Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Robert S. Kerr
Oil man Robert S. Kerr September 11, 1896 in what is now Ada, Oklahoma January 1, 1963in Washington, D.C., first held elective office when he became Oklahoma's governor in 1942. During the war years, he presided over a vigorous economic expansion and directed a remarkably efficient state administration. A year after leaving the governor's office, he was successful in his first attempt at the U.S. Senate in 1948. Kerr was reelected to two more terms. After he failed at winning the 1952 Democratic presidential nomination, Kerr thereafter devoted his energies to building his Senate career. Kerr served on several key committees, most notably the Finance and Public Works committees. He also forged alliances to key senators, such as Lyndon B. Johnson, who led the Democrats' Senate forces. A partner in Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Kerr increasingly became known as a key champion of southwestern oil and gas interests. Of course, he did not hesitate to use his influence for Oklahoma's behalf. Millions of dollars were diverted to military and civilian projects in the state. Also, a series of water projects, dams, and an entire navigation system that links the Arkansas River to the oceans of the world are part of Kerr's legacy.
The Kerr Collection mainly consists of materials generated during the Senate years. However, there are several cubic feet of documents that relate to his years as Oklahoma's governor. Because of Kerr's devotion to conservation work, there is a significant amount of documentation on both Oklahoma and non-Oklahoma projects. As with so many of Oklahoma's lawmakers, there is a large amount of material regarding agriculture and Native Americans. Finally one of the most valuable parts of the collection concerns the senator's speeches. Often considered one of the finest orators that Oklahoma ever produced or that the Senate ever heard, Kerr gave the keynote address at the 1944 Democratic National Convention that nearly won him the second slot on Franklin D. Roosevelt's ticket. chairman, Select Committee on National Water Resources (Eighty-sixth Congress ),
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