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The Mark Keller Papers

sketch of Mark KellerIn a back room of the Alcohol Studies Library there were three large file cabinets hosting an assortment of files that were once the property of a true legend in the alcohol studies field, Mark Keller. Keller’s documents represent a great deal of time and subjects. The coverage ranges from academic topics and journal business to more personal, going back to the days before the Center even existed, with the latest items from just months before his death. As such, Keller’s archive covers a large amount of the history of the field all the way through the twentieth century.

An academic hoarder, Keller seems to have saved everything in his folders. Next to the handwritten personal letter, often offering insights into opinions on various theories or conferences, airplane tickets for his extensive travels, all around the United States and to places like China, Japan, Norway, and Israel prove his deep involvement in the field.

Along with the evidence of travel, Keller also kept a large portion of the proceedings of conferences and other seminars and meetings he attended, which gives a sense of the organizations active in the mid-twentieth century in the field of alcohol studies. It would be highly likely to complete a timeline of the main events with the information available in the collection.

The largest item type in the collection is his personal correspondence. These documents are often bundled by the person who is on the other end of the correspondence, by topic, or by the conference they met at for the first time. His correspondence had reached a wide range of professionals in the alcohol studies and treatment field from all corners of the globe, an illustration that they all viewed Keller as an authoritative voice on the subject and greatly valued his input and advice on topics professional, academic, and personal. We are fortunate that these documents were saved; otherwise, we would have lost a great deal of the picture of this man’s personality and life.

Overall, the Keller Archive is a fascinating window into the life and times of someone who was at the forefront of the field for many decades. Having access to his documents offers new insights into the process behind writing and editing scholarly works involving both science and social science, and it gives a look at the history of the Center of Alcohol Studies.

Mark Keller and Marty Mann

Mark Keller and Marty Mann at Mark Keller’s Retirement Dinner in 1977

Highlights of the The Mark Keller Papers at CAS Library

  • over 120 letters and documents, including correspondence or personal papers, from Yandell Henderson, several European scientists, Howard Haggard, Norman Jolliffe, Morris Chafetz (first director of NIAAA), and  many others
  • constitute the finest collection of primary source materials in the entire field
  • rich and irreplaceable scholarly resource

This post is based on an article by Lewis Parson, processing Graduate Assistant, published in the May 2013 issue of the CAS Information Services Newsletter, updated by J. H. Ward, 2/19/2021