Keim, Franklin D., 1886-1957
Franklin D. Keim (1886-1957), professor and chairman of the University of Nebraska Department of Agronomy from 1932-1954, is recognized for his achievements in agronomy on the topics of plant genetics, weed control, native grasses, and pasture utilization.
Franklin David Keim was born in Hardy, Nebraska, on September 10, 1886, to Dennis and Jennie (Cramer) Keim. He received a teacher’s certificate from Peru State Teachers College (1909), Bachelors of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of Nebraska (1914, 1918), and a PhD from Cornell University (1927). He married Alice Mary Voigt on June 12, 1914, and they had two children, Virginia Voigt Honstead and agronomist Wayne Franklin Keim.
Before coming to the University of Nebraska (UN), Keim worked as a principal and superintendent of schools in Chester and Blue Springs, Nebraska (1909-1911). After completing his bachelor’s degree, he joined the UN College of Agriculture as an assistant agronomist (1914-1916), extension agronomist (1917-1918), professor (1918-1929), acting chairman (1930-1932) and chairman (1932-1952) of the Agronomy Department. During his time as chairman, Keim doubled the department’s staff, making it the largest department in the College of Agriculture at that time. He helped pioneer a cooperative program between the UN Department of Agronomy and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that grew agronomy staff, funded several research projects, and served as a model for other land grant institutions. He mentored many agronomists during his time at UN, including Nobel Prize winner and geneticist George Beadle.
In 1945-1946, Keim was called by the U.S. War Department to teach plant genetics and agriculture to American Army personnel at the Biarritz American University in France. This university was created to encourage soldiers to gain college credit and skills while they were waiting to return home after their service in World War II. During his time in Europe, Keim also documented the state of post-war farms and agriculture as he traveled throughout France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Keim was involved in a variety of professional organizations. He served as director of the Union National State Insurance Company, Farmers State Bank of Davey, Nebraska, and Lincoln and Fremont Joint Stock Land Bank. He was inducted into the USDA American Research Science Hall of Fame in 1999, and was a fellow and president of the American Society of Agronomy. He was also involved in Nebraska State Weed Advisory, National Genetics Society of America, FarmHouse Fraternity, National Geographic Society, National Academy of Science, American Association of the Advancement of Science, and numerous other professional organizations.
Keim died March 7, 1956, while attending a secretary meeting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. The University of Nebraska Agronomy building, Keim Hall, was dedicated to him in 1957.
Information for Franklin D. Keim’s biography comes from his resume, biographies, and articles from “Biographies, resume, in memoriam, 1946-1957” (box 1, folder 3), “Articles on F.D. Keim, 1941-2000” (box 1, folder 2), and his publication, My Seven Months in Europe (box 2, folder 3).