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Keyes, Scott



  • Existence: 1910-1992


Scott Keyes was a planner, professor, and poet. He was born in 1910 in Jamestown, New York, the offspring of a sand and gravel merchant and an aspiring playwright. After his parents divorced Keyes moved to Lexington, Kentucky with his mother and sister Leida. After graduating from high school there, he attended the University of Kentucky for two years (1929-1930). Keyes spent a year as a traveling salesman for the Literary Guild, then enrolled at Pennsylvania State University im 1931. While a Penn State student he met his wife-to-be Charlotte Schachtmann (whom he married in 1938). After earning a BA and MA in Economics at Penn State (1932, 1933) Keyes did housing surveys in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County from 1934-1937, then enrolled in the graduate school of the University of Wisconsin where he was awarded a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics in 1950. During his time in Madison Keyes supervised a housing survey for the Madison Housing Authority and became as advocate of increased public housing. After completing his graduate studies Keyes worked for the U.S. Housing Authority in Washington, D.C and Ney York City. He was then a planner for the city of Cincinnati from 1944-1946 after which he returned to Penn State where the taught Economics from 1946-1953. While teaching at Penn State Keyes became an active member of the Progressive Party, attending its founding convention in Philadelphia in1948 and helping organize the party's Pennsylvania branch. In that year he also helped manage the unsuccessful congressional campaign of labor organizer Julia Maietta. During his time in State College Keyes became a Quaker and an active member of the State College Friends Meeting for Worship. During this era of McCarthyism Keyes's activism and pacifism made him a suspect member of Penn State's faculty (the president of the college was Milton Eisenhower, brother of Dwight Eisenhower). At one point he was discharged but then was re-hired following campus protest by students and colleagues. In 1953 Keyes was hired by the government of Puerto Rico to take part in its renowned Operation Bootstrap as a regional planner. He, Charlotte, and their four children spent the next six years in Puerto Rico. While there he and Charlotte helped form a small congregation of Quakers. He also helped organize a group dedicated to preserving Puerto Rican culture. In 1959 he and his family returned to the mainland where Keyes joined the faculty of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. He remained at Illinois for the next seventeen years, retiring as a full professor in 1976. During this period he also served as a planning consultant for the United Nations in Sudan in1964. While living in Champaign Keyes joint the Champaign Urbana Friends Meeting for Worship, serving as its clerk in 1973. He also was active in Democratic politics, the peace movement, and various social movements in central Illinois. After retiring in 1976 Keyes began writing poetry, publishing several chap books of his poems. He also spearheaded a successful effort to save Champaign's historic Burnham-Atheneum building from the wrecker's ball and tried unsuccessfully to organize a low-cost cooperative housing project in north Champaign under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee. Several years after Charlotte died in1980 Keyes began to spend winters in San Antonio with his friend Joan Hicks, a fellow Quaker. During their time in San Antonio both were active members of the San Antonio Friends meeting. Keyes died of cancer in 1992. His son Ralph wrote about him in the introduction to his 1992 book Sons on Fathers and in a 2012 Antioch Review essay titled "My Father's FBI File."

Author: Ralph Keyes
Email from Ralph Keyes February 17, 2015.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Progressive Party Records

Identifier: MsC0160

Correspondence, speeches, reports, business records, articles, campaign materials, fact sheets, form letters, directives, telegrams, pamphlets, press releases, clippings, and other related material concerning the party and the national election of 1948.

Dates: 1940-1969; Majority of material found within 1940-1955