Deaths: historian, Latino studies scholar Louise Año Nuevo Kerr

Louise Año Nuevo Kerr

Louise Año Nuevo Kerr, 76, associate professor emeritus of history and former associate vice chancellor of academic affairs, died Aug. 31.

Louise Año Nuevo Kerr, 76, associate professor emeritus of history and former associate vice chancellor of academic affairs, died Aug. 31 in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Kerr, known for her research on Mexicans and Mexican American immigration to Chicago, received her Ph.D. in history from UIC in 1976.

Her dissertation, “The Chicano Experience in Chicago: 1920 – 1970,” is considered groundbreaking work in Latino studies and Mexican American history. The study analyzes the urbanization of Chicago and explores the origins and growth of the city’s Mexican population, much of which involved job opportunities in the railroad, packing and steel industries.

“It continues to remain an influential work of scholarship and is widely cited by experts in the field,” said Christopher Boyer, professor and chair of history.

After teaching and administrative posts at Loyola University Chicago, Kerr returned to UIC, where she held faculty and administrative appointments from 1988 until her retirement in December 1999.

Mary Kay Vaughan, former UIC professor of history and Latin American and Latino studies, called Kerr a “real heroine for us.”

“She was strongly, indispensably supportive of our interdisciplinary effort to create transnational studies,” said Vaughan, one of the first UIC professors in Latino American studies and past director of the program.

She noted examples of Kerr’s efforts on behalf of a transnational seminar in Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico with UIC students and Chicago schoolteachers, a conference on Chicana/Mexicana women’s history, and the Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services (LARES) program at UIC.

“She not only kept us going,” Vaughan added.” She helped us to thrive in very creative ways that have proven most fruitful.”

In 1996, Kerr assigned students to interview family members about their migration from Mexico to Chicago. These interviews are archived in the special collections department of the UIC Library.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Howard Kerr, professor emeritus of English who helped to establish the Honors College and served as its second dean.

Kerr received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California-Los Angeles and a master’s degree in history from UCLA.