ALDEEN DAVIS (1916-    )


PAPERS, 1954-1995

1.5 linear feet and audiovisual material





The papers (donor no. 382) were donated by Aldeen Davis in 1996 and 1998.


The papers are open for research.


Copyright has been transferred to the University of Iowa.


One audiocassette shelved in audiocassette collection (AC357); two videocassettes shelved in videocassette collection (V101, V102).


In boxes 1, 2, and 3.


Lindsay Jones, 1998. [DavisAldeen.doc]


January 27, 1999, Robert Jett.


Aldeen Jones Davis, writer and community activist, was born in Centerville, Iowa, in 1916.  She married William Davis in 1939 and later moved to Muscatine.  She belonged to several African-American women’s clubs:  the Sue M. Brown Federated Women’s Club; Semper Fidelis Federated Women’s Club, of which she was president from 1964 to 1965; and the Muscatine Federated Women’s Club, of which she was a charter member.  In 1978 she began writing a column on African-American history and modern life for the Muscatine Journal entitled “Soul Food and Thought,” which ran until 1990.  In 1984 Davis published Soul Food for Thought, a book-length compilation of some of her articles.  She wrote regularly for the Iowa Bystander, a long-running African-American-owned newspaper, and the Muscatine Journal.  She published several articles in Prime Time, a publication for Iowa senior citizens, from 1988 to 1990.


Davis’s numerous contributions to her community included serving on the Muscatine Human Rights Commission and the Equity Committee of the school board.  She also served on the Muscatine Public Library board from 1977 to 1983.


Davis was a dietary supervisor at a nursing home and designed workshops to train others in nursing home nutrition.  She was an active member of the Muscatine Garden Club, serving as historian, and was president of the Muscatine Herb Pals from 1982 to 1994.  She taught classes at Muscatine Community College, and was a member of the Writers on the Avenue group, a group of Iowa and Illinois writers devoted to critiquing and publishing members’ work.  She took up painting after retiring in the late 1970s, and photographs of her work can be found in box 1.

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Scope and Content Note


            Begin text here:The Aldeen Davis» papers date from »1954 to 1995 and measure 1.5 linear feet»1/5 1.  The »papers »are arranged in »8 series:


Personal (undated) includes biographical sketch of Davis and biographical notes by Davis.


            Community organizations (1954-1992) includes involvement in church, club, and civic activities.  The earliest entry in this series, the Bethel A.M.E. Sunday School record, details the revitalization of the school, one of Davis’s first community service activities.  The series also includes records from the Semper Fidelis Federated Women’s Club; by-laws, correspondence, reports, and minutes of the Muscatine Federated Women’s Club; and scattered records from various civic activities, including the Equity Committee, the Muscatine Human Rights Committee, and the Muscatine Public Library Board.

Scope and Content Note (cont.)


Interviews (undated) contains two videotaped interviews of Davis.  The “Touchstone” interview was broadcast on Iowa Public Television.


Awards and presentations (1989-1992) includes the Governor’s Volunteer Award and other honors Davis received, primarily from 1989 to 1992.  It also contains photographs of Davis’s art (c. 1989).


Educational activities (1977-1993) includes classes given and participated in by Davis.  Davis participated in an intergenerational writing project which paired senior citizens with elementary school children.  The series also includes two Writers on the Avenue publications.


Newspaper clippings and manuscripts (1975-1992) contains Davis’s written work unrelated to “Soul Food for Thought.”  These articles were published in the Iowa Bystander, the Muscatine Journal, and Prime Time.


Soul Food for Thought (book) (1984) includes a copy of Soul Food for Thought, published in 1984, and correspondence and public response to it.  [Soul Food for Thought is shelved in the printed works collection in the Iowa Women’s Archives; an additional copy can be found in the Iowa Authors Collection in Special Collections.]


“Soul Food and Thought” (column) (1978-1991) contains clippings and manuscripts of Davis’s long-running column.  In one of her scrapbooks, Davis notes, “’Soul—Food and Thought’ first appeared in August of 1978 in the Muscatine Journal.  It was picked up soon after by the Common Bond—Davenport and the Iowa Bystander—Des Moines[,] both Black Publications.  The Common Bond is no longer in existence, and the Iowa Bystander could no longer afford to pay for the column.”  The scrapbook in box 5 is dated from 1982 to 1988 but contains only material from 1982 to 1985.


Related Collections


Billie Lloyd papers

Daughter of Aldeen Davis.

Muscatine Artists in Action

            Davis wrote with its subgroup, Writers on the Avenue.

Muscatine Garden Club records

            Davis was an active member and donated the records in 1996.

Muscatine Herb Pals records

Davis was an active member of the group for many years and was president from 1982 to 1994.

Seasoned Citizens

Davis’ writings are included in several issues.Begin text here:»

Box no.   Description

Box 1


Biographical material, undated


Community organizations

Bethel A.M.E. Sunday School record, 1954

“Muscatine Black Families and the A.M.E. Church,” undated   [shelved in audiocassette collection: AC357]

Semper Fidelis Federated Women’s Club, 1965

Scrapbook, 1964-1965 [oversize: in box 3]

National Notes, December 1965

Muscatine Federated Women’s Club

Formation, 1967-1971 and undated

Scrapbook (disbound, 2 folders), 1967-1971

Civic committees and boards, 1969-1992

Muscatine Herb Pals, 1984-1992



“Touchstone,” WOC Midday, undated (29 minutes) [shelved in

videocassette collection: V101]

Iowa Commission on Aging—Interview with Aldeen Davis, undated

(27 minutes) [shelved in videocassette collection: V102]


Awards and presentations

Governor’s Volunteer Award, 1989

Miscellaneous presentations, awards, and art, 1989-1991


Educational activities

Classes and workshops, 1977-1982 and undated

Intergenerational writing project, 1989

Writers on the Avenue, 1991, 1993


Box 2

Newspaper clippings and manuscripts





Soul Food for Thought (book)

        Soul Food for Thought by Aldeen Davis (PiP Copy Center, 1984,

paperback) [shelved in printed works collection]

Correspondence and related material, 1984


“Soul Food and Thought” (column)


1978-1981 [oversize: in box 4]

1982-1985 [oversize: in box 5]




Retrospective (10 years), 1988






Box 3


Community organizations

Muscatine Federated Women’s Club

Scrapbook, 1964-1965

Box 4

“Soul Food for Thought” (column)




Box 5