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Papers of Sir John Graham Kerr

Collection Summary

Reference Code

GB 0248 DC 006



Extent and medium of the unit of description

3 metres

(15 boxes and 3 volumes)

Existence and Location of Originals

This material is original.

Name of creator

Kerr | Sir | John Graham | 1869-1957 | professor of zoology, University of Glasgow

Biographical History

Biographical History

Sir John Graham Kerr (1869-1957) greatly advanced knowledge of the evolution of vertebrates through his research on embryology. He is also credited with the invention of "dazzle" painting of warships in 1914, although the papers reflect a dispute over this.

Kerr initially studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh but later took the natural sciences tripos at Christ's College Cambridge, where he remained as demonstrator in animal morphology until 1902. Thereafter he was appointed Professor of Zoology at the University of Glasgow, leaving during the academic year 1935-1936 to become the Independent Member of Parliament for the Scottish Universities. Kerr undertook 2 zoological expeditions to the Pilcomayo River in South America early in his career. He based much of his subsequent research on samples collected during these expeditions. His scientific approach was morphological and phylogenetic with an emphasis on embryology. He wrote extensively on the South American Lungfish (Lepidosiren) and Pearly Nautilus (Nautilus). He also published a number of textbooks, amongst which are: Text-book of Embryology, (1919) , Zoology for Medical Students, (1921) , Evolution, (1926), Introduction to Zoology, (1929) .

Kerr was a member of a large number of organisations and served as president of several during his lifetime. Amongst these were the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow and the Scottish Marine Biological Association (1942-1949). He was elected fellow of the Royal Society, London, in 1909, knighted in 1939 and awarded the Linnean Gold Medal in 1955.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

The papers of Sir John Graham Kerr consist of:

  • correspondence on his major interests - zoology, education, war camouflage and the Mid Scotland Ship Canal scheme
  • personal correspondence concerning his career matters and the South American tour (1896-1901)
  • pamphlets, lectures and reprints
  • notes and manuscripts of published works
  • items concerning his political career
  • a list of his publications




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Components of this collection