Herbert Kellar Papers, 1887-1955


Herbert Anthony Kellar was director of the McCormick Historical Association from 1915 until he was transferred, as Co-ordinator, with the McCormick Collections to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1951. He held this position until his death on 8 October, 1955. Although Kellar thought of himself as a historian, an archivist, and a librarian, and was very active in the professional organizations in all of these fields; it was his truly impressive capacity for “ideas” that established his reputation. In a festschrift, In Support of Clio: Essays in Memory of Herbert A. Kellar (ed. by William B. Hesseltine and Donald R. McNeil, Madison: 1958), colleagues paid homage to this man, “who,..., did more than any other single historian of his generation to encourage the use of new materials and new techniques, and at the same time to collect, to stimulate interest in new `fields' of study, and to foster organizations devoted to historical study.” [p. VII]

A sketch of Herbert Kellar's life as it appears in the 1956-1957 Who's Who in America follows. Similar sketches can be found in Who's Who in Chicago and Illinois (1948-1952), Who's Who in America (1946-1957), and the Directory of American Scholars (1942; 1951).

KELLAR, Herbert Anthony; historical association executive; born Hooper, Nebraska, February 21, 1887; son George and Mary Elizabeth (Summers) Kellar; University of Chicago, 1909; graduate student Leland Stanford University, 1909-11, University of Wisconsin, 1911-13; LL.D. Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, 1917; married Dorothy Marion Alderton, September 12, 1912; married second, Lucile Edith O'Connor, February 1, 1935; 1 daughter, Alecea Summers. Teacher history and English, Manzanita Hall, Palo Alto, California, 1909-11; assistant in European History, University of Wisconsin, 1911-13; instructor Medieval History, University of Texas, 1913-14; instructor European and American History, University of Minnesota, 1914-15; director McCormick Historical Association, Chicago, 1915-51, coordinator McCormick Collection, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1951-[1955], director experimental division library cooperation, Library of Congress, 1941-42. Walter Lynwood Fleming lecturer on southern history, Louisiana State University, 1939. Made survey of archives, State of Minnesota for American Historical Association, 1914-15; in charge McCormick Centennial celebration, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Washington and Lee University, 1931; director historical restoration work period 1800-31, Walnut Grove Plantation, Rockbridge County, Virginia, 1937-38. Chairman national advisory committee of historical records survey projects, W.P.A., 1940-42. Member committee on microcopying materials for research (copying historical and cultural records in war zone). American Council of Learned Societies, 1940-46 (chairman subcommittee on selection of materials, 1941-46); member Chicago Metropolitan Library Council, 1945-46; member committee consultants in archives and history to Virginia 350th Anniversary Commission, 1954-55; member advisory board Columbia Studies in History of American Agriculture, 1954-55. Member American Historical Association (chairman committee on historical source materials, 1939-46; chairman committee on manuscripts, 1947-48). Mississippi Valley Historical Association (committee on policy, 1944-47; president, 1946-47). Southern Historical Association, Agricultural History Society (vice president 1921-22; president 1922-24; secretary-treasurer 1924-27). Society American Archivists (vice president, 1940-41; member council 1942-45; vice-president, 1948-49); Council Economic History Society, 1941, American Association for State and Local History (member council, 1940-46); American Military Institute, American Documentation Institute, Oregon History Society, National Society Autograph Collectors, Historical Society Western Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana, Peoria (Illinois), Augustana and Rockbridge historical societies, Philosophical Society Texas, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Alpha Pi, Phi Gamma Delta. Clubs: Westerners, Civil War Round Table (Chicago; Milwaukee). Member Board of editors Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 1924-25, Agricultural History, 1929-1955. Compiler and editor: Solon Robinson, Pioneer and Agriculturist, 2 volumes, 1936. Author: “Memoranda on Library Cooperation,” 1941. Contributed to Crusades and Other Historical Essays, 1928; Dictionary of American Biography, 1928-37; also articles, documents, and reviews in history and library periodicals. Historical advisor to moving picture Romance of the Reaper. Home: 973 University Bay Drive, Madison 5. Office: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. Died October 8, 1955; buried Madison.

