Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Mary Paxton Keeley Papers

Dates: 1906-1963, 1966

Reporter, Kansas City Post, 1910 - mid-1910s; YMCA canteen service, France, World War I; Correspondent, Atchison County Mail, Rockport, Mo., mid-1920s; Journalism instructor, Christian (now Columbia) College, Columbia, Mo., 1929 - 1952; Founder, The Microphone (at Christian College), 1929; Editor, Missouri Alumni magazine, 1952 - mid-1950s; Member, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Theta Sigma Phi, and Kappa Tau Alpha; Recipient, Alumni Citation Award, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism

The Papers of Mary Paxton Keeley consist of correspondence, dated between 1906 and 1963; a collection of essays and sonnets by Keeley; clippings and miscellaneous material concerning Charles Ross, Bess Wallace Truman, and Margaret Truman; and biographical information on Keeley. Letters from Bess Wallace Truman, Margaret Truman, Madge Wallace, and Charles G. Ross make up most of the collection. There is one folder of letters written by Keeley to Ross but never mailed. The collection consists of one series, a subject file, arranged alphabetically.

See also Oral History

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one-half of one linear foot (approximately 800 pages)
Access: Open
Copyright: Mary Paxton Keeley donated her copyright interest in writings in this collection to the United States of America. Copyright interest in any other writings in this collection is assumed to remain with the authors of the documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Lori Schwartz as part of the Internship Program at the Truman Library
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and Amy Williams

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1886, June 2 Born, Independence, Mo.
1910

First female graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia, Missouri

1910 - mid-1910s
Reporter, Kansas City Post; first woman news reporter in Kansas City
mid-1910s Student of Journalism with a specialization in home economics, University of Chicago
mid-1917 - mid-1918
Y.M.C.A. Canteen Service, France, during World War I
1919 - 1926 Married Edmund Burke Keeley (1919); son, John Paxton Keeley born (1921); Edmund Keeley died (1926)
early 1920s Home extension agent, Holt County, Mo.
mid-1920s Correspondent, Atchison County Mail, Rockport, Mo.
1928 Master's degree, University of Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia, Missouri
1929 - 1952 Professor of journalism and creative writing, Christian (now Columbia) College, Columbia, Mo.; Founded the school newspaper, The Microphone (1929)
1952 - mid-1950s Editor, Missouri Alumni
1950s - 1980s Took up painting and photography; continued to mentor young women studying journalism; continued to write fiction, free-lance articles, essays, poetry, and plays; authored Mary Gentry and John Gallatin Paxton: A Memoir (1966), and her own memoir, Back in Independence (Community Press, Inc., Chillicothe, Missouri, 1992; Keeley requested that her memoir be published posthumously)
1986, December 6 Died, Columbia, Mo.

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The Papers of Mary Paxton Keeley consist of correspondence, dated between 1906 and 1963; clippings and miscellaneous material concerning Charles Ross, Bess Wallace Truman, and Margaret Truman; a collection of essays and sonnets by Keeley; and a Kansas City Times article (1966) honoring Keeley on her 80th birthday. The collection consists of one series, a subject file, arranged alphabetically.

Keeley grew up in Independence, Missouri, and lived next door to the Wallace family. She was a lifelong friend of Bess Wallace Truman and served as Margaret Truman's godmother. Letters from Margaret Truman, Bess Truman, and Bess' mother, Madge Wallace, are included in the correspondence. The letters span three decades, dated from the 1940s through the early 1960s.

Charles Ross also grew up in Independence and later taught in Columbia, Missouri at the University of Missouri School of Journalism where Keeley was a student. Ross and Keeley became engaged at the end of her first year there but never married. Letters from Ross, written between 1906 and 1950, comprise about half of the collection. Another folder contains letters written by Keeley and meant for Ross but never mailed. Some of these letters are dated in the 1920s while others are not dated.

Two versions of Keeley's sonnet cycle, To a Lost Lover, are included in the collection, along with two essays she authored entitled "Mandate from the Dead" and "The Tiber." The sonnets and essays are not dated. The miscellaneous material and clippings relating to Ross, Bess Truman, and Margaret Truman are dated from the 1940s through the early 1960s. Some of this material is not dated.

Other material at the Truman Library that relates to Mary Paxton Keeley includes an oral history interview conducted with Keeley (Oral History Interview # 25). The Western Historical Manuscript Collection at Columbia, Missouri maintains a much larger collection, the Papers of Mary Paxton Keeley, 1830-1983 (443 folders) that includes correspondence, diaries, manuscripts for articles, fiction, poetry, clippings, tapes, and photographs.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 Subject File, 1906-1963, 1966
Correspondence, 1906 to 1963; a collection of essays and sonnets by Keeley; and clippings and miscellaneous material concerning Charles Ross, Bess Wallace Truman, and Margaret Truman. Letters from Bess Wallace Truman, Margaret Truman, Madge Wallace, and Charles Ross make up the majority of the collection. There is one additional folder of personal letters meant for Ross but never sent. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box 1

  • Clippings and Miscellaneous Material Concerning Charles G. Ross
  • Clippings Concerning Mrs. Harry S. Truman (Bess Wallace) and Margaret
    Truman
  • Letters from Charles G. Ross, 1906 - 1909
  • Letters from Charles G. Ross, 1910
  • Letters from Charles G. Ross, 1911
  • Letters from Charles G. Ross, 1919 - 1950
  • Letters from Madge G. Wallace, December 1944 - September 1951
  • Letters from Margaret Truman, July 1946 - January 1960
  • Letters from Mrs. Harry S. Truman (Bess Wallace), September 1944 -
    February 1963
  • Letters Written to Charles G. Ross But Never Mailed
  • Mary Paxton Keeley: Biographical Information
  • Sonnets and Essays by Mary Paxton Keeley

[ Top | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]