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James Hutchison Kerr was in many ways an ordinary man who lived an extraordinary life. He was a prodigy teacher at age fourteen, Yale class of '65, carpetbagger, headmaster, professor, acting college president, geologist, metallurgist, engineer, critical theologian, entrepreneur, businessman, world traveler, social critic, political commentator, and more, defined his life's mission as seeking truth and, as he preached incessantly, serving humanity. He was a product of the nineteenth century, his adult years bracketed by the Civil War and World War I, and he reflected the generations of the time who led the transition to modern America. In Missouri and the trans-Mississippi West, he played a leading role in restoring, building, and innovation within the private and public educational sectors. He also performed a significant education role in the Rocky Mountain region as professor, trainer, and essayist, as well as contributing in the field himself in metallurgy, mining engineering, surveying, and entrepreneurial activities that helped to develop the new state. His role in the pioneer years of a nascent college that would become nationally renowned was significant. Throughout his life he was on the religious frontier of challenging traditional Christian dogma. His roles as local historian, community activist voice, and contributor to local cultural life are worthy of mention. Finally, the lifelong progressive thinker” articulated much of the agenda of the movement during the progressive era. The primary source for this book comes from the largely untapped archive of the James Hutchison Kerr Papers, Ms 0081, Special Collections and Archives, Colorado College Tutt Library, and five volumes deposited at The Starsmore Center for Local History, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.
Joe P. Dunn is the Charles A. Dana Professor and chair of the Department of History and Politics at Converse College. He is the Council on the Advancement and Support of Education/Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 2013 South Carolina Professor of the Year.