Regina Zimmerman Kelly was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1898, where she began writing at age 10.
After graduating from St. Mary’s Dominican convent school, she taught at a high school. In 1920 she
obtained a Ph.D. in education and history from the University of Chicago and later studied journalism at Northwestern. Afterwards, she taught history at Austin High School, where she also served as the school’s chair of the social sciences department, as well as the directory of publicity.
Kelly was a prolific writer and author. She wrote for numerous magazines, including Family Circle, Rotarian, Seventeen, Catholic Digest, America, and Parent’s Magazine. Kelly's later works focused on American cities and historical subjects for young readers based upon her career as a teacher. Some of her works include Abigail Adams: The President’s Lady; Chicago: Big Shouldered City; Henry Clay: Patriot and Statesman; Lincoln and Douglas: The Year of Decision; Paul Revere: Colonial Craftsman; and New Orleans: Queen of the River. These titles earned her numerous awards and accolades.
Kelly donated her original manuscript of Chicago: Big Shouldered City to the Oak Park Public Library in August 1963.