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Kathleen A. Kerr Papers, 1935-1990

By Karl McCreary

Collection Overview

Title: Kathleen A. Kerr Papers, 1935-1990

Predominant Dates: 1975-1989

ID: MSS Kerr

Primary Creator: Kerr, Kathleen A.

Extent: 0.6 cubic feet. More info below.

Date Acquired: 00/00/2019

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Kathleen A. Kerr Papers document the instructional career of Oregon State University dance professor Kathleen A. Kerr. This collection is primarily made up of guides to various folk dance styles assembled and written by Kerr for use in her folk dancing classes. These guides include a few generated in the 1930s and 1940s that Kerr collected for reference. Kerr taught dance coursework in the Physical Education Department from 1975 to 1989.

Scope and Content Notes

The Kathleen A. Kerr Papers document the instructional career of Oregon State University dance professor Kathleen A. Kerr. This collection is primarily made up of guides to folk dances assembled and written by Kerr that were featured as a part of her teaching. In addition to descriptions of the basic step pattern and movement for each dance, these guides also contain information on the historical background of the dances and suggested sound recordings to accompany them. The three classes for which these guides were prepared are: International Folk Dance (PEA 147); Beginning Folk Dance (PEA 193); and the Folk Dance Workshop (PE 308). Other guides in this collection that pre-date Kerr document two 1949 American Folk and square dance "clinics," and workshops held on campus that were organized by Kerr's predecessor in folk dance instruction at OSU, Erma Weir. The four earlier guides are non-OSU related publications that feature sheet music for folk dances.  This collection also includes correspondence regarding the All-Oregon Folk Dance concert, an event at OSU organized by Kerr as a fundraiser for The Arc of Benton County and the OSU Summer Folk Dance Workshop.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Born in Chicago in 1947, Kathleen Adele Kerr studied Russian language and literature at Stanford University where she earned an undergraduate degree in 1968. With the original plan to continue graduate studies in Slavic languages, Kerr enrolled in a new dance program at Stanford and proceeded to shift gears academically to pursue and complete a MA in Dance Education there in 1974.

Kerr came to Oregon State University in 1975 to teach in the Department of Physical Education and specialized in the instruction of folk and international dances. Along with teaching, Kerr also directed the OSU Folk Ensemble and arranged choreography for the annual Oregon Dance program and opera workshops featured as part of the Winter Music Festival. To advocate and promote the regional folk dance community, Kerr organized a series of annual concerts to showcase the talents of folk dance groups throughout Oregon. Running from 1985 to 1990, this series was known as the All-Oregon Folk Dance Concert (as well as OSU Spring Folk Dance Concert) and functioned as a fundraiser with part of the proceeds earmarked for supporting the OSU Summer Folk Dance Workshop.

In 1989, Kerr left OSU to teach at the University of Northern Iowa and worked there as a professor in their School of Music until retirement in 2010. She died in 2021.

Author: Karl McCreary

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 1 box

Statement on Access: This collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: These materials were transferred to the Special Collections and Archvies Research Center in 2019 by Dance professor Cathy Dark and the OSU Physical Activity Programs Office.

Related Materials: A photograph of Kerr in a 1981 group shot with other faculty of the School of Health and Physical Education can be found in Oregon Digital here. Dance instruction at Oregon State University is also documented in the papers of longtime professor of modern dance Betty Lynd Thompson (MSS Thompson). Film recordings of Thompson's students engaged in various modern dance techniques have been digitized and are available on this page. The College of Health and Human Performance Records (RG 031) contain folk and square dance guides developed by Physical Education professor Erma Weir reflecting events held on campus from 1951 to 1952. Weir served as OSU's primary folk and square dance instructor from 1945 to 1974.


Kerr, Kathleen A.

People, Places, and Topics

Dance--Study and teaching (Higher)--Oregon-Corvallis.
Oregon State University--Faculty.
Oregon State University--History.
Oregon State University. College of Health and Human Performance
University History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.