Jack Kerouac collection acquired by Emory's Rose Library
By Elaine Justice | Oct. 1, 2015
A rare collection of materials related to Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac has been acquired by Emory University's Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.
Emory announced the acquisition today at a dedication ceremony celebrating the naming of the Rose Library for university alumnus and literary benefactor Stuart Rose of Dayton, Ohio.
The collection, from Kerouac's brother-in-law John Sampas, includes a remarkable set of photographs of the novelist and poet from 1939 to the end of his life in 1969, and a range of correspondence with Neal Cassady, the model for the protagonist of Kerouac's novel "On the Road."
"These materials reflect and extend the university's already significant holdings related to Jack Kerouac," says Rosemary Magee, director of the Rose Library. "The letters, photographs, correspondence and manuscript drafts in this collection intimately document Kerouac's life and provide new insight into his creative genius."
The John Sampas materials on Kerouac complement a wealth of materials on the author already held by the Rose Library, says Kevin Young, award-winning poet, Candler Professor of Creative Writing & English, and curator of the Rose Library's literary collections and of its Raymond Danowski Poetry Library.
“As befits our new name and space, the Rose Library's already strong Kerouac and Beat collections continue to expand," says Young. "These new materials reveal a youthful Kerouac's artistic development, and a lifetime of images of him both unguarded and unique. They include wonders like drafts of unpublished poems, signed contracts, and even his visual artwork.”
The Rose Library also is home to the Jack and Stella Sampas Kerouac Papers, 1940-1994, which include artwork, audiovisual material, clippings, correspondence and writings, financial and legal records, artifacts and more. Among the artifacts are an Army rucksack used by Kerouac, a suitcase, his final typewriter, and Kerouac's paint box with his signature on the side, used for his various artworks.
Audiovisual materials held by the Rose Library in the Stella Kerouac papers include recordings of Kerouac playing the piano and reading his works, recordings of other writers reading their works, commercial jazz recordings, and conversations Kerouac recorded between himself and other writers such as Alan Ginsberg and Gregory Corso.
Also among the Rose Library's current Kerouac holdings are materials ranging from early typescripts dating from 1940 and correspondence going back to high school, which complement the extensive holdings of books and materials related to Beat Generation writers.
"Thanks to the generosity of Stuart Rose, we are thrilled to include these materials among our many noteworthy collections," says Magee. "The Rose Library has been widely recognized for the breadth and depth of its collections chronicling the human condition with internationally distinctive materials across the array of modern literature and Irish poetry, the African-American experience, Southern history and politics, and the archives of Emory University."
From the papers of contemporary authors such as Salman Rushdie and Alice Walker, to major literary figures such as Flannery O'Connor and Seamus Heaney, to archives of the Civil War and the modern civil rights movement, the Rose Library has become "an interdisciplinary crossroads where people from all different backgrounds, lands and languages come to engage in research, teaching and learning," says Magee.
The collections are open to anyone with a research interest and are used daily as a teaching and learning resource by a wide range of Emory faculty and students, including dozens of Emory courses that incorporate use of the materials for undergraduate research and scholarship. The Rose Library is playing a central role in the university's recently adopted Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), titled "The Nature of Evidence," that helps first-year students engage with issues of evidence inside and outside the classroom.