Archive for the ‘Original documents’ Category

Continuing the series of discovering hidden genealogy resources:

Iowa Women’s Archives
100 Main Library, 3rd Floor
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242


website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa/
Open Tuesday thru Friday, 10:00 a.m. to Noon; 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

I happened upon this gem as I was surfing the internet. Since we were going to be in Iowa City recently, I wanted to investigate this resource. We met Janet Weaver, the Assistant Curator, who graciously guided us through their facility.

The Iowa Women’s Archives (IWA) was founded in 1992 by Louise Rosenfield Noun and Mary Louise Smith, both well-known Iowa women. The archives now includes more than 1,100 manuscript collections which chronicle the lives of ordinary Iowa women and place them in context with their families and communities. Included are photos, scrapbooks, letters, diaries, speeches, club minutes, newspaper clippings, memoirs, and other materials, some dating to Civil War and 1880s. Topics of special interest involve preserving the Iowa history of Mujeres Latinas, African-American women, and women’s suffrage. However, all topics and all walks of life are represented: artists, legislators, judges, writers, farm wives, young girls, film producers, to list a few.

Collection topics can be found at: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa/CollTop/#o

Many oral histories are among the original source materials: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa/topical-holdings-lists/oralhistories/

IWA is privately funded, but is located in the university library, uses student interns to help process the collections and is able to access library conservation staff expertise and resources. However, this creates some confusion because the listings for the collection’s online catalog appear to be intermingled with the university collections.

The repository is constantly receiving new materials and we saw quite a number of boxes waiting to be processed.

During our tour, Janet pulled a variety of items off the shelves for us to see. We were impressed that many very precious, irreplaceable items are now safe and will be accessible for many years to come thanks to the generosity and vision of the founders, supporters and staff.

The archives welcomes visitors and researchers, high school and college students, scholars, and even family genealogists!

Thank you, Janet!


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Continuing the series of Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:

I visited this fascinating museum twice. During my first visit I discovered some interesting records and wanted to know more, but the curator, Becky Allen, was out of town. I emailed her and set up an appointment with her. When I walked in, she immediately recognized me. We have talked previously at a couple of area church dinners! What a small world! Becky is the Curator and her husband is the Treasurer for the museum.

Becky is very enthusiastic and loves to tell “John L.” stories. The large, inviting museum with its exquisite displays is divided into five sections: 1) John L. Lewis with his days of labor unionization and politics, 2) coal mining in the area, 3) Old Lucas town, 4) the theater, which also has some old maps, and 5) the library. On my first visit I was intrigued with the many exhibits. On my second visit, I was most concerned with the library. For more information http://www.coalmininglabormuseum.com/main2.html.

The library contains scrapbooks from the community and a nice mining book section, however, I found some genealogical treasures here! Original records! Not indexed; not microfilmed!

Some of these records include
1) Lee Hart Drug Store ledger 1907-1909
2) Norman Baker Ledger, July 1900 – Aug 1902
3) Justice of the Peace Records for Lucas, approx. 1910-1941

However, the most exciting records were
4) United Mine Workers Association Local Union #799 Financial Secretary’s book 1926 – 1956 with records of dues paid, date of admittance and whether by card or initiation, death benefits paid and to whom
5) photocopy of UMWA LU#799, which was chartered 1899, meeting minutes 1903-1907
6) Secretary’s record of UMWA #1933, Chariton for 1901-1915
7) five huge ledger books for UMWA District #13 financial records, 1920s to possibly 1951

