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May Walden papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Walden-M

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, writings, photographs, etc. of May Walden and Katharine Kerr Moore.

Half of the collection consists of correspondence, primarily incoming, the bulk of which is letters to May Walden from her daughter, Katharine Kerr Moore. Moore's letters to her mother give a detailed picture of domestic life during the Great Depression of the thirties. Some of the letters included in Walden's papers are addressed to Charles H. Kerr relating to the publishing house he founded, Charles H. Kerr & Co. The outgoing correspondence is almost entirely letters from May Weldon to Katharine Kerr Moore. The rest of the collection consists of manuscript notes and short pieces, small notebooks and mementos, numerous newspaper clippings, diaries, account books, and photographs. Included are a few miscellaneous items relating to Katharine Kerr Moore.


  • Creation: 1869-1972
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1892-1959



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The May Walden papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The May Walden papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of May Walden

Chicago and Florida Socialist Party activist writer and speaker, author of pamphlets, articles and speeches on women's rights and social causes.

Lilly May Walden grew up in North Carolina and Metamora, Illinois, and by 1891 she was working in Chicago in the U.S. Pension Office. Once settled in Chicago she met and married Charles Hope Kerr, publisher first of Unity, organ of the Western Unitarian conference, and later the monthly New Occasions, the International Socialist Review and many other Socialist and liberal books and pamphlets. The couple divorced in 1904.

As the wife of a Socialist publisher, May Walden developed passionate interests in the causes of the party and together the Kerrs moved in a circle of leftist writers and speakers, which included Clarence Darrow and Eugene Debs. After her divorce Walden continued to write and publish on such topics as women's rights, social injustices and political issues. For a few years she traveled, stumping for the Socialist Party, becoming popular as a speaker among women's groups.

In 1913, May Walden moved with her mother Elizabeth to Avon Park, Florida, where she lived until her death in 1960. She was survived by her only child, Katharine Kerr Moore, with whom she vigorously corresponded for nearly fifty years.


3.3 Linear Feet (8 boxes)


Collection of May Walden, wife of Socialist publisher Charles H. Kerr from 1892 to 1904, consisting of letters, diaries, literary manuscripts, account books, clippings, photographs, memorabilia, as well as publications relating to the Socialist movement. Included in the papers are items relating to May Walden's daughter, Katharine Kerr Moore.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1884-1957
Boxes 1-4
Series 2: Works, 1870-1956, bulk 1891-1956
Boxes 5-6
Series 3: Photographs, approximately 1890-1944
Box 7
Series 4: Miscellaneous
Box 8

Collection Stack Location

1 35 7


Gift of May Walden, ca. 1959; Katharine Kerr Moore, 1974-1975.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1968; Cynthia S. Wall, 1989; Virginia H. Smith, 2001.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the May Walden papers, 1870-1972, bulk 1892-1959
Finding aid prepared by Virginia H. Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States