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Collection #147

Kermit Burford Kelly Papers

Date:1878 - 1990 (Bulk 1940 - 1980)
Size:2 feet


This collection was donated by Kelly’s friend and heir, George Pfiffner.

Scope and Content

Personal correspondence make up a great deal of this collection, especially with Kelly’s mother, Edith Burford Kelly. Correspondence with other relatives, as well photographs and genealogy charts, add to the available data on Kelly’s family life. Other records such as Kelly’s school report card, his curriculum vita, and financial documents contribute to broader biographical information more than personal details and life stories. Some of Kelly’s own work, including original poetry, plays and short fiction, are collected together in one folder; some are written in English, others French. There is also the transcript of a lecture Kelly delivered at an unknown location on French thought in Western culture. The dozens of letters that he exchanged with his mother reveal interesting tidbits about his day-to-day life, such as what he was reading or recountings of weekend college trips. Materials belonging to his mother, Edith Barton Kelly, include photographs of her stage performances in The Importance of Being Earnest as well as her own creative writing. Several photos belonging to his father, Ralph Kelly, show official images of WWI soldiers (his peers), as well as his personal journal kept during wartime.

History or Bio

Kermit Kelly was a multi-lingual translator, mostly of French, and long-time employee of Malcolm Forbes. Though not greatly reflected by the content of this archive, his close friend George Pfiffner remarks that Kelly was most notable for his sharp critical faculty, including politics, films, and contemporary culture. He had a tremendous gift for language, studying French formally in college, and on his own time several others, including Russian and Egyptian hieroglyphics. He studied anthropology, history, statistics, and information processing in his university educations at Oberlin, Columbia, and The New School. Kelly’s correspondences suggest a close relationship with his mother, Edith. He also traveled extensively in North Africa. Kelly died of tuberculosis in 1991.

Folder List

Box 1

1. Baby’s Record [cards, notes & family miscellany]
2. Baby’s Record [scrapbook] / [Book of Common Prayer]
3. [Correspondence with parents] 1942, 2/14/1943 – 12/29/1943
4. [Correspondence between Kermit Kelly, mother Edith] 10/1/1943 – 12/29/1943
5. [Correspondence between Kermit Kelly mother Edith] 1/1/1944 – 9/6/1944
6. [Correspondence between Kermit Kelly, mother Edith] 9/10/1944 – 11/30/1945
7. [Correspondence between Kermit Kelly, mother, Edith] 12/1945 – 6/1946 [and undated]
8. [Kermit Kelly poetry and writings] 1940 – 1980
9. [Yeoman Oberlin Literary Mag Issues, June ’44-’46]
10. [Local newspaper clippings on Kermit & Edith Kelly c. 1935-65]
11. [Ohio newspaper clippings on Burford Kelly family]
12. [Assorted correspondence / Address book]
13. [Retirement, insurance and medical papers]
14. [School papers]
15. 1154-56 First Ave [co-op papers]
16. [Tax & Financial Documents]
17. [Cultural Events Programs]
18. [Asian screen design] / Forbes Piper Magazine, Spring 1990
19. Happenings in the Life of a Broken Teapot [mockup of book is a collaboration between Kermit Kelly and friend, Jean Nicolesco-Dorobantzou]
20. [Baseball card-sized photos]
21. [Family Photos & Slides]
22. [Edith Burford Kelly photos]
23. [K snapshots, South Bay, Oberlin College?]

Box 2

24. [Kelly family photos 1925 – 1980’s]
25. Treasured Memories [~1935 scrapbook]
26. [Papers belonging to Edith Kelly]
27. [Edith Burton Kelly] [Awards & Diplomas] [Family papers]
28. [Edith Kelly Theatrical Photos & Materials]
29. [Edith Kelly creative writings]
30. [Papers of] Mrs. Edith Kelly
31. The Oratorio of Esther [Civil War Era Sheet Music] 1878 Southern Musical Journal & papers
32. [Father Ralph Kelly WWI papers]
33. [Ralph Kelly WWI journal 9/17 – 6/18]
34. The Absolute Truth [Official US Photos of WWI] & To Homeward Bound Americans [Pamphlet for WWI US Veterans]
35. Ralph A. Kelly American Expeditiary Forces Identity Card / [uniform stripe]
36. [Correspondence re death of Harry Veyon, Kermi Kelly’s uncle] Sept – Dec 1900
37. History of the 42nd: The Rainbow Division 1919 [w/ rainbow patch, memorabilia]
38. Welcome to Delaware, Ohio [brochure]
39. Photographs [Ralph’s WWI photos]
40. [Ralph’s war photos x 4]
41. [Genealogy charts x 3]
42. Being the Story of a Light Field Artillery Battery From Illinois During the World War [I]