Herbert Kellar Papers, 1887-1955


The Herbert Kellar Papers are the lifetime collection of a Lyman Draper style historian. They consist not only of his personal correspondence and records; but of his correspondence with historians and agriculturists in their professional capacity; Kellar's copies of the McCormick Historical Association correspondence, reports, records, and manuscript materials; correspondence and semi-official records Kellar accumulated in his capacity as an officer or committee member of the many national and regional associations of historians and librarians to which he belonged; and materials collected and preserved by Kellar for their personal or historical interest. Much of these collected material has been separated from the Papers and sent to either the library or the museum of the State Historical Society.

Kellar's professional interests were nearly equally divided between first, his activities connected with Cyrus Hall McCormick, including the collateral topics of agricultural history, the reaper and various claims to its invention, restoration of Walnut Grove Plantation (the Robert McCormick homestead in Rockbridge County, Virginia), and his manuscript and Virginiana collecting activities; and second, his intense involvement in the many professional and historical associations with which he was connected. In all of these categories, Kellar was clearly intent on making himself expert, and impelled himself to a position of authority.

Following Herbert Kellar's death, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin purchased the Papers from his widow, Lucile O'Connor Kellar. Those papers not already in the Archives/Manuscripts Division of the Society were transferred from the Kellar residence at 973 University Bay Drive, Madison, Wisconsin on April 25, 1957. The Kellar papers have been re-ordered into a single filing system according to subject, and chronologically thereunder within given categories. Processing of the collection was begun in September 1969 and completed in June 1972.