Journalism in Action: Beverly Deepe Keever and Her Career

Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Youth

Beverly Deepe Keever began her path toward a career in journalism early in her life. Even as a student in a small Nebraska town, she threw herself into learning about the wider world and entered essay contests to hone her writing skills. In 1957, Keever graduated from the University of Nebraska and left her home state for Columbia Journalism School in New York City. This was just the begining of her professional journey that would take her across Asia and into the heart of the Vietnam War.

Childhood in Nebraska

Beverly Keever (nee Deepe) was born on June 1st, 1935, to farmers Doris and Martin Deepe in Hebron, Nebraska, 65 miles southwest of Lincoln. She grew up on a farm struggling to survive through the Great Depression, but her parents worked hard to give her and her sister Joan a happy childhood. She attended Belvidere High School, where she would participate in a county-wide essay contest, which she won with a report on soil conservation. This would spark her interest in journalism as a career.

Nebraska Childhood

Keever’s childhood was filled with helping her parents on the farm and going to school. She especially enjoyed reading and writing, and she had an early interest in Asia after she read Pearl Buck’s Good Earth in school.

High School

Keever graduated from High School in 1953. She planned to leave Belvidere to go to University of Nebraska Lincoln after the summer.

Read Keever’s essay about her childhood, “The Making of a Lipsticked Correspondent,” at this link.

Time at University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Beverly attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1953 to 1957. During this time, she was an avid participant in student affairs. In addition to her double major in journalism and political science, she was a key member of student government who helped found the Student Tribunal, the forbearer to the current Student Court of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska (ASUN). She was also a member of the Black Masque, the Nebraska chapter of the Motor Board, the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, and the Kappa Tau Alpha honor society for journalism.

School of Journalism

Keever took courses from many departments at the University including in Religion and English, but eventually settled in the School of Journalism. While she took courses at the school, she also threw herself into the student publications and clubs that were available through the school. This photo was taken for the School’s promotional material, and Keever sits third from the left.

Courses in Journalism

Keever’s courses in Journalism covered libel law, ethics, newspaper design, article writing, and journalism history. These notes from her J192 course cover access to public records, something that was to become a central focus of Keever’s later career.

Student Council

Keever served on UNL’s student council and was very active in council proceedings. On this page of her UNL scrapbook, Keever saved newspaper clippings about her voting record.

Kappa Tau Alpha

Kappa Tau Alpha is an American college honor society which recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication. Keever became a member in her senior year and documented her experience in her UNL scrapbook. 

Alpha Xi Delta

In 1955, Keever went to Massachusetts to receive an Alpha Xi Delta award. This program includes the dinner menu, a list of events, and Keever’s notes on one of the speeches.

Graduation

In June 1957, Keever graduated from UNL. She won a journalism scholarship on her graduation and planned to immediately go to Columbia University School of Journalism to get her Masters degree.

Columbia University and New York City

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree from UNL in 1957, Beverly attended Columbia University in New York City. While there, she studied under the interviewer Samuel Lubell, for whom she would work for two years after obtaining her master’s degree with honors in 1958. Beverly also participated in a trip to the U.S.S.R. and other Warsaw Bloc countries sponsored by the YWCA in 1958.

Learning from Samuel Lubell

Keever was trained in interviewing for public opinion at Columbia University by Samuel Lubbell, who was famous for predicting the outcome of elections based on public opinion interviews. These notes are likely for interviews she did under his supervision.

Covering the United Nations

Being in New York City gave Keever opportunities to cover international politics. For one of her courses in 1957, Keever was tasked with covering the proceedings at the United Nations.

Travelling to the USSR

In 1958, Beverly Keever joined a youth YMCA trip to the USSR. She wrote Associated Press articles about her experience and about life in the Soviet Union.

Keever's letters to her family

This is a letter Beverly Keever wrote to her parents and sister from Alma Ata, Khazakhstan, during her trip through the USSR in 1958. The letter discusses hiking, illness of Keever’s travelling companions, writing AP articles, Sputnik, and visiting a collective farm.

Next section: Travels through Asia.

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