Biographical / Historical
Ernest A. Keller (1897 - 1980) intended to become a historian. World War I interrupted his doctoral studies, and financial requirements caused him to sign with the Chicago Evening Post as a reporter in 1919. Journalism, first as a reporter and editor and then on the business side as managing editor, remained his career.
As news editor and later as Sunday managing editor of the Chicago Herald-American Keller wrote a comprehensive series of articles outlining for his readers the causes and ramifications of World War II. His training as a historian helped him place in perspective the complexities of a subject his audience did not entirely, at first, understand. As a result, of his early articles in this series, Keller found himself in some demand as a knowledgeable speaker before various Chicago civic groups throughout the war.
Keller was hired by Walter Howey as managing editor of The American Weekly, the Hearst chain's Sunday supplement, in 1944. He served in this capacity until 1951. His files pertaining to this job chronicle largely his difficulties with a number of "problem" employees, labor negotiations, and various office 'betes noires'. The best-known names occurring in the files are probably those of writer John Erskine, space/sci-fi artist Chesley Bonestell, and wife-of-Hearst Marion Davies.
From 1952 to 1954 Keller was an attache at the American Embassy in Manila, where he served as acting director of the Far East Regional Production Center, a combination job printing and publishing house generating, largely, USIA propaganda for distribution throughout the Far East. His files document the work of the RPC and give eloquent testimony to the manifold problems inherent in running a large quasi-government printing office.
From 1963 until 1967 Keller was employed with the USIA in Washington, where he was in large measure responsible for the production and printing of cartoon books distributed in South and Central America under the auspices of the Alliance for Progress. The rather sparse files from this period pertain to the production and distribution statistics for the program, which was run on a very large scale, as well as examples of cartoon books, a fotonovela, and posters produced by USIA and the Alliance for Progress.