»PAPERS, DATES:» 1937-1993

QUANTITY:»5.8 linear feet and audiovisual material






The »papers (donor no. 144) were donated by »Mary Ovrom in 1993.


The »papers are open for research.


One videocassette shelved in videocassette collection (V27).


Copyright has been transferred to the University of Iowa.


In box 14


Your name, year»George Mullally, 1994.


Begin text here:»Dora Jane Hamblin was born June 15, 1920 in Bedford, Iowa.  Her father was the editor and publisher of the Bedford Times-Press and Dora--"Dodie" to her friends--was encouraged by her parents and her teachers at Bedford High School to write.  She attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids where she became editor of the Coe College Cosmos and a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.  She graduated "magna cum laude" in 1941 and then attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she earned a master's degree from the university's Medill School of Journalism in 1942.


For the next two years she was employed as a reporter and photographer for the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  In June of 1944 she resigned from the paper, joined the American Red Cross and served in Australia, the Phillippines, the Southwest Pacific, Japan, and Europe.  During this period she continued to contribute articles to the Cedar Rapids Gazette about her experiences with the United States troops and the native populations she came in contact with.  She was eventually named overseas staff correspondent for the Red Cross official publication, The Red Cross Courier, and contributed extensively to that publication.


In mid-1948 Hamblin joined the staff of Life magazine in New York as a researcher.  Within eighteen months she was named a correspondent in the Paris office.  There followed two years as correspondent in London, two in Chicago, and four years, beginning in 1956, as chief of the Life bureau in Rome, Italy, where she directed Life's coverage of the death of Pope Pius XII, the election and coronation of Pope John XXIII, and the 1960 Olympic games.


In 1960 Hamblin was recalled to the New York office to serve as assistant editor, associate editor, and finally as staff writer, one of only three women ever to achieve that position on the magazine.  From February 1967 until December 1969, she was stationed one-third of her time in Houston, Texas, to provide coverage of the space program and of the astronauts and their families for Life.  She conducted interviews with all of the astronauts and did extensive research on technical details of this first manned moon flight.  During this period she, along with Life's Gene Farmer, wrote First on the Moon (1970), an account of the first moon landing by Apollo 11.  This work was officially approved by the three members of the crew, Neil Armstrong, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, and Michael Collins.  It was also during this period of time that Hamblin was bestowed the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by Coe College in Cedar Rapids.


            In 1970 Hamblin resigned from the Life staff and retired to Trevignano, Italy, a lakeside resort near Rome, to live and work as a free lance writer.  She continued to submit articles to Life until the magazine folded at the end of 1972.  She also wrote on archaeological subjects for the Smithsonian as well as for Sports Illustrated and World.  Several of her Life articles were reprinted in Readers Digest.


One of Hamblin's major interests was archaeology and she wrote several works on the subject: Pots and Robbers (1970), Buried Cities and Ancient Treasures (1973), and The Appian Way, a Journey (1974).  She also wrote two volumes of the Time-Life Books series entitled The Emergence of Man, namely The First Cities (1973) and The Etruscans (1975), and wrote a section of the series' first volume, Life Before Man (1972).


During the years 1973 to 1975, Hamblin worked with stage and screen star Mary Martin and was, in effect, the "ghost-writer" of Martin's autobiography, My Heart Belongs, published in 1976.  The year 1977 saw the publication of That Was the Life, Hamblin's collection of stories about the magazine she had worked for for twenty-three years.


Hamblin's active, far-ranging life came to an end August 17, 1993, when the writer and Iowa native died of a heart attack at her home in Trevignano, Italy.  She was 73.



Scope and Content Note


            The Dora Jane Hamblin papers date from 1937 to 1993 and measure 5.8 linear feet.  They are organized in four series: Biographical material and oral history, Writings and research, Family papers, and Photographs.


            The first series, Biographical material and oral history (1967-1993), is arranged in two subseries.  The first subseries, Biographical material (1967-1993), contains a precis of Hamblin's life written by her sister, Mary Ovrom; newspaper clippings about and a program of the 1968

Coe College commencement at which Hamblin was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature; correspondence from Frank Paluka, Head of Special Collections, University of Iowa, concerning the donation of manuscript and book draft materials to the university; a copy of her obituary from

the Des Moines Register dated August 22, 1993; and a eulogy to Hamblin by her sister, Mary Ovrom, from her column in the Van Buren County Register.  The second subseries, Oral history, consists of a videocassette of Hamblin made on  January 8, 1988 in which she discusses the highlights of her professional career.  The cassette has been removed and shelved separately in the Videocassette Collection (no. V27).


