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a copy of a travelogue written by Kee titled Around the World in 80 Years: A Travelogue Interspersed with Anecdotes (unpublished, 1997).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 Wednesday, February 26, 2020


Popular Tags

Events & Meetings membership libraries Historical Register Klaus Linderfelt John Miller Chancellor School of Library and Information Studies Hall of Fame 2010 Parcel post William J. Wilson Pewaukee Public Library J. D. Witter Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Centennial Digital Collections Madison Public Library Hall Frank Avery Hutchins Campaign Jane K. Billings presentations Cam Library Buidlings UW-Milwaukee Libraries Black River Falls Manitowoc Public Library bookworm Ice Storm Hall fo Fame 2012 anniversaries Lucy E. Smith Morris caly film Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians campa Academic Librarians Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Carnegie libraries Library Artifacts World War I Ruth Ann Montgomery state historical society Library Systems Eratus Swift Wilcox Hall of Fame 2015 background Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries WLA 125 23 Anniversaries Wayne A. Wiegand 28 Hall of Fame 2015 campaign McMillan Memorial Library Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Eager Free Public Library Peter G. Hamon Special libraries Campaign National Library Week Soughton Public Library DeForest Area Public Library Woman's Congress traveling libraries Hall of Fame 2015 hall of library memorabilia James Huff Stout Library Buildings Events & Meetings Irene W. Newman caly film School libraries T. B. Scott Free Public Library 21 Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Pinback buttons Clarence Brown Lester James Duane Doty Library e John J. Jax Wisconsin Free Library Commission Edward Asahel Birge WAAL Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Portage Public Library Hall of Fame 2012 Hall of Fame 2019 Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends 14 Louise S. Robbins Library celebrations library education Brown Deer Public Library Hall of Fame 2014 American Library Association Library War Service Lutie Stearns Sarah Janice Kee Hall of Fame 2015 Richard E. Krug 24 10 WHCLIS Lutie Eugenia Stearns Anniversaries Library people Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Inform Wisconsin trav Events COLAND Nolan I. Neds Brown County Library People Library History Public library systems Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries library exhibit books-by-mail Hall of Fame 2016 Publications Gertrude Thurow Helen Adams Cornelia Marving Pierce WLA 125 Hall of Fame 2013 bed and breakfast Library People Black River Falls Public Library Marketing-Publicity Milwaukee Public Library Library people Postcards Ruby Roeder UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Postcards Hall of Fame 2018 Suring Area Public Library WLA 125 archives Hall of Fame 2015 Delia Ovitz campaign Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Beaver Dam Public Library Brown Deer Public Library Hall of Fame 2017 Superior Carnegie Libraries Richard J. Sorensen Charles Bunge Nancy Marshall American Library Association Amer Campaign Lowell W. Wilson 20 Tower Hill Wisconsin Public libraries cam Larry T. Nix Gerald A. Somers Robert Bocher campaign Ripon Public Library Buttons Bernard Schwab Milwaukee Art Museum CCBC Academic Libraries Orrilla Blackshear I Love Libraries Dorothea M. Krause WLA 125 Wisconsin Historical Society Zona Gale Wisconsin Library Bulletin Milwaukee Public Library 27 Uncategorized Bookmobiles Rusk County Community Library Hall of Fame 2009 Middleton Public Library Wisconsin Library Association 11 Sandra Friedman Dolnick Wisconsin State Law Library Hartford Public Library Evansville Wisconsin Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs Public libraries Hall of Fame 2011 22 WWI Library War Service Hall of Fame 2018 Dick Sorensen Capitol Fire 1904 caly film Oshkosh Public Library National Bookmobile Day Matthew S. Dudgeon Hall of Fame 2008 Gilbert H. Doane Elroy Public Library Exhibits Clinton Public Library Bob Bochfer Hall of Fame 2012 Dick Sorensen Wilbur Lyle Eberhart Dianne McAfee Hopkins S. Janice Kee Increase A. Lapham Carl Spitzweg Appleton Public Library Council on Library and Network Development Wisconsin Free Library Commission Jerome P. Daniels State Law Library Beloit Public Library Postcards Hall of Fame 2012 Cooperative Children's Book Center Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Library Trustees Katharine MacDonald Jones Wisconsin Rapids White House Conference on Library and Information Services Meter mail slogans library legislation buil Postcards Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library ca UW-Madison school of library and information studies

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo