The Kern Foundation

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Herbert A. Kern, Sr.

The Kern Foundation was established in 1959 by Herbert A. Kern, Sr., a major contributor to the Theosophical Society in America and other Theosophical organizations. He created this independent foundation, managed by a bank trustee, with his two sons, John C. and Herbert A., Jr., as individual trustees. The basic objective of The Kern Foundation is "to aid the spiritual enlightenment of as many people as practical by exposing them to the theosophical philosophy."

At the time of creating The Kern Foundation, Mr. Kern felt that one of the ways his aims could best be accomplished was by assisting Theosophical organizations with special emphasis on dissemination of Theosophical ideas through the written word and educational endeavors. Herbert Kern’s older son John was named as advisor to the Corporate Trustee for developing granting programs. From the inception of The Kern Foundation until he passed away on January 20, 2019 at the age of 93, John Kern advised and encouraged Theosophical organizations in their work. His presence was invaluable in challenging grant recipients to strive for excellence in all programs.

The Kern Foundation never dictates the policies of recipient organizations. John always acted as a supportive partner, encouraging new approaches to sharing theosophy, the foundation then providing financial assistance for selected Theosophical activities. In his later years John was especially focused on use of the Internet and initiatives like this wiki.

Kern Hall at Golden Link College

Here are just a few examples of programs funded by The Kern Foundation, showing the breadth of its influence:

  • In 1967, a writer's fellowship to Howard Murphet for his popular biographies of H. P. Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott.
  • In 1967, a new printing press was purchased from Germany and new binding equipment from Switzerland for Vasanta Press.[1]
  • In 1968, support for the work of Seetha Neelakantan to expand the Eastern collection in the Henry S. Olcott Memorial Library.
  • Support for the printing of Isis Unveiled and other works edited by Boris de Zirkoff.
  • The establishment of this wiki with a new server.
  • A full scholarship to the Happy Valley School.[2]
  • Kern Lectures and Seminars in the Chicago area, featuring prominent speakers such as Rupert Sheldrake, Ian Stevenson, and Eben Alexander.
  • Olcott Experience weekends and other leadership workshops.[3]
  • A special weekend event for Young Theosophists in May, 2000.[4]
  • Kern Hall was built at Golden Link College in The Philippines by means of donations through the Theosophical Order of Service matched by funds from The Kern Foundation over a period of several years beginning in 2007.
John Kern
John C. Kern passed away on January 20, 2019 at the age of 93. The Wiki editors have always been grateful for John's unswerving support of this project. He embraced the vision of a Theosophical encyclopedia when it was first proposed, and provided content for several articles. A grant from The Kern Foundation purchased the server that served as the initial platform for the software. John was a mentor and friend who will be missed.

Other resources


  1. "Adyar's New Printing Press," The American Theosophist 55.6 (June, 1967), 137.
  2. "Kern Scholarship to the Happy Valley School," The American Theosophist 74.7 (July 1986), 254.
  3. Joan McDougall letter to heads of local groups, February 2000. Young Theosophists. Records Series 50.02. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
  4. Joan McDougall letter.