them directly in our online database.

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About Dr. Irvin Kerlan

The Kerlan Collection was established in the 1940s 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 Administration 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 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 Asia. 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 Kerlan Collection of Children's Literature and the University of Minnesota Libraries have supervised collection development.

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Information and resources

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