John Lewis Keel Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
Born in 1908, John Lewis Keel spent his early childhood in Indian Gap, Texas. After graduating as a four-letter man from Goldthwaite High School, Keel continued his education at the University of Texas, majoring in physical education and minoring in history. Keel occupied the summers of his undergraduate years as a counselor at Camp Stewart for Boys.
Upon graduating from the University of Texas in 1930, Keel accepted the position of physical education teacher at Austin High School. During the spring of 1931, Keel started working with the Austin High School track team. In the eighteen years Keel coached the team, the Austin High Maroons won district championship fourteen times and state championship twice. Keel married Helen Darwin Kuhn in May of 1935.
For three years during World War II, Keel's tenure as track coach was interrupted. Keel continued to be involved with athletics, however, as he served as a physical education instructor for the United States Army Air Forces cadets and officers at Corsicana Field, 301st Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment, and at the Officer Training School, Miami Beach, Florida.
In 1948, Keel permanently left his post as track coach and started a second career as Austin Independent School District's coordinator of physical, safety, and outdoor education. The coordinator appointment allowed Keel to promote his view that physical education enables a child to grow socially and emotionally, as well as physically. In 1949, as part of his role as coordinator, Keel initiated, and was subsequently appointed superintendent of the Austin Public Schools camping program. From 1949 to 1956, the camping education program brought sixth-grade boys and girls to Friday Mountain Camp for five-days of nature study, hiking and other activities. Keel authored The Handbook on Camping Education in 1953 as a guide for teachers instructing their sixth grade students at the camp.
Keel's other responsibilities as coordinator of physical, health, safety, and outdoor education included directing Austin schools' civil defense program supervising driving education. During his years as coordinator, Keel periodically attended the University of Texas at Austin as a graduate student in education administration.
Keel served in the coordinator post until his death in July of 1970.
Photographic materials, printed materials, correspondence, legal and financial documents, and creative works created and maintained by John Lewis Keel that documents Keel's personal life and his work promoting physical and outdoor activities as significant components of the educational experience. The collection is arranged in three series: Professional, United States Army Air Forces and Personal.
The Professional series (1931-1974) documents Keel's career with the Austin Independent School District. Included is a significant amount of photographic materials that document the camping education program at Friday Mountain Camp. Along with individual photographs of camp events there is a captioned photo album, Camping Education, Austin Public Schools, Fall 1949, which records the experiences of sixth grade students at Friday Mountain Camp. Individual campers, however, are not identified. Two articles by Keel, published in the Texas Outlook and the Tahper Journal further document the school camp functions. An arrowhead found at Friday Mountain Camp is also included in the series. Keel's involvement with the Austin High Schools track teams is documented through photographs, a captioned photo album and text materials including newspaper clippings, membership lists, reports, regional results and programs. Many of these photographs have captions identifying team members. A small body of materials, including certifications, correspondence, reports and evaluations, cursorily document the extent of Keel's functions as coordinator of physical, health, safety, outdoor and driver education. Keel's thesis, on "Health Instruction Material in High School Subjects" is included.
The United States Army Air Forces series (1942-1947, 1970) documents Keel's tenure as a physical education instructor for cadets and officers at Corsicana Field and Miami Beach Officer Training School during World War II. Certificates and diplomas record Keel's promotions through the military ranks. The photographic material (Memorable Days, Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment, Corsican Field photo album and loose photographs) is mostly of individuals posing in uniform or of enlisted men performing calisthenics, generally are not captioned. Also included are postcards Keel sent to his wife, Helen, while he was stationed at Miami Beach Officer Training School.
The final series, Personal (1925-1973), includes documentation of Keel's college years. Transcripts from the University of Texas at Austin records Keel's performance as an undergraduate and a graduate student. A scrapbook, Camp Stewart for Boys, 1932 and a booklet, Camp Stewart, 1935 document Keel's undergraduate summers working as a camp counselor. Also included is a limited amount of financial documents and the Keel's marriage license.
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Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
John Lewis Keel Papers (AR.W.010). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1986/104, DO/1984/100, DO/1992/040
Donation Date: 2012, 2002, 1999
Originally processed by L. Ann Marchock in 1998. Additional donations integrated and finding aid updated by Molly Hults in 2011 and Rebecca Herscowitz in 2012.
Detailed Description of the Collection