            The second series, Writings and research (1937-1981), is organized chronologically into seven subseries.  The first subseries, Early writings (1937-1942) contains book reviews, term papers, manuscripts submitted for publication to various women's magazines, and poetry written while she was a student at Coe College.  Also in this subseries is a photographic essay entitled Girl Scout Camping Trip, compiled while she was at Northwestern University.  The second subseries, Cedar Rapids Gazette articles (1944-1947), contains articles about United States troop conditions submitted by Hamblin while serving as an American Red Cross staff assistant in Australia, the Phillippines, the Southwest Pacific, Japan, and later in the European theater of war.  The third subseries, Red Cross Courier articles (1945-1948), contains articles submitted by Hamblin in her capacity as an American Red Cross staff correspondent.  However, contributions to other periodicals and clippings from various United States newspapers as well as photographs by Hamblin published in International Events are also included.


            The fourth subseries, Life file (1948-1981), is by far the most extensive portion of these papers.  It contains Hamblin's original drafts and revisions of articles, research and background material sent to Life magazine for rewrite or development by senior staff editors and copies of original articles published in Life under her own by-line.  It also includes descriptions of photographs submitted to the editorial offices in New York.  A significant portion of this subseries, indeed, of this entire collection of papers, is devoted to Hamblin's assignment to Houston, Texas in 1969 to cover the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.  Contained herein is extensive research material, scientific and personal, on man's first landing on the moon.  Of primary importance are her interviews with all the major personnel associated with the flight, NASA personnel included, but with special emphasis given to the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins, and their families.  All material in this extensive subseries is arranged alphabetically by the author's own subject headings.


            The fifth subseries, Miscellaneous articles (1968, 1982), contains articles from the Coe College Courier (July 1968) and the Smithsonian (July 1981).  The sixth subseries, Reviews of Hamblin's books, contains reviews of The Appian Way and That Was the Life from Iowa newspapers.  The seventh subseries consists of a single, unpublished and undated manuscript (ca. 350 leaves) of the life of film actress, Sophia Loren, entitled simply "Sophia."  The manuscript covers Loren's life up to 1966.


            The third series, Family papers (1939-1993), is divided into three subseries.  The first, "Mrs. Hamblin's children ," consists of an autobiography by Mary Margaret Ovrom, Hamblin's sister, written in 1975.  The second subseries, "Around the bend," contains a collection of columns by that title from the 1980s, written by Mary Ovrom for the Van Buren County Register, the Des Moines Register, and the Ottumwa Courier.  The column occasionally appeared under the title "Mary-go-round".  The third subseries, "In our town," contains a collection of columns by that title dated 1939 to 1963 from the Bedford Times-Press by Allen W. Hamblin, the paper's editor and publisher for forty-one years.  Of special note in this subseries is a published letter from Dora Jane Hamblin describing her Mexico-Yucatan trip in 1955.  It also contains a 1955 letter from James McCutcheon of the Mount Vernon Hawkeye-Record to A.W. Hamblin requesting information on the early history of chautauqua performances in Bedford, Iowa, and a copy of a eulogy to A.W. Hamblin by his daughter, Mary Ovrom, from the Cedar Rapids Gazette, dated May 5, 1974.


            The fourth series, Photographs (1937-1969) consists of contact sheets, negatives and, less frequently, prints of personal trips taken by Hamblin and photographs of locations and persons associated with her many assignments for Life magazine.  The first subseries, Personal and family (1937-1961), is arranged chronologically.  The second subseries, Life articles (1951-1969), is arranged alphabetically by Hamblin's subject headings.

Box no.   Description

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Box 1

»Biographical material and oral history, 1967-1993

Biographical material, 1967-1993 (photographs in box 14)

Oral history, Jan. 8, 1988 (VHS, 1 hour, 50 minutes) [shelved in videocassette collection: V27]


Writings and research, 1937-1981

Early writings, 1937-1942

Coe College, 1937-1941

Book reviews and term papers

Stories submitted to women's magazines

Unsubmitted stories


Northwestern University, 1942 (Girl Scout Camping Trip: photographic essay)

