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Charles Keil

Charles  Keil

Ethnomusicologist Charles Keil was born August 12, 1939 in Norwalk, CT. He earned his undergraduate degree in American Studies from Yale University in 1961, and went on to the University of Chicago to earn his MA (1964) and Ph.D. (1979), both in Anthropology. His MA thesis, Urban Blues, won the Roy D. Albert Prize, University of Chicago, for best Master's Thesis, 1963-1964.

Keil spent thirty years as an American Studies (AMS) professor at the University at Buffalo before he retired in 2000. Playing an integral role in establishing the Ph.D. program in AMS, he helped to make the department one of the most prestigious in the country. He taught seventeen different classes, many of which were cross-listed in the Anthropology and Music departments. He was director of Graduate Studies (1970-1977), acting chair of the Department of American Studies (1978-1979 and 1992), and he was director of Undergraduate Studies (1986-1989). He also spent summer sessions as a visiting lecturer at Trent University (1982-1983).

Active and outspoken in the University at Buffalo community, Keil was one of the 45 faculty members to be arrested during the 1970 protest against police presence on campus. He and colleague Michael Frisch (aka Vizzy Goth) co-wrote a song, "Hayes Hall Blues," about the incident in order to raise legal defense funds. [45 rpm phonorecord in University Archives collection # 3/5/33, Campus Unrest at the State University of New York at Buffalo Records]


Affiliation(s): American Studies
Record Group(s): 16
Biographical File Contains:
  • Photographs