Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

Janice Kee and a Librarian's Travelogue

Posted by Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix
Larry T. Nix has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, March 05, 2012 in Hall of Fame

This entry was also posted on The Library History Buff Blog on March 4, 2012.

kee-72Sarah Janice Kee (1908 -1998) was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2009 primarily because of her work as Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission from 1956 to 1965. During Kee's tenure at the Commission, Wisconsin established the foundation for its current seventeen federated public library systems.  In seeking to find out more about Kee a number of years ago, I was able to obtain a copy of a travelogue written by Kee titled Around the World in 80 Years: A Travelogue Interspersed with Anecdotes (unpublished, 1997). As the title suggests it is a record of Kee's travels around the world during her lifetime, but it also chronicles a remarkable library career. Kee was a native Texan and ended her library career in Texas. In regard to her travels, Kee writes: "It has been my privilege to see much of the world in my life time. My methods of travel have been in a swing seat in a covered wagon, a buggy, surrey, the back seat of a Model T - Ford car, both slow and fast trains, the driver's seat in a Ford, Chevrolet, Frazier and Oldsmobile, both slow and fast airplanes and a Cruiser in the Mediterranean sea."  From her rural Texas roots, Kee embarked on a library career with her first library position in the Library Service of the Air Force during World War II. She did so well that she was eventually promoted to Command Librarian supervising 35 post libraries. She went to work for the Missouri State Library in 1947, and again did so well that she was designated Acting State Librarian when State Librarian Katherine Mier retired in 1948. Unfortunately, it was only "until a man could be found for the job". According to Kee the man they found "knew nothing - I mean nothing about State Library work". Lucky for Wisconsin she left Missouri and came to Wisconsin for her first stint at the Wisconsin Free Library Commission. She entered the national library arena in 1952 as Executive Secretary of the Public Library Division of the American Library Association, a position she held until she assumed leadership of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1956. Kee concluded her library career as Library Program Officer (classified as a GS-14) with the U.S. Department of Education at the regional office in Dallas, Texas. At her interview for the position in Dallas with the Head of the Regional Office, according to Kee "a political appointee - one of those good-ol-boys who was retired from a Superintendent's position", she was told "'Miss Kee, do you realize I have MEN on my staff who are not GS-14s?'" She reminded him that she would be taking a pay cut if she took the job. She got the job anyway. Although Janice Kee wrote her travelogue primarily for her family, I feel fortunate to have shared via the travelogue in her travel and library career experiences. I wish more people could do the same. The original manuscript is located at the School of Library and Information Studies at Texan Woman's University where Kee established the S. Janice Kee Library Scholarship Fund.


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Sunday, September 15, 2019


Popular Tags

10 William J. Wilson COLAND Lutie Stearns Library people Postcards Library Trustees presentations 21 Brown Deer Public Library Anniversaries White House Conference on Library and Information Services hall of Wisconsin Rapids Hartford Public Library campaign Academic Libraries Bernard Schwab Brown Deer Public Library WAAL membership libraries caly film Pinback buttons Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Orrilla Blackshear Hall of Fame 2017 Charles Bunge WLA 125 Events & Meetings Postcards Larry T. Nix Milwaukee Public Library trav Eager Free Public Library 11 Louise S. Robbins Robert Bocher Postcards Hall fo Fame 2012 library exhibit Jerome P. Daniels S. Janice Kee Events & Meetings Woman's Congress American Library Association Hall of Fame 2011 Wisconsin Historical Society Publications 28 Wisconsin Library Bulletin Hall of Fame 2015 Ripon Public Library Library Artifacts Anniversaries Superior Carnegie Libraries library education Ruby Roeder American Library Association Library War Service 22 Richard E. Krug Katharine MacDonald Jones Dianne McAfee Hopkins Digital Collections Campaign archives Wisconsin State Law Library Meter mail slogans Lutie Eugenia Stearns Library e Wisconsin Free Library Commission James Huff Stout WLA 125 Capitol Fire 1904 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Delia Ovitz Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Irene W. Newman Hall of Fame 2018 State Law Library John Miller Chancellor Gilbert H. Doane Library Buidlings UW-Milwaukee Libraries Hall of Fame 2012 background Nolan I. Neds Wisconsin Free Library Commission Hall of Fame 2016 Black River Falls John J. Jax Gerald A. Somers WLA 125 Hall of Fame 2009 Pewaukee Public Library Dorothea M. Krause Centennial Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services campa UW-Madison school of library and information studies Manitowoc Public Library WWI Library War Service caly film Jane K. Billings Campaign campaign Matthew S. Dudgeon Amer bookworm Hall of Fame 2013 James Duane Doty Soughton Public Library Frank Avery Hutchins Bookmobiles buil Hall of Fame 2012 Marketing-Publicity Appleton Public Library Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Suring Area Public Library National Library Week Inform Wisconsin CCBC Gertrude Thurow Historical Register Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library Ice Storm bed and breakfast Zona Gale Council on Library and Network Development Rusk County Community Library DeForest Area Public Library Sarah Janice Kee Beloit Public Library Public library systems Library History Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide state historical society Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Madison Public Library Eratus Swift Wilcox Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Milwaukee Art Museum Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs WLA 125 Portage Public Library Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries cam Middleton Public Library Ruth Ann Montgomery Library people Buttons Helen Adams Events Bob Bochfer Wisconsin Library Association Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Hall of Fame 2014 Clarence Brown Lester Increase A. Lapham People Elroy Public Library Hall of Fame 2012 Black River Falls Public Library library legislation 20 traveling libraries Library People Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends Uncategorized World War I anniversaries Hall Lowell W. Wilson caly film Peter G. Hamon Cam Library Buildings Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Exhibits Academic Librarians Carnegie libraries Hall of Fame 2010 Tower Hill Wisconsin School of Library and Information Studies Parcel post Public libraries Hall of Fame 2008 National Bookmobile Day Postcards Brown County Library Public libraries Beaver Dam Public Library 14 Wayne A. Wiegand Hall of Fame 2018 Carl Spitzweg Hall of Fame 2015 Hall of Fame 2015 I Love Libraries Special libraries 23 Edward Asahel Birge Library celebrations Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends Hall of Fame 2015 Wilbur Lyle Eberhart T. B. Scott Free Public Library Cooperative Children's Book Center ca 27 Oshkosh Public Library Library Systems books-by-mail WHCLIS McMillan Memorial Library Hall of Fame 2015 Sandra Friedman Dolnick Campaign Evansville Wisconsin School libraries library memorabilia UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Milwaukee Public Library Clinton Public Library Klaus Linderfelt campaign J. D. Witter Cornelia Marving Pierce Lucy E. Smith Morris Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians 24

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo