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Kilmer Family Papers

Identifier: GTM-980703

Collection Level scope and contents note

The Kilmer Family papers contain materials from the Kilmer family, a noted family of American writers. The collection includes materials relating to Joyce Kilmer, Aline Kilmer, Kenton Kilmer, Nicholas Kilmer, and other family members. Some letters, manuscripts, poems, photographs, ephemera, and clippings by and about poet-soldier Joyce Kilmer are present. In addition, materials by and concerning poet Aline Kilmer, such as letters, poems, and photographs, are preserved. Moreover, an extensive amount of correspondence of Kenton Kilmer, much dating to his tenure as poetry editor of the "Washington Post" from 1940 to 1947, is retained. Published and unpublished poems collected by Kenton Kilmer will be of interest to scholars. Also, correspondence between Nicholas Kilmer and Guy Davenport is included among these papers.


  • 1861 - 2007
  • Majority of material found within 1918 - 1995

Conditions Governing Access note

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical / Historical

Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918) was a noted American poet and soldier best remembered for his short poem "Trees." Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Kilmer attended Rutgers University and Columbia University. In 1911, he published his first book of poems, "Summer of Love." Kilmer converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1913. In that same year, he first published his poem "Trees" in "Poetry" magazine. During his brief literary career, Kilmer published "Trees and Other Poems" (1914), "The Circus and Other Essays" (1916), "Main Street and Other Poems" (1917), and "Literature in the Making." (1917). Kilmer joined the U.S. Army during World War I and died in action near Seringes, France on July 30, 1918. [Source: "Encyclopedia Britannica" Online].

Aline Murray Kilmer (1888-1941) was a noted poet and the wife of Joyce Kilmer. Aline attended Rutgers Prep and the Vail-Deane School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She married Joyce Kilmer in 1908, and the couple converted to the Catholic faith together in 1913. Aline published several poetry books and two children's books. Her works include "Candles that Burn" (1919), "Vigils"(1921), "Hunting a Hair Shirt" (1923), and "The Poor King's Daughter" (1925). Aline Kilmer died on October 1, 1941 in Stillwater, New Jersey. [Source: "American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present" (Gale Group, 2000).]

Kenton Kilmer (1909-1995), the son of poets Joyce and Aline Kilmer, was an editor and poet in his own right. Born in Morristown, New Jersey, Kenton worked as a legislative reference librarian at the Library of Congress from 1939 to 1967. Further, he was the poetry editor for the "Washington Post" from 1940 to 1947. He also edited a book of poetry about World War II and wrote "Memories of My Father, Joyce Kilmer" (1993). [Source: "New York Times" obituary, 1995 February 18].

Nicholas Kilmer (b. 1941), a writer and artist, is the son of Kenton Kilmer and the grandson of Joyce and Aline Kilmer. Nicholas received a B.A. from Georgetown University in 1962 and an M.A. from Harvard University in 1965. He wrote for the Department of Planning and Evaluation at the Action for Boston Community Development agency from 1966-1967. He worked as a professor at the Swain School of Design from 1970-1982. Then, Nicholas was an affiliate of Art Research of Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1984-1988. In 1988, he founded the Nicholas Kilmer Fine Art organization. [Sources: (1) "The Writers Directory," St. James Press, 2017, online. (2) "Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series," Gale, copyright 2009.]


8.5 Linear Feet (15 boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of Kilmer family.

Kilmer Family Papers
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
2017 November 2
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057