Born Frances Neel on August 19th in Washington D.C. to Carrie Tucker and Thomas Meeks Neel. She grew up in Newbury, South Carolina. She is the grandniece of Sam Davis, a confederate war hero.
Graduated from high school in Newbury, South Carolina. Played the role of Miss Cherry Blossom in Miss Cherry Blossom, Maid of Tokyo. Began school at Vanderbilt University in the Fall. As a student, she studied with John Crowe Ransom, worked at the Vanderbilt Library and was, among others, good friends with Cleanth Brooks, with whom she had a written correspondence.
Within three weeks, she graduated with an Bachelors Degree in Sociology from Vanderbilt University on June 13, married Brainard Cheney on June 21 in Nashville, Tennessee, and began a full time job at the Vanderbilt University Library.
Served as head of the Reference department at Vanderbilt University and then for the Joint University Libraries which was formed in 1942 as a consortium among Vanderbilt, George Peabody College and Scarritt College.
Received the Bachelor of Science Degree in Library Science from George Peabody College.
Summer graduate study at the University of Chicago.
Attended Columbia University for graduate work.
Received her Master of Library Science Degree from Columbia.
Took over writing the "Current Reference Books" column for the Wilson Library Bulletin temporarily for Louis Shore, ended up writing the column for thirty years. Also, took over the editorship of an American Library Association sponsored book entitled, Research Librarianship. The war delayed publication and eventually the volume was set aside.
Lived in Washington D. C. Worked at the Library of Congress. Together with Allen Tate, who had a one year appointment as the Chair of Poetry, they compiled a poetry bibliography, Sixty American Poets, 1896-1944, which was published by the Library of Congress General Reference and Bibliography Division. For the year the Tates were in Washington, they shared a house with the Cheneys and together they entertained many of their literary friends.
Began teaching reference courses at Peabody Library School. The Cheneys moved to Smyrna, Tennessee where Frances had inherited Idlers Retreat, a large Antebellum home.
She was consultant for the Tennessee Regional Library Service.
Spent a year in Japan, at Keio Gijuku University, helping to establish an American style Library School. Edited, with Yukiko Monji, An Annotated List of Selected Japanese Reference Materials, for the Library Studies Series of the Japanese Library School at Keio Gijuku University.
Great Human Issues of Our Times, published by Peabody College. Frances Cheney contributed a chapter titled "Books and Reading in the Modern World."
Worked on the American Library Association Reference Services Division Public Library Reference Survey.
Assumed the Associate Director position of the Peabody Library School.
Received a honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Marquette University.
She was a frequent contributor of book reviews to the Sunday Tennessean Newspaper.
Folcroft Library Editions reprinted Sixty American Poets, 1896-1944.
Her book, Fundamental Reference Sources, was published by the American Library Association. She wrote the Forward for K. Setty Umapathys American Books for Library Science Programs in Developing Countries with Special Reference to India, which was published in India in 1972.
Officially retired from Peabody Library School as professor emerita and continued to teach on an as needed basis. Virginia Reavis Lyle compiled, My Friend F.N.C. in Review, a collection of representative book reviews by Frances Cheney that appeared in the Tennessean from 1972-1975.
Special Collections in Libraries of the Southeast, edited by J.B. Howell is published for the Southern Library Association by Howick House, with an Introduction by Frances Cheney.
The second edition of Fundamental Reference Sources is published by the American Library Association with inclusions by Wiley J. Williams.
October 18, Edwin S. Gleaves on Coffee Break on WPLN-FM Nashville Public Radio, discusses Reference Services and Library Education: Essays in Honor of Frances Neel Cheney.
Lexington Books published Reference Services and Library Education: Essays in Honor of Frances Neel Cheney edited by Edwin S. Gleaves and John Mark Tucker. Along with Ashley Brown compiled and edited The Poetry Reviews of Allen Tate 1924-1944, published in the Southern Literary Studies Series by Louis D. Rubin, Jr. out of the LSU Press.
Terrye Newkirk submitted Cheers: Letters of Flannery OConnor to Brainard and Frances Neel Cheney, 1953-1958 as Masters Thesis at Vanderbilt University.
The Correspondence of Flannery OConnor and the Brainard Cheneys, compiled by C. Ralph Stephens, was published by the University Press of Mississippi.
Frances Neel Cheney died on May 5th, at the age of 89.
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