Edited by Robert Henry Newell
The Orpheus C. Kerr Papers highlights the sense of humor that was part of the literature of the Civil War in the United States. The Papers originally appeared as a series of installments to Sunday newspapers. Upon completion of the installments, they were edited and bound with some new, more autobiographical chapters into this work. Today, this work sheds light on the point of view the average American had about the Civil War, and the types of popular troupes, jokes and humor for the period.
Orpheus C. Kerr was the pseudonym used by Robert Henry Newell. He was the literary editor for New York’s Sunday Mercury where his articles first appeared. In addition to The Orpheus C. Kerr Papers, Newell also wrote several other works, including Smoked Glass (1868), The Cloven Foot (1870), There Was Once a Man (1884) as well as books of poetry, such as Versatilities (1871). His sense of humor was greatly appreciated, and newspapers across the United States carried his writings. He was one of the favorite humorists of President Abraham Lincoln, who was noted as saying of The Orpheus C. Kerr Papers, “anyone who has not read them is a heathen.”