Kellogg, Louise Phelps (1862–1942)

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Kellogg, Louise Phelps (1862–1942)

American historian. Born Eva Louise Phelps Kellogg in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on May 12, 1862; died in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 11, 1942; one of two daughters (her younger sister died in infancy) of Amherst Willoughby Kellogg (an insurance executive) and Mary Isabella (Phelps) Kellogg; attended school in Evanston, Illinois; attended Dearborn Seminary, Chicago; graduated from Milwaukee College, 1882; University of Wisconsin, B.L., 1897; attended the Sorbonne and the London School of History and Economics, 1898–99; University of Wisconsin, Ph.D., 1901; never married; no children.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1862, historian Louise Kellogg, who dropped her given name Eva, grew up there and in Evanston, Illinois. After attending Dearborn Seminary in Chicago and graduating from Milwaukee College (later Milwaukee-Downer), Kellogg taught in private schools for 13 years before entering the University of Wisconsin in 1895, as a junior. Upon receiving her B.L. degree in 1897, she embarked on graduate work in American history. Awarded a travel fellowship from the Woman's Education Association of Boston, she spent a year studying at the Sorbonne and at the London School of History and Economics. She returned to the University of Wisconsin to continue her graduate studies under Frederick Jackson Turner, receiving her Ph.D. in 1901. (Her thesis, The American Colonial Charter, was later awarded the American Historical Association's Justin Winsor Prize.) After receiving her advanced degree, Kellogg was appointed research and editorial assistant to Reuben Gold Thwaites, executive director of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Until his death in 1913, Kellogg assisted Thwaites in editing and publishing some 40 volumes of documents from the Society's collection. She then continued the work they had begun together, editing three volumes on her own: Frontier Advance on the Upper Ohio (1916), Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio (1917), and Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634–1699 (1917). During this time, she also edited a Caxton Club edition of Charlevoix's Journal of a Voyage to North America (two volumes, 1923). Kellogg then began to write her most successful and highly regarded work, The French Régime in Wisconsin and the Northwest, published in 1925. Over the next decade, while contributing numerous articles to scholarly journals, she wrote a companion volume, The British Régime in Wisconsin and the Northwest (1935). As an established authority on the history of the region, Kellogg was also in demand as a lecturer and radio speaker and held memberships in numerous professional organizations and honorary societies. As she gained notoriety, she was awarded a number of honorary degrees and was made a fellow of the British Royal Historical Society. In 1930, she was the first woman to be elected president of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (later the Organization of American Historians), and, in 1935, she received the prestigious Lapham Medal from the Wisconsin Archaeological Society.

During her 40-year tenure at the State Historical Society, Kellogg became an invaluable source of information and encouragement to countless students and scholars. Described by one young associate as "wearing her scholarship easily," she had a constant stream of drop-ins to her first floor office. As she aged and grew quite deaf, she carried with her a large, unwieldy hearing machine which she would nonchalantly place between herself and her visitor so as not to miss a word. A staunch Methodist, until her later years when she became an Episcopalian, she also carried her hearing device to church each Sunday, placing it midway between her seat in the front pew and the pulpit.

Kellogg, who never married, lived with her father until his death in 1923. Age apparently did not dim her mind or her enthusiasm for new adventures. In her 70s, she purchased a car, hired a chauffeur, and embarked with her cousin on a trip to California. At the age of 79, she traveled to historic Vincennes, Indiana, then continued on to Lexington, Kentucky, to attend a meeting of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association. Clara Kellogg died of an embolism in 1942 and was buried in the family plot in Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee. A portrait of the historian, commissioned by her friends, hangs in the editorial offices of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


James, Edward T., ed. Notable American Women, 1607–1950. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

McHenry, Robert. Famous American Women. NY: Dover, 1983.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Kellogg, Louise Phelps (1862–1942)

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