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Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Charles Reuben Keyes Papers
Collection Dates: 1871-1951
0.5 linear ft.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

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Acquisition and Processing Information: These materials were donated to the University Archives by Margaret Keyes in August 1994.  Finding aid created by Denise Anderson, October 2007.

Photographs: None

Charles Reuben Keyes, 1942.  Photo by John W. Barry, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Charles Reuben Keyes, 1942

Photo by John W. Barry, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Frederick W. Kent Collection

Scope and Contents

The Charles Reuben Keyes papers include correspondence, as well as five disc recordings of the Charles Reuben Keyes address at the dedication exercises held at the prehistoric mounds in Weed Park, Muscatine, Iowa, on May 29, 1946.

Biographical Note

Charles Reuben Keyes was born May 5, 1871, in Mount Vernon, Iowa.  In 1889 he attended Cornell Academy, followed by Cornell College in Mount Vernon, earning a B.Ph. degree in 1894.


After graduating from Cornell, Mr. Keyes served as school principal in Blairstown, Iowa, for three years.  He took his M.A. from Harvard University in 1898 and Ph.D. in 1923.  During the summer of 1900 Keyes studied in Germany.  He returned to the United States to teach the German language for three years at the University of California, Berkeley.  He again studied in Germany from 1912 to 1913.  Keyes left Berkeley for Cornell College in 1903 where he taught German language and German literature until 1941.  At Cornell, he helped establish the Cornell College Athletic Committee and the Midwest Athletic Conference.

According to William Green in “Charles Reuben Keyes and the History of Iowa Archaeology,” in The Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science : JIAS, Dr. Keyes was a well-known Iowa archaeologist who helped to develop archaeology into a professional discipline.  While serving as director of the Iowa Archaeological Survey and as research associate of the State Historical Society of Iowa, 1921-1950, he established the first Plains Conference for Archaeology in 1931.

Dr. Keyes worked to create a delegation to have Effigy Mounds in northeast Iowa designated as a national monument managed by the National Park Service, thus protecting the American Indian burial grounds.  With state support, this monument was established on October 25, 1949, by proclamation of President Harry S. Truman.

In August 1944 Dr. Keyes was appointed visiting research professor of archaeology at the State University of Iowa with no teaching responsibilities.  He did, however, lecture to University of Iowa students during a summer session in 1945, sponsored by the State Historical Society of Iowa.  Other lectures included one sponsored by the Baconian Club student organization, presented at Cornell College in December 1932.  Keyes also delivered a series of Graduate College lectures in Old Capitol on the subject of early Native American cultures in February and March 1944.


Keyes married Sarah Nauman, alumna of Cornell College, on August 5, 1902, and they had two daughters, Catherine and Margaret.  Charles Reuben Keyes died July 23, 1951.

[D. Anderson; 10/2007]


Related Materials

Folder, “Keyes, Charles Reuben,” in Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Papers of Marshall B. McKusick (RG99.0028)

Papers of Margaret Keyes, Iowa Women's Archives

Papers of Keyes Family, Iowa Women's Archives

Green, William. "Charles Reuben Keyes and the History of Iowa Archaeology." The Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science : JIAS 99 (1992): 80-85.


Box Contents List

Box 1




Effigy Mounds National Monument



Iowa Conservation Association


Letters after Dr. Keyes' death





Senior chapel

Society for American Archaeology

Shambaugh, Mr. or Mrs. Benjamin F.


Third Plains Conference

University of Iowa, Dr. Keyes at

Wedel, Mildred Mott; Waldo R.

Weed Park, dedication of mound builders

Wildlife School, McGregor, Iowa