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Entries : Charles H. Kerr & Co.
Charles H. Kerr & Co.

Charles H. Kerr & Co.

Charles H. Kerr & Co., the socialist publishing house, was founded in 1886 by Charles Hope Kerr (1860–1944), son of abolitionist parents. Initially Unitarian oriented, the Kerr Company quickly embraced social reform and in 1899 adopted a Marxist outlook. It remained the largest purveyor of revolutionary socialist literature in the English-speaking world until the late 1920s.

I.W.W. Songs, 1918
Close to the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World, Kerr brought out many Marxist classics, including the first complete English edition of Capital (1906–1909), as well as works by anarchist Peter Kropotkin, feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage, Irish revolutionist James Connolly, animal rights crusader J. Howard Moore, such noted U.S. socialists as Eugene V. Debs, “Mother” Jones, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Gustavus Myers, Carl Sandburg, William D. Haywood, Mary E. Marcy—whose Shop Talks on Economics (1911) sold over two million copies—and, more recently, Staughton Lynd, C. L. R. James, and Carlos Cortez.

Because of its opposition to World War I, Kerr & Co. was denied access to the mail under the Espionage Act, but somehow the firm survived. As a nonprofit cooperative, it has continued to publish classics of the international Left, and new works of critical theory, labor history, and radical humor.

Roediger, David, and Franklin Rosemont. “Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company: A Century on the Left.” Workers' Democracy 21 (Fall 1986).
The Charles H. Kerr Company Archives, 1885–1985: A Century of Socialist and Labor Publishing. 1986. A guide to the Kerr Company Archives. The Newberry Library, Chicago, IL.
Ruff, Allan. “We Called Each Other Comrade”: Charles H. Kerr and Company, Radical Publishers. 1997.