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Dean A. McGee papers

Call Number: RH MS 537


Dean A. McGee (1904-1989), a Kansas native and University of Kansas graduate, was a petroleum biologist and leader in the utilities and energy industry. This collection of McGee's papers is comprised of subject files, arranged in sections alphabetically, pertinent to his involvement with the Kerr-McGee Corporation and the petroleum and energy industry.


  • Creation: 1949 - 1975


Conditions Governing Access

These materials are stored in the KU Annex off-site storage area. All researchers interested in reviewing this material must consult Spencer Research Library staff (785-864-4334, 9-5 M-F CST) no less than three days in advance of a planned visit. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Dean A. McGee (1904-1989)

Dean Anderson McGee was born on March 20, 1904 in Humboldt, Allen County, Kansas, to George Gentry and Gertrude Hattie (nee Sayre) McGee. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1926 with a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering and went on to work for Phillips Petroleum Company based out of Bartlesville, Oklahoma – where he met his future wife, Dorothea Antoinette Swain, who was also a geologist at Phillips. McGee eventually became the chief geologist at Phillips, which brought him to the attention of Anderson and Kerr Drilling Company, whose president Robert Kerr made McGee vice president in 1937.

McGee married Dorothea in 1938, and they resided in Oklahoma for the rest of their lives. He eventually gained the title of Chief Operating Officer at Anderson and Kerr when Robert Kerr became governor of Oklahoma in 1943. During this time, he and Dorothea had two daughters, Marcia Ann Bieber (born August 1940) and Patricia Dean Maino (born October 1942).

In 1945 McGee started a project studying the ocean floor off the coast of Louisiana, convinced that there were untold oil stores under the world’s oceans. With Kerr’s political influence, the company was able to acquire a WWII barge and began drilling. McGee played a key role in the project, providing advice on underwater drilling. Due in large part to these accomplishments, the company was renamed Kerr-McGee and Company in 1946, and he was promoted to president. He was named CEO in 1954, and in 1958 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Kerr-McGee became one of the largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies.

McGee dedicated a large part of his income and time later in life to civic improvement and other philanthropic endeavors. Some of these donations and contributions went to the University of Kansas, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the Dean A. McGee Eye Institute, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Oklahoma Heritage Association, the Oklahoma Historical Society, and the Oklahoma Zoological Society. He retired in 1983 and devoted his energies full-time to philanthropy. McGee’s wife Dorothea passed away on December 17, 1988, and McGee passed away less than a year later on September 15, 1989 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They were survived by their two daughters and their spouses and are buried together at Rose Hill Burial Park in Oklahoma City.

[Information retrieved from census records, findagrave obituaries, and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.]


254 Linear Feet (254 boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

RH MS 537

Immediate Source of Acquisition


Processing Information

This collection has been minimally processed. Materials are in their original folders or binders; folder numbers found in this finding aid are, therefore, not on the pieces themselves.

Guide to the Dean A. McGee Collection
Dean A. McGee papers
Finding aid prepared by rlf, 2006. Finding aid encoded by rlf, 2006. Finding aid revised by kls and mwh, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Dean A. McGee papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 537, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States