Julie K. Kernan was born in Roanoke Virginia, January 24, 1901. Her brother, Thomas D. Kernan was born on March 18, 1903. Their parents were Edward O. Kernan (1860-1916) and Rosalie Gravely (1869-1908).

Julie Kernan grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. She graduated from St. Patrick's High School, and attended Catholic and George Washington universities. In 1926 she earned a degree in French studies at the University of Grenoble. Her long career in publishing began in the editorial department of the international law division of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, from 1919 to 1929.

From 1931 through 1935, Ms. Kernan was editorial secretary for the French Book Club. She resided in Paris until 1934. In 1935 she returned to the U.S., and took a variety of editorial and managerial positions with publishers in New York. These included Longmans, Green & Company, where she was editor of religious publications (1935-1950); David McKay & Co., where she was manager of the religous book department (1950-1953); and P.J. Kenedy & Sons, as editor (1953-1966).

In 1966 Ms. Kernan retired. Her last residence was in Washington, D.C., where she died on May 24, 1988.

Throughout her life, Ms. Kernan was a prodigious writer and translator. Her published works include:

The Catholic Church in Action, in collaboration with Michael Williams (1934)

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angel of the Schools, by Raissa Maritain, translated by Julie Kernan (1935)

The Life of Jesus, by Francois Mauriac, translated by Julie Kernan (1937)

We Have Been Friends Together, memoirs by Raissa Maritain, translated by Julie Kernan (1942)

Other translations include:

Raissa Maritain's Adventures in Grace (1945) and Notes on the Our Father (1963)

Daniel Rops - Monsieur Vincent (1961)

Jacques Chabanne - Saint Augustine (1962)

Marc Escholier - Port Royal, the Drama of the Jansenists (1968)

Julien Coudy - The Huguenot Wars (1969)

One of Ms. Kernan's most remarkable works is her reminiscence of her long friendship with Jacques and Raissa Maritain in her book, Our Friend Jacques Maritain, published by Doubleday in 1975.

Thomas Kernan was educated at Georgetown University, receiving his B.A. in 1922, and his M.A. in 1923. In 1925, he joined the staff of Conde Nast Publications in New York City. He was general manager of the staff and later circulation manager of Vogue, Vanity Fair, and House and Garden magazines.

In 1937, Kernan became the publisher of the French edition of Vogue in Paris. When Nazi Germany invaded France in June 1940, he remained in the country assisting with the evacuation of French and American friends and the preservation of their property.

Kernan returned to the U.S. in 1941, and resigned from Conde Nast the following year. He became a freelance journalist for some time until August 1942, when he returned to France with the American Red Cross to further assist in the evacuation of American civilians and diplomats.

In November 1942, Kernan was interned with the American diplomatic corps at Lourdes. Early in 1943, he was moved to Baden Baden, Germany, where he would be detained for another thirteen months. Here, he wrote his novel, "Now with the Morning Star," perhaps the first to be written in an internment camp.

After his release, Kernan entered the U.S. Intelligence Service and served in England and Germany with the Office of War Information from 1944 through the end of the war.

In the years after the war, and for the rest of his life, Kernan continued to reside in France. He inaugurated the French edition of House and Garden magazine, composing from its pages several expensive and best-selling books on architecture, interior decoration, and gardening. Kernan officially retired from Conde Nast in 1969. His addresses in Paris were the Place Vendome and the Rude de Marignac, successively. He also bought and renovated a country house on the Rue de la Montaigne, St. Aignan, in Senlis.

Thomas Kernan was author of several books including Across a World in collaboration with John J. Considine (1942); France on Berlin Time (1941) and the forementioned novel, Now with the Morning Star (Scribner's, 1944, 1951 and Bodley Head, 1945). It should be noted that both Thomas and Julie Kernan's books were translated and published variously in French, Spanish and German.

Thomas Kernan died in France on May 9, 1975.

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The Julie and Thomas Kernan papers are organized into 7 categories: correspondence by notable individuals and friends who were frequent correspondents; files on Jacques and Raissa Maritain; correspondence by Julie and Thomas Kernan; subject files which includes correspondence and material about the various organizations and miscellaneous business that the Kernans were involved with; manuscripts and published works by Julie and Thomas Kernan; a large collection of information and correspondence related to the Kernan family genealogy; and finally, photographs of family and friends, as well as newsclippings about Thomas Kernan, World War II and the internment of Americans, and about miscellaneous prominent figures. The Synopsis following this introduction provides a more detailed description of these series.

