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Finding Aid for the Ruth Eleanor McKee Papers, 1905-1972
1151  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Items Removed from Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ruth Eleanor McKee Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1905-1972
    Collection number: 1151
    Creator: McKee, Ruth Eleanor, 1903-
    Extent: 11 boxes (5.5 linear ft.) 1 oversize box
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Abstract: Ruth Eleanor McKee (1903- ) spent ten years at the Library of Hawaii publishing poetry in small magazines and published her first novel on the history of Hawaii in 1934. While working as a historian for the War Relocation Authority (WRA) she wrote 3 monographs. In 1951 she began working for the United States Department of State and was appointed United States Consul at Tokyo in 1958. The collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, and research materials related to Ruth E. McKee's work as a novelist, poet, United States Foreign Service officer, and writer for the War Relocation Authority (WRA). McKee's research for the WRA focused on Japanese American evacuation and internment during World War II.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Advance notice required for access.

    Additional Physical Form Available

    A copy of the original version of this online finding aid is available at the UCLA Department of Special Collections for in-house consultation and may be obtained for a fee. Please contact:
    • Public Services Division
    • UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections
    • Room A1713, Charles E. Young Research Library
    • Box 951575
    • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
    • Telephone: 310/825-4988 (10:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., Pacific Time)
    • Email: spec-coll@library.ucla.edu

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Margaret Ringnalda, 1975 and 1984.

    Funding

    This online finding aid has been funded in part by a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ruth Eleanor McKee Papers (Collection 1151). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 2221408 

    Biography

    McKee was born in 1903 and grew up in Ventura County, California; BA, University of California, Southern Branch (later University of California, Los Angeles), 1926; spent ten years at the Library of Hawaii, publishing poetry in small magazines; published first novel on the history of Hawaii, 1934; wrote 5 subsequent novels; moved to Sonoma County, California, 1936; wrote 3 monographs while working as a historian for the War Relocation Authority (WRA); began working for the United States Department of State, 1951; appointed United States Consul at Tokyo, 1958; retired to Cape Cod, 1963.

    Additional Biographical Narrative

    Ruth Eleanor McKee (1903-) was a poet and novelist, a historian for the War Relocation Authority (WRA) and an officer in the U.S. Foreign Service. Her childhood was spent in Ventura County, California. She later wrote that it was this environment of isolation which caused her to begin reading and writing at an early age. Her first writings were journals and poems. At the age of 14 she took her father's car and a revolver and ran away to Los Angeles, seeking local color for a novel. She was found three days later, employed as a cook.
    She received a Bachelor of Arts from the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1926. That same year she had enough money for a one-way ticket to Honolulu, and with Kathryn MacFarlane, also a writer, she began a new life in Hawaii.
    She remained there for ten years, working at the Library of Hawaii. During this time she published poems in the small magazines of the day, such as Voices and Lyric West. Typescripts of her poems are here in the papers, as well as copies of some of the publications. She contributed dozens of book reviews to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, signing herself R.E.M. In 1934 Doubleday in New York and John Lane in London published her first novel, The Lord's Anointed. Still considered one of the best fictions to treat the history of Hawaii, it received good reviews and sold well. She published five more novels.
    In 1927 she had married a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, Darr Alkire. She was divorced the following year and assumed custody of her son Michael. They left Hawaii for California in early 1936 to live in the Redwoods in Sonoma County. There she wrote her last published novels, all of them successful critically and financially. The most successful was Christopher Strange, a novel of California from Gold Rush days through the turn of the century, including the development of Palm Springs.
    She wrote three significant monographs while working as historian for the WRA. These monographs were summaries and analyses after the fact. Research materials for this writing are in part here in the papers. She also began novels about Japanese Americans, but these were not published. They exist here in manuscript, and are perhaps of some value in recreating the lives of those people whom she observed and with whom she had great empathy.
    Michael was killed in a plane crash in 1950. In 1951 she began working for the Department of State, ghostwriting articles, primarily about Germany. In 1958 she was appointed United States Consul at Tokyo, for Tokyo, by President Eisenhower. She hoped to use this experience to further her knowledge about Japan and Japanese Americans. She retired from the Foreign Service in 1963 and moved to a house she had built in West Chatham, Massachussetts, on Cape Cod, where she lived until her death.
    The papers are the gift of her literary executrix, Mrs. Margaret Ringnalda.
    by Dan Luckenbill, May 1975

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, and research materials related to Ruth E. McKee's work as a novelist, poet, United States Foreign Service officer, and writer for the War Relocation Authority (WRA). McKee's research for the WRA focused on Japanese American evacuation and internment during World War II.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Biographical and correspondence (Boxes 1-4).
    2. Journals and diary (Boxes 5-6).
    3. Poetry, prose fiction, non-fiction prose (Box 7).
    4. Published novels (Box 8).
    5. Unpublished novels (Box 9).
    6. Writings for War Relocation Authority (Box 10).
    7. Writings for U.S. Signal Corps, U.S. Dept. of State, and manuscripts by other writers (Box 11).
    8. Certificates and book review clippings (Oversize Box 12).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    McKee, Ruth Eleanor, 1903- .
    United States. War Relocation Authority.
    United States. Army. Signal Corps.
    Authors, American--20th century--Archival resources.
    Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945--Research.

    Items Removed from Collection

    • Copy of Healdsburg Enterprise,
      Date: Wednesday, November 28, 1888.
      Miscellaneous American Newspapers (Collection 1661). Box 7.
    • Galley proofs of Christopher Morley's Mandarin in Manhattan. Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection (Collection 100). Box 136.
    • Copies of Lyric West.
      Date: 1928[?] and 1931-33
      have been removed and added to the Department's holdings.