Emory library acquires collection of Jack Kerouac papers, photographs

The beat goes on for Emory University's renamed Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, which announced Thursday that it has acquired a significant collection related to Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac.

Purchased from Kerouac’s brother-in-law John Sampas, the collection includes photographs of the novelist-poet from 1939 to the end of his life in 1969 and extensive correspondence with fellow Beat writer Neal Cassady. Cassady was the model for the free-spirited Dean Moriarty, a main character of Kerouac’s 1957 novel “On the Road,” a defining countercultural work of the postwar era.

“These materials reflect and extend the university’s already significant holdings related to Jack Kerouac,” the library’s director, Rosemary Magee, said in a statement. “The letters, photographs, correspondence and manuscript drafts in this collection intimately document Kerouac’s life and provide new insight into his creative genius.”

The newly renovated and expanded library, which was renamed in a Thursday ceremony in honor of Emory alumnus and library benefactor Stuart A. Rose of Dayton, Ohio, also is home to the Jack and Stella Sampas Kerouac Papers, 1940-1994. That collection includes artwork, audiovisual material, clippings, correspondence and writings, financial and legal records, artifacts including the writer's typewriter and more.

What was missing from that cache was extensive writings by the author, included in the newly acquired collection.

“These new materials reveal a youthful Kerouac’s artistic development, and a lifetime of images of him both unguarded and unique,” said Kevin Young, the Emory poet, professor and curator of the Rose Library’s literary collections and of its Raymond Danowski Poetry Library. “They include wonders like drafts of unpublished poems, signed contracts and even his visual artwork.”

Located in the Robert W. Woodruff Library on Emory's main campus, the Rose Library also boasts papers and other materials from literary lights including Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Harper LeeFlannery O'ConnorSalman Rushdie and Alice Walker as well as from major figures from beyond the arts such as golfer Bobby Jones. It also includes archives from the Civil War to the civil rights movement.

The collections are available to anyone with a research interest, through the open-by-appointment-only Reading Room. Reading Room hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays (closed Sundays). The library is at 540 Asbury Circle, Atlanta. marbl.library.emory.edu.

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