Arthur Keith's Notes

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The mystery of what happened to Arthur Keith's genealogical notes was explained by the following exchange of letters...

On 10 Aug 1945, a "Miss Chase" of the Newberry Library in Chicago wrote to Mabelle Keith, Arthur's widow, on behalf of Joseph C. Wolf, librarian of the Department of Genealogy and Local History. In part, she states:

...since we are having frequent call for material on several lines in KEITH AND ALLIED LINES, it occurs to me that you should be advised as to just how the material has been arranged, and as to what is now available to inquiry.

As you know, the material was in excellent condition, and much of it in form for immediate cataloging. We have already in catalog... ...the munuscripts for families BROYLES, YAGER, WILHOIT, CAWOOD, GLORE...

...Families GARR and KEITH are not yet completed for specific cataloging...

...Our Problem has been to isolate such material as will be of benefit to inquiry without requiring the reader to read through that which is unrelated to his concerns, but I think you will agree we have accomplished much to this end.

The KEITH family source material requires some considerable discrimination in assembling. Dr. Keigh had acquired a considerable accumulation of correspondence, there are voluminous notes; and since much of the correspondence is of personal and family content, additionally to the specific genealogical information contained from which he undoubtedly compiled his completed manuscript, it would seem that we should carefully select that which should be available to general inquiry, and box that which is not, as "supplementary" to KEITH and allied lines.

Then too, there is a considerable amount of material which Dr. Keith, had he been permitted to finish his work, would have filtered into proper place as supplementary to his completed manuscripts, which we cannot do with any assurances that it applies. It willbe practical, perhaps, to box this as "miscellaneous", making it available to inquiry for any personal interest it may contain to one working on these lines, although the material will be in the nature of unrelated notes and record.

...I am sure this will be of interest to you, and I trust it is as Dr. Keith would have designated. I have had much to do with the reassembling and reading of the material, and shall appreciate any suggestions you may have to its greater usefulness.


On 2 Sep 1945, Mabelle Keith wrote Miss Chase:

I received your letter and I want to thank you for all the information. I was told by someone that the material was received in cluttered condition and I guess that is what Mr. Thompson meant when he talked to you. I want you to do anything you feel is best, you know better than I how you can best serve your inquiries.

I refer everyone who writes to me to the Newberry Library.


On 29 Jun 1949, Joseph C. Wolfe wrote to Maybelle Keith stating:

It was our pleasure in 1945 to receive the genealogical material assembled by Dr. Keith, having to do with families Keith, Glore, Wilhite, Caywood, and many others, including Yaeger and many allied families.

For the most part this is assembled, cataloged, and has been in great use by researchers from many states.

The time has come when we can go over the several boxes of correspondence from which he compiled his final manuscripts. In a preliminary examination of this we find, of course, that for the most part, it is in the form of personal letters of questionnaires, and that the contents has been incorporated in the manuscripts for different families.

Since this unrelated material is of no value to the researcher and has served its purpose in De. Keith's great work of compilation, we should like the privilege of discarding it with proper discrimination, unless you should have other suggestion.


On 6 Jul 1949, Maybelle Keith responded:

I think is very kind of you to write me about Arthur's personal correspondence.

I have many requests about his family but know nothing of his various branches, if you cannot use any of it just burn it up.

Thanks for writing.

...and so we now know the unfortunate disposition of Arthur Keith's notes, correspondence, and sources.

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