Edith Kellman was born on April 4, 1911 in Walworth, Wisconsin to Ludvig and Ellen Levander Kellman. Kellman attended Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Kellman worked at the Yerkes Observatory as a photographic assistant, where she worked with William Morgan and Philip Keenan to develop the Yerkes system, an influential system of stellar classification.
After leaving the observatory, she taught mathematics at Williams Bay High School.
The MKK classification system was introduced in 1943 and was used by Morgan, Keenan, and Kellman to map the spiral structure of the Milky way using O and B stars. A variation on this system is still used today in stellar classification.