Kerr, George McGlashan and Isabel
Name of creator(s): Kerr, George McGlashan (1874-1950) and Kerr, Isabel (1875-1932)
Administrative/Biographical history: George McGlashan Kerr, Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society missionary in Hyderabad, India, was born in 1874 in Aberdeen. He took arts, divinity and medical courses at Aberdeen but did not graduate. He had joined the Methodist society and, after meeting Robert Laws, he volunteered for missionary work in Africa. He trained for the ministry in Manchester and was appointed to Southern Rhodesia in 1900 but his work was among Europeans and he soon returned home, hoping to secure a post in the 'regions beyond'. In 1903 he married Isabel Gunn (1875-1932) who had just qualified in medicine at Aberdeen. After a period of ministry in England the Kerrs went to Hyderabad in 1907. Kerr worked as superintendent in the industrial school and his wife did medical work in hospitals. They became concerned about the welfare of lepers in the area and began trying to provide measures of relief. A home for lepers was set up at Dichpali (the Victoria Leprosy Hospital) where Isabel Kerr introduced pioneering treatments and George Kerr provided highly effective rehabilitation services. This combination and the good management of the hospital made it one of the world's leading centres in the fight against leprosy. The Kerrs also continued with their pastoral work which was increased by a local revival in the church and Isabel continued to work in local hospitals. In 1923 they were awarded the Kaiser-I-Hind medal. Isabel Kerr died in 1932 and her husband continued to superintend Dichpali until his retirement, in 1938, to Cove in Scotland where he assisted in the local church. He died in 1950.
Custodial history: The papers and letters were collected by Joseph Ross, a Sunday School teacher in Aberdeen. Some were sent by the Kerrs and others by the leprosy hospital in Dichpali. The letters were written to Ross as a friend, but he also used them as a basis for Sunday school classes and to raise the profile of, and funds for, missionary work.
Immediate source of acquisition: The papers were presented to the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western world by Joseph Ross while the Centre was in Aberdeen. He presented other missionary papers at the same time but the Kerr collection is more substantial than the others and has been kept as a separate collection.
CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and content/abstract: The collection consists of: correspondence, mainly letters from Kerr and others at the leprosy hospital to Joseph Ross and his wife giving information about their work in India (c 1927-1944); autobiographical notes on Kerr's childhood, decision to become a missionary and early years in India; pamphlets and printed items, referring to the hospital and medical work and with obituaries of Isabel Kerr (1911-1956); and photographs of the Kerr family and Dichpali (3 items, c 1920s).
System of arrangement: The material is in one file.
ACCESS AND USE
Conditions governing access: Contact the repository for details.
Conditions governing reproduction: Contact the repository for details.
Finding aids: A handlist is available.
Related material: Joseph Ross also presented other missionary papers and several pamphlets to the Centre library. The Methodist Missionary Society archives are held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
Archivist's note: Compiled by Caroline Brown, Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, Edinburgh University.
Note: The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) the collection itself, (2) Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, edited by G. H. Anderson (New York: Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 1998).
Date(s) of descriptions: 31 May, 2001