Combining the information I found in several sources, it appears UMWA District #13 included the following unions (but no guarantees that this list is all inclusive):
10 Valley Junction
43 Clarkdale
55 Des Moines
56 Colfax
87 Williamson
97 Oskaloosa
152 Ottumwa
154 Newton
178 Beacon
201 Brazil
206 Seymour
242 Avery
275 Cloverleaf
372 Rathbun
387 Jerome
390 Williamson
392 Coalville
422 Oakdale
479 Mystic
534 Flagler
536 Hamilton
553 Centerville
601 Spring Hill
634 Mystic
692 Lockman
718 Jefferson
775 Cincinnati
788 Hartford
793 Albia
799 Lucas
812 Exline
840 Snider
845 Diamond
869 Boone
875 Numa
885 Bussey
907 Rainbow
910 Blakesburg
916 Hiteman
933 Swan
942 Rider
948 Des Moines/Ivy
981 Pershing
1039 Fraser
1047 Des Moines
1110 Dawson
1121 Hocking
1136 Des Moines
1139 Des Moines
1140 Des Moines/Economy
1422 Carlisle
1504 Melcher (Dallas)
1873 Streepyville
1907 Bloomfield
1933 Chariton
2433 Ogden
2460 High Bridge
2482 Durfee
2485 Shuler
2652 Darbyville
3492 Four Mile
3585 Haydock
3593 Sheriff
3771 Harvey
3802 Rexfield (New)
3845 Madrid
4330 Moran/Woodward
4875 Herrold
5480 Cummings
5629 Drum & Monkey
5634 East Madrid
6571 Summerset
6654 Knoxville
6686 Des Moines
6740 Indianola
6748 Kirkville
6967 Pella
6987 Hamilton

I asked about a map showing all of these locations, but there isn’t one in this museum.

Just as I was nearly ready to leave, Becky remembered some boxes in the back room. Five file boxes containing pension files for union members deceased in the 1960s and 1970s. These files contain their application for pension, records of payments and death benefit/beneficiary information. Oh, my goodness!

Becky also told me some rather disappointing news: they do not have staff to do research for people. So, if you want to research these records you either need to visit yourself or find someone who can visit for you. I think a job waits a volunteer who lives in the area!

Thanks, Becky and the other members of the Museum commission! You truly have a wonderful facility.

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Some projects just can’t be accomplished in one full swoop.

At one point my office and our basement family room were filled with boxes, as well as our spare bedroom and our store room… in other words, practically our entire basement was a massive storage unit. This was mostly the stuff I had received from my mother as she downsized a couple different times.

Not all of this stuff is paper, but a large percentage is paper. By paper, I mean undocumented research notes, photocopies of documents, notes with more than one surname on a sheet of paper, several different family groups sheets for the same individual—created at different times when my mother found something, loose photos, a few stories my mother has written, more photocopies of documents, and a few original documents. Then, also letters, diaries, calendars, lots of newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and photo albums. Some of these things were my mother’s, but some belonged to her mother, other things belonged to her uncle and aunt.

Every time we have downsized my mother, for the most part, I have been more interested in the genealogy/family history side than in getting a lot of things: vases, dishes, baskets, silverware, glassware, needlework, etc. Please rest assured, however, I have gotten my share of those things, as well.

So, a few months ago, I purchased a bunch of cardboard file boxes. In fairly small letters I labeled the lids with family surnames. We set up a couple of 5-foot tables and placed the boxes side-by-side on the tables. One by one, I opened each of the many boxes of stuff and sorted as many paper and photographic items as possible into family groups placing the items in the appropriate surname box. I did not make any attempt to further divide the items within the surname or to label the items. I just sorted into the surname group. Otherwise, it would have been much too easy to get bogged down in the detail. These cardboard file boxes were then stacked in the spare bedroom. While sorted by family surname, they remained difficult to access, but certainly in better order than they were previously.

During the marathon sorting session last weekend, Dave and I emptied several file drawers. This past weekend I transferred items from the surname boxes into file drawers labeled with the respective surnames. I have hanging folders in the drawers, so I divided up the items and placed them into the hanging folders. Again, I did not make any other attempt to sort the items. That will come later. For now, I’m just happy to be making the treasures more accessible in the drawers.

I’m making progress—a baby step at a time.

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