Skip to main content

Linda Keir papers

Identifier: COU:920

Scope and Contents

The Linda Keir Papers consist of various materials from government agencies, citizen activist organizations, media, Downwinders, and scientists concerned with radiation and Hanford. Other topics include Chernobyl, the use of depleted uranium in the Gulf War, and other nuclear plant sites in the U.S.

The Papers have been divided up in the following manner: I. CORRESPONDENCE. Mostly emails. Foldered by organization or subject and chronologically within the folders. It will be easiest to navigate correspondence by date. II. CLIPPINGS. Booklets, reports, editorials, and newspaper/magazine articles. Grouped by subject when applicable with some overlap between subjects. Some articles, such as articles on specific health conferences, will be in the appropriate Organizations folder. Ordered roughly chronologically within folders with undated papers at the back. III. SUBJECT FILES. Conference records, outreach materials, studies, reports, and administrative/planning papers. Ordered chronologically in folders when applicable. IV. SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS. Specifically peer-reviewed scientific articles. V. MISCELLANEOUS. Personal materials, other odds and ends. VI. AUDIO-VISUAL/BOOKS. Tapes and VHS of documentaries and conference sessions/books related to radiation. Of note are tapes from the 1994 HHIN conference “Radiation Health Effects and Hanford: A Conference for Concerned Citizens and Health Care Providers.”

Some acronyms: Government ATSDR – Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry HHES – Hanford Health Effects Subcommittee HHIN – Hanford Health Information Network HEDR – Hanford Environmental Dose Reconstruction HTDS – Hanford Thyroid Disease Study NIOSH – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Citizen PSR – Physicians for Social Responsibility CNR – Committee for Nuclear Responsibility CRU – Columbia River United HDC – Hanford Downwinders Coalition HEAL – Hanford Education Action League ICHHP – Intertribal Council on Hanford Health Projects NCI – National Cancer Institute NWHRA – Northwestern Radiation Health Alliance


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950 - 2007

Conditions Governing Access

This collection contains or may contain private and personally identifiable information (PPII). Researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement in advance of access to collection materials. Contact for more information.

Copyright Statement

The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers may not make notes, reproductions (including photographs), or other record of any private and personally identifiable information (PPII) located in this collection and may not publish, publicize, or disclose that PPII to any other party for any purpose. Exclusions may apply to researchers who have obtained authorization from the University of Colorado Institutional Review Board to produce human subject research records in de-identified form. All researchers must sign the University Libraries’ Private and Personally Identifiable Information Agreement indicating their understanding of the use restrictions for PPII found in this collection. Contact

Biographical Note

Ms. Linda Keir was born in 1948 to the Steveson family in Pendleton, OR. Prior to her birth and through her first year, the family lived on the Umatilla River within the Umatilla Indian Reservation, though they were not members of the tribe. They maintained a very outdoors-oriented lifestyle, with a diet rich in locally hunted and grown meat, vegetables and milk, providing many potential exposure pathways for Hanford's radioactive contamination.

Ms. Keir's parents ran a drive in theater in Pendleton. They eventually started a lumber mill outside of Pilot Rock, OR., the operation of which unfortunately took the life of her half-brother. When Ms. Keir was ten years old, the family moved to Northern California; two years later, her parents divorced, and Ms. Keir moved to central California with her mother. Ms. Keir graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1966. During high school, she qualified as a National Merit Finalist and learned to play bassoon, participating in the All-State Symphony Orchestra.

She then studied Organic Chemistry at Reed College, graduating in 1970. In 1973 she earned a history MA from the University of Montana. Afterwards, she worked as a teaching assistant at University of Iowa for a few years; she then moved back to Oregon to start a small business and B&B. During this, she married Paul Keir and eventually moved to his ranch in north central Oregon. Paul died in 1996.

In the early 1970s, Ms. Keir was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a common ailment among Hanford "Downwinders." Her mother had developed cancer in the 1950s, and had been a Downwinder during the heaviest releases in the 1940s.

The 1980s saw the government admit that Hanford had released, both unintentionally and intentionally, a significant amount of radioactive pollution. Even before this event, locals had wondered about the consequences of living near Hanford. Around 1990, Ms. Keir became involved with Columbia River United (CRU). CRU's Board of Directors asked her to join them after she volunteered for Native American river access issues. CRU, along with Rudi Nussbaum and the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), eventually held a meeting with Downwinders to discuss possible Hanford-related health effects. It was at this meeting that Ms. Keir, along with Rudi Nussbaum and Pat Hoover, decided to establish the Northwest Radiation Health Alliance (NWRHA). This was one of many activist organizations that sprang up to tackle the issues of government openness and the health of Downwinders.

In 1995, Ms. Keir was appointed to the federal Hanford Health Effects Subcommittee (HHES) because of her previous experience with NWRHA and CRU. Government interests and Downwinder interests often conflicted, as can be seen in the files for the various activist and government organizations.

Linda Keir retired in 2005 and currently runs a small ranch on the lowest slopes of Mount Hood, growing hay and keeping horses.


12 linear feet (23 Boxes)

Language of Materials



The Linda Keir papers are concerned with Hanford, Washington's nuclear production plant and its effects on the region and its residents. There is extensive activist and government material regarding Hanford and other nuclear/pollution issues across the U.S. and abroad. Numerous scientific articles, mostly on the health effects of radiation, are included.


This collection is arranged into the following series: Series 1: Correspondence, n.d. Series 2: Articles and Publications, n.d. Series 3: Subject Files, 1985-2004 Series 4: Scientific Publications, 1982-2004 Series 5: Miscellaneous, n.d. Series 6: Audio-Visual and Books, 1979-2002 Subseries 6.1: VHS, 1992-1996 Subseries 6.2: Tapes, 1994 Subseries 6.3: Books, 1979-2002

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Given by Linda Keir in 2009.

Inventoried by Brenda Kessenich, 2013. Organized by Brenda Kessenich, 2014. Transcribed by Katelyn Morken, July 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States