Mark Keller (1907-1995)

Mark Keller began his career with the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol as an editorial assistant and would later become its editor as well as that of its successor, the Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Additionally, he published numerous journal articles, books and chapters on a variety of topics related to alcohol and literature documentation.  He was instrumental in developing the library at the Center of Alcohol Studies.  In 1977, he was named editor emeritus of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and professor emeritus of Rutgers University.

Biography

Born in Austria on February 21, Mark Keller came from a humble background. He immigrated with his family to New York in 1913 without a formal education or any university degrees. Despite this setback, Keller began working as an editorial assistant at various New York newspapers in 1924. His talent was soon noticed by Dr. Norman Jolliffe, the head of medical service of the psychiatric division at Bellevue Hospital. Jolliffe hired Keller as an editorial assistant.

In 1939, Keller moved to the New York University’s School of Medicine with Dr. Jolliffe. A grant from the Carnegie Corporation soon added E. M. Jellinek to their group. The goal was to create a review of literature on “the biological effects of alcohol on man.” This marked Keller and Jellinek’s beginning in the field of alcohol studies.

 Both men soon moved to Yale University, in 1941, upon the invitation of Haggard to work on the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol. There, they were able to complete the literature review. Keller quickly moved up the editorial ranks from 1942 to 1959 when he was named editor of the journal. His efforts helped found the first Center of Alcohol Studies. While still at Yale, Keller began compiling the annual Statistics on Consumption of Alcohol and on Alcoholism.

 In 1962, Keller moved to Rutgers University with the Center of Alcohol Studies. As the Center’s Document Division Director, he was responsible for abstracting and indexing world scientific literature on alcohol as well as documentation and publication tasks besides the journal, such as Classified Abstract Archive of Alcohol Literature (CAAAL), the International Bibliography of Studies on Alcohol, and other pamphlets and scholarly manuscripts.

Throughout his career, Keller received numerous awards even following his retirement in 1977 from the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Rutgers University. He continued to teach at numerous universities around the country and served on several government commissions. Keller died in 1995. Following his death, the NIAAA Mark Keller Honorary Lecture Series was established, to honor researchers who make significant contributions to the field each year.

Keller is best remembered for his influence on the field of alcohol studies. He was able to move the field from the post-Temperance period into modernity. He insisted on the inclusion of control groups in alcohol research and was very critical of research done at the time. His strict nature allowed the field to develop. Keller also fostered the growth of the world’s most complete alcohol-related library, as well as the Classified Abstract Archive of the Alcohol Literature.

Highlights

Keller began his career in alcohol research in the 1930s and over his long career was a major contributor to the field.  In particular, Keller was influential in helping to create the Center's library, as well indexing and abstracting alcohol literature.

  • 1907: Born in Austria on February 21st
  • 1913: Immigrates to the New York on June 4th from Hungary
  • 1924: Works as an editorial assistant at various newspapers
  • 1933: Begins work for Dr. Norman Jolliffe as an editorial assistant
  • 1939: Moves to the New York University’s School of Medicine with Dr. Jolliffe; Joins Jellinek to create a review of literature on “the biological effects of alcohol on man” thanks to grant from the Carnegie Corporation
  • 1941: Joins by Howard W. Haggard at the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol at Yale University; Completes literature review
  • 1942: Becomes editorial secretary for Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol
  • 1943: Becomes assistant editor for Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol
  • 1950: Becomes managing editor for Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol
  • 1952: Begins compiling and publishing annual compendium, Statistics on Consumption of Alcohol and on Alcoholism
  • 1959: Becomes editor for Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol
  • 1962: Moves to Rutgers University with Center for Alcohol Studies; Becomes Document Division Director
  • 1967: Receives North American Association of Alcoholism Programs Recognition Award
  • 1974: Serves as visiting scientist for National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Teaches at Columbia University; Serves as consulting editor on the First and editor of the Second Special Report to the U.S. Congress on Alcohol and Health
  • 1976: Receives Hammond Award for Distinguished Medical Journalism from American Medical Writers Association, Metropolitan Chapter
  • 1977: Retires as editor of Journal for Studies on Alcohol and Professor at Rutgers University; Serves as Task Force Member on Presidential Commission on Mental Health, appointed by President Jimmy Carter
  • 1978: Becomes Emeritus Professor at Rutgers University; Mark Keller Award established by Center for Alcohol Studies
  • 1979: Serves on Science Advisory Board, Mary Cullen Research Trust
  • 1980: Becomes Adjunct Professor at Brandeis University
  • 1981: Becomes acting editor for Journal of Studies on Alcohol
  • 1982: Retires from acting editor for Journal of Studies on Alcohol
  • 1983: Becomes Visiting Professor at Rutgers University
  • 1995: Dies on August 12th in Brookline, MA
  • 1996: NIAAA Mark Keller Honorary Lecture series established

Publications

Keller's editorial talents are primarily what he is remembered for. However, it is difficult to forget that he was a frequent author with over 200 publications during his lifetime.

Selected Works

Keller, M. "The definition of alcoholism and the estimation of its prevalence." In D.J. Pittman and C.R. Snyder (eds.), Society, Culture, and Drinking Patterns. New York: Wiley, 1962.

Keller, M.; MacInnes, M. (1968) A dictionary of words about Alcohol. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies. 

Keller, M. On the Loss‐of‐Control Phenomenon in Alcoholism. British Journal of Addiction to Alcohol & Other Drugs, 1972, 67, 3, 153-166.

Keller, M. The Disease Concept of Alcoholism Revisited. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1972, 37, 11, 1694-1717.

Edwards, G.; Gross, M.M.; Keller, M.; Moder, J.; Room, R. (1977) Alcohol-Related Disabilities. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. 

Additional Resources

The Mark Keller Papers at CAS Library

  • over 120 letters and documents, including correspondence or personal papers, from Yandell Henderson, several European scientists, Howard Haggard, Norman Jolliffe, Morris Chafetz (first director of NIAAA), and  many others
  • constitute the finest collection of primary source materials in the entire field
  • rich and irreplaceable scholarly resource