Cedar Rapids Gazette articles, 1944-1947

Red Cross Courier articles, 1945-1948

Life file, 1948-1981

Accademia Chigiana and Count Chigi, 1956-1961

Adventure, 1957-1960

Africa trip, 1960

Alpine bears--Italian Dolomites, 1959-1960

Alto Adige, Italy, 1957

American liberals, 1949


Box 2

Americans abroad, 1957

Animal-vegetable oddities, 1954

Apollo 11 mission, 1969

Apollo program (general) and space history

Apollo 10

Apollo 11


First person interviews

Geology (2 folders)

Astronauts' wives

Apollo 12


Astronauts' wives


Box 3

Astronauts' widows

Bedford (Iowa) Times-Press article

Book (First on the Moon)

Correspondence and memoranda

Editorial revisions

Interviews (2 folders)

Photograph descriptions

Contract with Life magazine

Enos the chimp, Gordon Cooper, Deke Slayton

Eric's Pub

Exercise class

Flagstaff operation

Freeman and Freeman Library

Good works


Box 4

Health--Dr. Berry

Landing sites

Life support systems

Lunar receiving lab

Manned Space Center, Houston

Moon names controversy

Moon probes

Music in space

Names and patches



Aldrin, Edwin (Buzz) (2 folders)

Anders, William


Box 5

Armstrong, Neil

Armstrong, Mrs. Steven

Bean, Alan

Borman, Frank

Carpenter, Scott

Cate, Ben

Cernan, Gene

Charlesworth, Cliff

Collins, Mike (2 folders)

Conrad, Charles (Pete)

Cooper, Gordon

Cunningham, Walt

Duke, Charlie


Box 6

Eisele, Donn

Evans, Ron

Garriott, Owen

Gibson, Edward

Gilruth, Bob

Glenn, John

Gordon, Dick

Grimwood, Jim

Grissom, Virgil (Gus)

Haise, Fred

Kerwin, Joseph

Lind, Don

Llewellyn, John A.

Lovell, Jim

Mathews, Charles

McCandless, Bruce

McDivitt, James (photograph in box 14)

McDonnell, Frank Morgan

Michel, Curt

Morse, Ralph

O'Hara, Dee

Phillips, Samuel

Pogue, Bill

Schirra, Wally

Schmitt, Harrison (Jack)

Schweikart, Russell (Rusty)


Box 7

Scott, David

Shea, Joseph

Shepard, Alan

Slayton, Donald (Deke)

Stafford, Tom

Williams, Clifton

Worden, Alfred

Young, John


Rescue in space

Scientist astronauts

Soviet--United States space statistics

Space-ese acronyms


"To the moon and back" [special edition of Life]


Architects and architecture, Italian, 1957-1960

Army housing scandal, 1949

Art frauds, 1959

Artists, 1951-1960

Atomic energy program--Oppenheimer, 1954

Avery, Sewell, and Montgomery Ward, 1955

British public figures (Makins, Bevan), 1952

Brussels Exposition, 1958


Box 8

Busch family--St. Louis, 1954

Callas, Maria, 1955-1960

Cardinals of the Church, 1957-1960

Churches--Relevance in American religious life [1968?]

Churchill's [Winston] funeral, [1965]

Civil War--Albert Woolson, Duluth, Minnesota, 1954

Coal--Great Britain, 1952

Communism and American efforts against, 1951, 1958

Communism--France, 1950

Communists--United States--Trial, 1949

Confederate Air Force, 1964-1968 (2 folders)

Crosby, Caresse, 1954-1966 (photographs in box 14)

Denmark, 1952, 1957

Depression--Charles City, Iowa, 1954-1955

Devil's Advocate--Vatican official [1966]

Displaced persons--Lithuania, Germany, 1948-1949


Box 9

Dolci, Danilo, 1957-1960

East-West Conference, 1965 (photographs in box 14)

Eisenhower [Dwight] in Rome, 1959

Etna, Mount--Geology, 1960

Evarts, Kentucky--Police chiefs, 1948

Fads, American, [1964?]

Fangio, 1957

Farm story--Bruene family, Iowa, 1954

Farms--National Farmers Organization, 1956

Fashion, 1951-1959

Festivals, Italian, 1957-1958

Finney, Albert, undated

Fort Wayne, Indiana, poorhouse, 1949

Fullerettes, 1948

Gilbert and Sullivan, 1952

Grand Duchess Olga, 1960

Greek theater, 1950 (photographs in box 14)

Hilton hotels, [1963?]