Chronology: Herbert Anthony Kellar

1887, February 21 Herbert Anthony Kellar born at Hooper, Nebraska, the eldest son of George and Mary Elizabeth (Summers) Kellar, both natives of Peoria, Illinois, teachers and graduates of the Normal School at Normal, Illinois.
ca. 1889 The George Kellar family moved to Fullerton, Nebraska where George Kellar was a high school teacher.
ca. 1890's Family moved to Pueblo, Colorado. George Kellar was Superintendent of Schools in Pueblo.
1891, May 9 (George) Gordon Kellar, Herbert's brother, born at Peoria, Illinois.
ca. 1894 June Kellar, Herbert's sister, born in Colorado. June married Henry Holbrook Grimes on 16 February 1917. They had two sons; James Gordon, born November 1918 (died 24 hours later); and Stephen Henry, born November 17, 1928.
ca. 1898 George Kellar died in Colorado while family was visiting in Peoria, Illinois.
1901-1907 Herbert Kellar, student, Bradley Polytechnic Institute.
1909 Received A.B. degree, University of Chicago.
1909-1911 Graduate student, Leland Stanford University. Teacher, History and English, Manzanita Hall, Palo Alto, California.
1911-1913 Graduate student, University of Wisconsin. Assistant in European History, University of Wisconsin.
1912, September 12 Married, Dorothy Marion Alderton, a graduate of Stanford University, 1924.
1913-1914 Instructor, Medieval History, University of Texas.
1914-1915 Instructor, European History, University of Minnesota. Made survey of archives, State of Minnesota, for American Historical Association.
1915-1931 Curator, McCormick Historical Association.
1918, July 29 (George) Gordon Kellar killed in crash of his training plane at Kelley Field, San Antonio, Texas.
1921-1922 Vice-President, Agricultural History Society.
1922 In a letter to O.C. Stine [17 January 1922] and Stine's reply [19 January 1922] the illness of Kellar's son (?) is mentioned. This is the only indication in Kellar's Papers of a son. This is during the period of Dorothy's illness and the reference may have been to her - a typing error?
1922-1924 President, Agricultural History Society.
ca. 1924 Dorothy Alderton Kellar's illness diagnosed dementia praecox.
1924-1925 Member, Board of Editors, Mississippi Valley Historical Review.
1924-1927 Secretary-Treasurer, Agricultural History Society.
1928 Contributor to Crusades and Other Historical Essays.
1928-1937 Contributed articles to Dictionary of American Biography.
1929 Member of Board of Editors, Agricultural History Society.
1929 Lucile O'Connor came to the McCormick Historical Association to do an index for Cyrus Bentley's volume on the reaper controversy. (Unpublished)
1930 Lucile O'Connor joined the staff of the McCormick Historical Association.
1931-1951 Director, McCormick Historical Association.
1931 In charge of McCormick Centennial Celebration at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Washington and Lee University.
1934, November 8 Divorced Dorothy Alderton Kellar in Reno, Nevada.
1935, February 1 Married Lucile Edith O'Connor at Wheaton (Streater), Illinois.
1936 Compiler and editor, Solon Robinson, Pioneer and Agriculturist, 2 volumes.
1937-1938 Director of historical restoration work (1800-1831) on Walnut Grove Plantation, Rockbridge County, Virginia. Walnut Grove is the Robert McCormick homestead.
1937, October 2 Birth of daughter, Alecea Summers Kellar, at Lynchburg, Virginia. Alecea married David Beckley ca. 1957.
1939 Walter Lynwood Fleming lecturer on Southern History, Louisiana State University.
1939-1946 Chairman, Committee on Historical Source Materials of the American Historical Association.
1940-1942 Chairman, National Advisory Committee of Historical Records Survey Projects, W.P.A.
1940-1941 Vice-President, Society of American Archivists.
1940 President, Industrial History Society.
1940-1946 Member, Council, American Association for State and Local History.
1940-1946 Member, Committee on Microcopying materials for Research (copying historical and cultural resources in the War Zone).
1941 Council, Economic History Society.
1941-1946 Chairman, Sub-Committee on Selection of Materials, American Council of Learned Societies.
1941, April - 1942, April Director, Experimental Division of Library Co-operation, Library of Congress.
1942 Dorothy Alderton Kellar died of cancer.
1942-1945 Member Council, Society of American Archivists.
1944-1946 President, Mississippi Valley Historical Association.
1944-1947 Member, Committee on Policy, Mississippi Valley Historical Association.
1945-1946 Member, Chicago Metropolitan Library Council.
1947 LL.D., Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.
1947-1948 Chairman, Committee of Manuscripts, American Historical Association.
1948-1949 Vice-President, Society of American Archivists.
1951-1955 Co-Ordinator of the McCormick Historical Association Collections (which had been removed to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin with the dissolution of the Association in 1951.)
1954-1955 Member, Committee of Consultants in Archives and History to Virginia's 350th Anniversary Commission.
1954-1955 Member, Advisory Board, Columbia Studies in History of American Agriculture.
1955, October 8 Herbert A. Kellar died of a heart attack in Madison, Wisconsin.