The Jack Kerouac-John Sampas Collection at UMass Lowell


Access to this collection is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Kerouac Center at UMass Lowell would like to thank Mass Humanities for helping make the collection available to the public through the below searchable documents.

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Searching the Archive

Folder Level Inventory of the Collection

Item Level Inventory Selections

Item Level Inventory of Art Work and Posters

Note: the above inventories are still in progress, although they do offer significant collection views. Questions about the archive? Contact us.

Visiting the Archive

The Kerouac-Sampas collection, located at the Center for Lowell History (CLH), 40 French Street, Lowell, MA, 01852, welcomes scholars and the general public who would like use our holdings for research. It is free and open to the public. Visits are pre-arranged by contacting us, as we cannot accommodate walk-in visitors.

Scope and Content 

Primarily comprised of photostatic copies of letters, papers, notes, ephemera, notebooks, and other genres of works written by or pertaining to Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), the collection was developed by John G. Sampas (1933-2017), Literary Representative for the Sampas family. Under Sampas’s administration, copies of additional Kerouac writings and recordings residing in repositories or held in private hands were acquired, which expanded the collection’s scope from its original basis. There are various digital, taped and recorded works by or about Kerouac, his position as a central figure in the Beat literary movement and an array of related thematic posters and art pieces. 

Years covered: 1922-2009 

Materials contained:

  • Photostatic copies of letters, manuscripts, photographs and published works
  • Kerouac and Sampas family correspondence and artifacts, legal documents, magazines, newspaper articles, book reviews and art 
  • The history of the correspondences, contracts and additional Kerouac estate business

Highlights:

  • Full copy of the On the Road scroll (in scroll form)
  • Copies of most of Kerouac’s extant manuscripts, letters, and notebooks
  • Sampatis G. Sampatacacus’s (Sebastian Sampas) (1922-1941) Military Identification Tag (aka “Dog Tag”)
  • Some original work by Kerouac

Language: Primarily English, some French, and a few other international editions of Kerouac works

Restrictions: Reproduction, copyright, and privacy rights

Provenance

  • Jack Kerouac’s (JK) original papers compiled over the author’s lifetime 
  • Collection source: Kerouac Literary Estate, John Sampas (JS) and John Shen Sampas 
  • JK made some copies while living in Florida
  • Originals and some copies moved to JS’s Mass. home after JK’s death 
  • Most copies made by JS in Mass. prior to sale of the originals to institutions and collectors
  • JK Estate Records accumulated during JS’s administration 
  • As Literary Representative for the Sampas family, JS added relevant documents to the files
  • MCR staff labeled file cabinets then boxes corresponding to said file cabinets for future reference. This filing system was, in part, used by JK.   

Content Listing 

The 102 banker boxes are arranged according to the file cabinets in which JS organized records and artifacts. Some oversized items, such as posters and artwork, are in separate acid-free folders. Some artifacts are currently displayed in a secure location at the Allen House on UMass Lowell’s South Campus and additional items are in secure storage on that campus at O’Leary Library.

The Kerouac Study Room within the Mogan Center, which is open to the public, contains CLH’s extensive collection of biographical archives, oral histories and rare print copies of Kerouac editions.

General descriptions of the collection contents:

  • Photostatic copies of JK’s personal correspondence with and about family and friends such as other literary icons like Allen Ginsberg 
  • Photostatic copies of contracts (literary and television appearances) with JK or his estate 
  • Estate financial accounting information 
  • Including JS’s personal financial records and possible other estate financials 
  • Original and photostatic copies of correspondence between JS and literary agents and scholars  
  • Legal documents related to JK, JK’s estate and other family estates
    • Including photostatic copies of JK and Stella Sampas Kerouac’s (1918-1990) marriage license
  • Blood test results of Jan Kerouac paternity test 
  • Legal documents about the Sampas administration and control over facets of the JK estate  
  • Original and photostatic copies of Sampas family correspondence 
  • Letters from Sebastian Sampas to family 
  • Correspondence from Stella Sampas Kerouac to family and friends 
  • A few three-dimensional objects including, but not limited to:
    • JK’s high school letterman jacket
    • 3 cat carriers
    • One of Sebastian Sampas’s military identification tags
    • A USO Club record he sent to family 
  • Photostatic copies of JK’s notebooks and some JK school essays 
  • Lowell Celebrates Kerouac posters and postcards 
  • Jack Kerouac Park dedication ceremony documents 
  • Stella Sampas Kerouac’s speech
    • Notes from Ben Woitena (1942-), sculptor of the Jack Kerouac Commemorative (1988)
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