John Brownson Ker papers, 1779-1988.

Creator: Ker, John Brownson, 1860-1916.
Collection number: 3901
View finding aid.

Abstract: John Brownson Ker (1860-1916) was an attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y. He and his wife, Ellen Burke Ker, were both from Louisiana planter families. They were married in 1892. Their son David (1893-1918) served overseas in World War I. Their daughter Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn (d. 1960) was a volunteer leader in social welfare and mental health projects in the New York City area; organizer of a community development and aid to children project in Jacmel, Haiti, 1956-1959; and a press correspondent in Haiti. Correspondence and other papers of the family of John Brownson Ker and his wife Ellen Burke Ker. Early letters, 1779-1882, are of John Brownson Ker’s parents and other Ker and Brownson relatives, most of whom were planters in Louisiana. Most of the earliest letters concern the lower Mississippi River area while it was under Spanish and British control. Papers, 1834-1882, are mainly correspondence of John Brownson’s Ker’s father, David Ker (1825-1884). Among the papers of the 1850s are bills of sale for slaves, bills for dry-goods, and bills for physician’s fees. Correspondence, 1911-1959, includes a items relating to John Brownson Ker and Ellen Burke Ker and their son David Ker and daughter Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn. Many of these letters document David Ker’s life, military service in France, and death in World War I. Much of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn’s correspondence concerns her views, 1957-1959, on politics and social conditions in Haiti, and her interest in psychoanalysis. Included are more than 30 items of Carl Alfred Meier, with whom she underwent analysis in Switzerland in the 1930s. There are also psychological and sociological writings of Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn, including reports on the situation in Haiti, 1957-1959; a few financial papers; six notebooks, 1901-1954, containing poems and thoughts of Ellen Burke Ker; clippings; and family photographs.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Materials from the 1850s include slave bills of sale (See Folders 3 & 4). Folder 22 also contains reports on Haiti from the late 1950s gathered by Elizabeth Ker Schermerhorn.