Scope and Content

Reminiscences of Spurgeon M. Keeny on relief work in Russia after World War Iand in Italy after World War II for UNRRA. Also his time as Asian regionaldirector of UNICEF. The reminiscences were gathered in a project by the OralHistory Research Office, Columbia University.

Administrative / Biographical History

Spurgeon M. Keeny Senior 1893 - c 1982

Spurgeon Keeny was born in Southern Pennsylvania in the United States andeducated at Gettysbury College. He obtained a Rhodes scholarship to Oxfordbut in 1918 went to Siberia with the YMCA to work with troops in Russia.Whilst there he set up butchers and bakers businesses and oversaw the welfareof troops. In 1919 he went to Oxford but in 1920 he returned to the Russianborder to oversee the transfer of prisoners. He returned to Oxford butfinally gave up the rest of his Rhodes scholarship and returned to Russia in1921 with the YMCA to take part in an anti typhus campaign. In 1927 hereturned to the United States and became a member of the national staff ofthe YMCA taking over the running of the publishing side.

In 1943 he began working for the United States government on plans for thecare of civilians captured in continental Europe. He moved to Italy as partof UNRRA and put into practice his plans for relieving poverty and dealingwith displaced persons.

In 1963 he was asked to become the regional director for Asia of UNICEF,retiring in 1976.His publications include:

  • Half the World's Children: the Diary of UNICEF at Work in Asia (1957)
  • Nuclear Power Issues and Choices: Report of the Nuclear Energy Policy StudyGroup (1977)


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