Frances was made editor of the Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine on September 14th, 1937 – filling a position that had been vacant for two years. With her years of writing experience with Good Housekeeping among many other magazines, as well as her connections in Washington and across the country, she was the perfect choice. A lifelong member of the DAR, six of her ancestors participated in the American Revolution and Frances’s mother Louise had helped start one of the first chapters in Boston in 1890 and later the chapter in Newbury, Vermont. Frances attended her first Continental Congress as a young girl, and was later initiated at the age of 18 into the Newbury chapter.
She had lofty goals for the magazine, hoping to add “romance and glamour” to the publication through new features like fiction articles, book reviews, antique departments, and historical articles by well-known authors. Although fiction had long been a staple in other women’s magazines like Good Housekeeping or Ladies Home Journal, it had been excluded from the pages of the DAR magazine.
Her first publication as editor was titled “European Number,” and featured the President General’s travels abroad as well as articles about military remembrances in Europe, including one by General Pershing on European War Memorials, and accounts from local chapters in Italy and France. It also featured the magazine’s first fiction article “The Part of Prudence,” and a number of new collaborators.
Her next big step was changing the name of the magazine from the Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine to the National Historical Magazine. Another new feature of the magazine was the numbering system, each issue began at 1, rather than picking up where the last issue left off. As the number of featured articles and fiction grew, so did the number of new authors for the magazine. Among these notable contributors to the magazine were General Pershing, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dorothy Canfield, Ricardo J. Alfaro, among many others.
Frances was trying to make the magazine more than just an addendum to the DAR, she wanted it to be an appealing magazine that any average person wanted to read, and it appeared that she was succeeding. She wanted it to be a modern magazine, with fiction in addition to historical articles and current events – rather than just full of information on the DAR. Her work as editor was immediately popular, and she received congratulations and praise from readers, DAR officials, and even from people outside the organization like Frederick Bigelow, her former boss at Good Housekeeping. The outlook for the National Historical Magazine was bright, it would become more than the magazine for the DAR but a historic magazine for the nation that could reach anybody and everybody.
The Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, November, 1937.
“Mrs. Keyes Takes Post on Magazine.” Washington Post, September 15, 1937.
“D.A.R. Introduces Mrs. Keyes, Editor.” New York Times, October 24, 1937.
Linsley, R.. R. B. Linsley to Mrs. Binford, December 10, 1939. Letter. From Tulane Library, The Frances Parkinson Keyes Papers, 1898-1971.
Smith, H.. H. H. Smith to Frances Keyes, January 12, 1938. Letter. From Tulane Library, The Frances Parkinson Keyes Papers, 1898-1971.
“Minutes: National Board of Management.” December, 1938.