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Harry Lerner papers

Identifier: umja0159

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of published books, book catalogues, correspondence, newspaper clippings, property documents, photographs, and brochures. The collection also includes four large bound photocopies of a day-to-day ledger-style journal written by Morris Lerner from 1915-1949. Early years describe his life homesteading in South Dakota while later years detail his work running the Morris Island Grocery store.


  • Creation: 1919-2013

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1932 to Russian immigrant parents, Harry Lerner grew up in north Minneapolis. His parents, Lena and Morris, met in North Dakota. Morris had a homestead near Ludlow, South Dakota before moving to Minneapolis to run Morris Island Grocery, located on Nicollet Island. Harry Lerner attended the University of Minnesota before being drafted into the Army his senior year in 1954. He was stationed in Germany in 1955 as part of the Ordinance Procurement Corps as a clerk-typist. During this time he published his very first book, a guide for GIs to buying cars and traveling around Europe, C-Plate Car and Travel Guide.

After being released from the Army in the fall of 1956, Harry Lerner completed his education at the University of Minnesota. Harry started Lerner publishing in 1959 in downtown Minneapolis, focusing on children's books.

In 1961, Harry married Sharon Goldman and they had four children: Adam, Mia, Danny, and Leah. Sharon passed away in 1982 due to cancer. Harry would go on to remarry Sandy (Karon Davis) in 1996.

Lerner Publishing remains a successful publisher of fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults with various imprints and divisions. Harry's son Adam took over the family business in 2007.


0.70 Linear Feet (2 boxes -- 1 Hollinger box, and 1 media-size box)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of papers from Harry Lerner, a Jewish Minnesotan book publisher.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest in 2012, paperwork finalized by UMJA in 2018 and then opened to researchers.

Related Materials

A small collection of Harry Lerner's papers also resides with the American Jewish Historical Society in New York (P-972) related to his work within the Soviet Jewry movement. The finidng aid can be found at:

Harry Lerner papers, 1919-2018
Kate Dietrick
January 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives Collecting Area