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In the works soon: Processing the Mark Keller Papers

Mark Keller (1907-1995) was the legendary editor of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol (QJSA), renamed Journal of Studies on Alcohol, currently called the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (JSAD), at Yale, relocating to Rutgers in 1962 with the Center of Alcohol Studies (CAS). The mastermind behind the CAS Documentation Division, Keller was a prolific author of texts of various lengths in many genres, from scholarly to popular in an emerging field. Facilitating modern-day alcohol studies with his efforts, he contributed largely to the emerging field by disseminating research, education, treatment, publication, and documentation, as well as creating an inclusive, unified language and controlled vocabulary for the field of addiction studies.sketch

Mark Keller Papers

One of the finest collections of primary source materials in the field, the Mark Keller Papers was originally curated by the Information Services Division of the Center of Alcohol Studies. The collection encompasses more than a thousand manila file folders of his documents, including correspondence, personal documents, drafts of papers and reviews, copies of meeting minutes, and materials related to various professional organizations, conferences, advisory boards, and commissions, nationally and internationally.

This rich and irreplaceable scholarly resource is currently housed in the Rutgers University Libraries Annex (Location code: A79K02-A79K05) and is partially digitized and available in RUcore, the Rutgers University Community Repository, as a result of my previous two research leaves. The list of related names in the collection includes Bill W. (Alcoholics Anonymous), Selden Bacon, E. M. Jellinek, Jolliffe, Marty Mann, etc.

BoxesIn 2017, the Mark Keller Papers were not part of the relocation plans from CAS to RUL. Originally stored in three metal file cabinets in the CAS Library, the documents were eventually moved to the Annex at a later date in temporary bankers’ boxes, along with other archival materials, a total of twelve boxes. During my sabbatical, I discovered this fact, located the boxes, and consolidated them with other items from the CAS Archive. The boxes, 35-40 pounds each, are stuffed to capacity with file folders, making them hard to navigate and heavy to lift. They don’t meet archival standards, which may cause the content to deteriorate even in the climate-controlled environment of the Annex. The file folders in the bankers’ boxes need to be reorganized and rehoused in archival boxes for the collection to provide more structure and convenient access for future research, digitization, and a finding aid.

Significance of the collection

A self-educated editorial assistant, Keller joined the first major project to review the scholarly literature to work with E. M. Jellinek at the inception of alcohol studies soon after the first major grant from the Carnegie Corporation was awarded to document, index, and abstract the scientific literature on the effects of alcohol on the individual in 1939. Working his way up in academia, he continued to contribute to the field until his death with over 300 publications and conference presentations.

Becoming the influential editor of one of the few alcohol journals during this period, Keller had a unique opportunity to review emerging literature, acquire a broad understanding of alcohol studies, and make decisions about publishing alcohol literature. As a bibliographer and documentalist, Keller shaped and defined the language and classification of alcohol literature to date.

An academic hoarder, Keller saved everything, from handwritten personal letters to opinions on various theories or conferences often offering valuable insights, as well as evidence of his extensive travel and a large portion of the proceedings of conferences and other seminars and meetings he attended, proving his deep involvement in the field.

In the works now

The Keller Papers were partly reprocessed at CAS in 2012-2015. The Digital Alcohol Studies Archives benefited tremendously from the material already digitized. New resources from the Keller Papers, unpublished elsewhere, were also unveiled, scanned, processed, and added in 2023-2024.

Starting in July 2024, the Keller Papers will be reviewed, rehoused, and reorganized, with the help of the Special Collections and University Archives of Rutgers University Libraries. Stay tuned for more exciting discoveries.