Of particular interest is the substantive correspondence (some 200 letters) written by Thomas Kernan in France to Julie and his aunts in the U.S., over a fifty-year period from about the mid-1920s through the 1960's and early 1970's. The letters provide a detailed insight into the events surrounding the Nazi invasion of France, its impact on civilian life and business. Thomas Kernan's daily experiences in an internment camp for over 13 months are also described. The correspondence is accompanied by rare printed ephemera, such as programs for plays by the internees, directed by Kernan, and various documents and passports carried by foreign diplomats and the American Red Cross for safe conduct through occupied zones.

The series of files maintained by Julie Kernan about Jacques and Raissa Maritain are valuable for the twenty letters and cards written by Jacques Maritain to both brother and sister. Included is the typed manuscript of Julie Kernan's translation of Raissa Maritain's work, "The Divine Ways - A Little Work of Saint Thomas Aquinas," published by Basilian Press in 1942. In addition, there are numerous articles by different scholars about Jacques Maritain, as well as newsclippings regarding his death.

Other notable correspondents include Cornelia Borgeroff, friend and secretary to the Maritains; Rene de Chambrun; Paul Claudel; Ernest Dimnet; Colonel William J. ("Wild Bill") Donovan; Stanislas Fumet; Henri Gheon; Antoinette Grunelius, friend of the Maritains; Helen Iswolsky; Emmet Lavery; Marie Belloc Lowndes and her daughter Susan Lowndes Marques; Francois Mauriac; Andre Maurois; Conde Nast; John U. Nef, American educator; and Harry Yoxall, British journalist and winesman.

Another noteworthy series consists of the Kernan family genealogical files. These include items belonging to Dr. Edward Dolan Kernan (1808-1874) and to his son Dr. Thomas Dickenson Kernan (1832-1896), great grandfather and grandfather, respectively, of Thomas and Julie Kernan. Material includes medical practice affidavits; property tax and slave purchase receipts; and medical lecture admission tickets. Genealogical research consists of numerous carefully constructed family trees for the immediate family and its branches. Much correspondence between Julie and Thomas Kernan and various historical societies in Old Salem, North Carolina, concerns the restoration and preservation of the ancestral home there, built by Samuel Benjamin Vierling in 1800. Other accompanying material includes printed matter, such as brochures, on the Moravian Church in Old Salem, to which Samuel B. Vierling belonged for some time.

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Processed by Lisette C. Matano, May 13, 1991.

BULK DATES: 1940 - 1975
SPAN DATES: 1765 - 1988

EXTENT: 4.50 lf., 3 boxes


SERIES: 1. Individual Correspondence

SERIES DESCRIPTION: (Box 1, Folders 1 - 30) This series consists of correspondence from notable individuals, as well as from frequent correspondents who were friends and associates of Julie and Thomas Kernan.

SERIES: 2. Maritain Files

SERIES DESCRIPTION: (Box 1, Folders 31-58) This series consists of material pertaining to Raissa and Jacques Maritain. Includes correspondence from Jacques Maritain to JKK, papers by various authors about the Maritains, and newsclippings about Jacques Maritain's death.

SERIES: 3. Kernan Correspondence Series

SERIES DESCRIPTION: (Box 1, Folders 59-75) Contains correspondence generated and received by Julie and Thomas Kernan. Of interest is that of Thomas Kernan to Julie and the Kernan family during the war years in France and his internment for thirteen months at Lourdes and Baden Baden during the Nazi occupation of France from November 1942.

SERIES: 4. Subject Files

SERIES DESCRIPTION: (Box 1, Folders 76-84; Box 2, Folders 1-15) Contains files maintained by Julie and Thomas Kernan pertaining to various associations and publishers. Arrangement is alphabetical by association name, with correspondence preceding other material.

SERIES: 5. Manuscripts

SERIES DESCRIPTION: (Box 2, Folders 16 - 73) This series consists of manuscripts and related material including correspondence, generated by Julie and Thomas Kernan. Printed articles are included here.

SERIES: 6. Kernan Family and Genealogy

SERIES DESCRIPTION: (Box 3, Folders 1 - 29) In two parts, the first contains files on various members of the Kernan family. Part two consists of genealogical data and miscellaneous printed information relating to the Kernan family's ancestry.

SERIES: 7. Photographs and Printed Matter

SERIES DESCRIPTION: (Box 3, Folders 30 - 72) This series contains photographs of individual friends and associates as well as of Thomas Kernan. In addition, printed material collected by both Kernans on various subjects including World War II, are filed in this section.

SERIES: 8. Oversized & Addenda

SERIES DESCRIPTION: Contains oversized and addenda items added to collection May 12, 1993 (cf. finding aid).