The Roland F. Kerner papers are made up of correspondence, documents, printed items, and ephemera pertaining to Kerner's service in the United States Marine Corps and Seabees during World War II. The Correspondence series (256 items), which includes manuscript and typed letters, V-mail, telegrams, and postcards, contains Kerner's incoming and outgoing correspondence with his mother and his fiancée. From November 1942-May 1945, Kerner wrote to his widowed mother about his travels, training schedule, leisure activities, and military duties in the United States and the Pacific Theater. He also commented on her work and encouraged her not to overexert herself. Occasionally, Kerner mentioned developments in the war, such as the D-Day invasions. In a letter of September 7, 1943, he discussed island residents' desire to marry off their daughters to American soldiers, and his letter of April 1, 1945, reports his courtship with and engagement to Louise Stevens. Kerner wrote infrequently after May 1945, when he again went overseas; his later letters concern his travels in the Pacific and, in one case, a conflict with his brother-in-law, Paul Dieter (October 1, 1945).
From May 1945-October 1945, most items are love letters from Louise Stevens to Roland F. Kerner. She wrote about her daily life and social activities in Wheaton, Illinois, and shared her joy after hearing about the end of the war. Her letter of September 29, 1945, is written on illustrated stationery celebrating the Allied victory, and at least two of her letters enclose photographs. Far less frequently, Kerner received letters from his mother and sister, who wrote about housework and family life. Ray [Bilter], another soldier, wrote a letter about his experiences in Germany near the end of the war and shared his negative opinion of Germans after seeing concentration camps (April 29, 1945).
The Documents and Reports series (24 items) is made up of receipts, military records, and other items pertaining to Roland F. Kerner, such as a receipt for work on his car (June 2, 1942), a document about Kerner's approved leave of absence from the navy (May 17, 1945), documents about his eligibility for postwar education benefits (April 23, 1946), and 5 lists of naval personnel. An undated form about Kerner's military service encloses photographs of him in uniform.
The Printed Items series (21 items) mostly contains newspapers and clippings, often about the Pacific Theater of the war. Issues of Yank , the West Chicago Press , and servicemen's informal newsletters are included. Other items are two books with religious devotions and a map of the Pacific Ocean. The Ephemera series (15 items) consists of 4 wage slips, a letter fragment, photographs, 5 photographic postcards of scenes from Melbourne, Australia, and other items.