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The University of Iowa Libraries

Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Harold McKeen Papers
MsC 150.20
Collection Dates:
.25 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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Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Acquisition and Processing Information: This scrapbook was donated by John McKeen McKinley in 2010.

Photographs: Throughout

Harold L. McKeen


Scope and Contents

This photograph album was assembled by Harold Lyster McKeen (1900 - 1993). It consists of 24 sheets of black paper, 7 inches by 11 inches, between hinged cardboard covers. Most of the photos in the album were taken by or for him, during a Chautauqua circuit in 1920, through the northwestern United States and western Canada.

The following is a brief inventory of the album, as it existed when donated to the Library of the University of Iowa in October 2010. Page numbers have been assigned but not written on the pages, in the usual manner: odd numbers for recto and even numbers for verso. Unfortunately, very few of the photographs were identified by McKeen.


Biographical Note

Harold McKeen was the properties manager (for the Dominion  Chautauqua?), who accompanied the tents and other properties on the railroad, from one site to the next. He was responsible for supervising local workers and transportation at each site, as they erected the tents at the proper location in preparation for the show. After the show closed, that crew took down the tents and reloaded them into the railroad car, under his supervision. He probably didn't need this skill on this job, but he was interested in amateur boxing throughout his life. He was still working out with a speed punching bag when over 80. He was married twice, but he outlived both wives, and had no children to inherit his personal possessions. This album came to his sister's son, who donated it to the University.

He had probably obtained this job because his father, Harry Ross McKeen (1875 - 1954), was one of the featured speakers on that circuit. It was a family tradition that Harold McKeen had held that same job for two successive summers. There is evidence in this album to substantiate that tradition, in the form of several photographs labeled 1919. The tradition also asserted that Harry McKeen had "traveled Chautauqua" for more than two seasons, but there is no clear evidence here for that assertion. 


Related Materials

Records of the Redpath Lyceum Bureau, MsC 150  Please note the list of additional mini-collections of Chautauqua material at the end of the Redpath finding aid.



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