Holland, 1950 (photographs in box 14)

Home to Iowa: the loving Christmas ritual of a journey into childhood, 1972 [reprint: Coe College, 1993?]

Household gadgets--France, 1950

Humor, 1953-1957

Hunt, James V., 1949

International crime--Italy, 1958-1960

Iowa reapportionment, 1964

Italy--Natural beauty, 1958-1960

Japanese-Americans, 1956

Josie, Edith, 1963-1964


Box 10

Kennedy [John F.] gun, 1965

Key clubs--Chicago, 1955

Kidd, James, 1964-1967

Khrushchev's [Nikita] clothes, 1957

Levittown, Long Island--Housing discrimination, 1949

Liquor--Iowa, 1964

Louisiana story, 1969

McCarthy [Joseph] background, 1954

McKenny, Roth, 1957

Mad vicars and religious customs, 1951-1966

Mark (Ye) (the) Twain, 1964

Mexico trip--Yucatan, 1955 [original letter to her parents and as republished in the Bedford (Iowa) Times-Press] (photographs in box 14)

Movies and movie reviews, 1952-1968 (2 folders)

Murder cases--Rome, London, Paris, 1951-1957

Mussolini and fascism, 1952 (photographs in box 14)

Naples, Italy, 1958


Box 11

Nilsson, Birgit, 1964-1965

Odd sites and sights--Italy, 1958

Olympics and Nervi, 1952-1960

Opera and singers, 1959-1969

Palio horse race--Siena, Italy, 1959-1960

Perryopolis, Pennsylvania--Inheritance, 1948

Phillips, John, undated

Pignatari, "Baby", 1958

Police--Rome, undated

Pucci, Emilio, 1969

Queen Mary (Ocean liner), 1967

Rand, Ayn, 1957-1967

Ravenna, Italy, 1957

Religious art, 1958

Robinson, Sugar Ray, 1951 (photographs in box 14)

Russian athletes--1950 Olympics, 1950-1952

Russian dignitaries in Iowa, 1955

Sahara expedition (Mori), 1959


Box 12

Schmidt, Lars, 1964 (photographs in box 14)

Scholl, Dr.--Feet, 1954-1968

Sculpture and sculptors, 1953-1957

SETAF, 1956-1957

SHAPE [Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe]-NATO-Ike-Baghdad pact, 1950-l959

Sharif, Omar, 1966

Ships, 1957-1960

Sicily and Mafia, 1957-1959

Sioux City, Iowa, 1967

Smith, William Russell--inventor, 1949

Somalia, 1963-1964

Southern Illinois, 1955

Stamps--Royal Philatelic Collection, 1952-1959

Stout, Juanita Kidd, Judge, [after 1964]

Supermarkets abroad, 1957-1958

Swindlers, 1960

Tourists in Europe, 1949, 1959

Tourists, Italian, and other, 1968

Toys, 1958-1959


Box 13

Traffic, Automobile--Rome, Paris, London, 1951-1960

Trastevere (Rome, Italy), 1959-1963

Tree houses, 1955

Truman, Harry S., 1955

Truman's [Harry S.] civil rights program, 1949

Truman's [Harry S.] Russian A-bomb announcement--United Nations reaction, 1949

Twins and Jonathan Goldberg, undated

United Electrical Workers, 1949

Ustinov, Peter, 1952-1953

Venice, Italy, 1958

Villas, palaces, resorts, gardens, 1957-1959

War brides and other brides, 1947-1958

War stories--World War II, 1951-1958

Miscellaneous articles, 1968,1981

"The space program will change our lives" (Coe College Courier, 1968)

"At RAGBRAI time in Iowa, everybody puffs to Keokuk" (Smithsonian, 1981)

Reviews of Hamblin's books, 1975-1977

"Sophia" [unpublished manuscript], [ca. 1966]

Chapter I-VI

Chapter VII-XIII

Chapter XIV-XX


Box 14

Family papers, 1939-1993

"Mrs. Hamblin's children", 1975, by Mary Ovrom

"Around the bend": a collection of articles from the 1980's, by Mary Ovrom

"In our town": a collection of columns, 1939-1963, by Allen W. Hamblin, compiled by Mary H. Ovrom


Photographs, 1937-1969

Personal and family, 1937-1961

Formal portraits (2) undated; passport picture, 1954 (negative); Hamblin with her niece, undated (4 negatives)

Coe College, 1937-1941 (140 negatives)

Girl Scout Camping Trip: photographic essay prepared at Northwestern University, 1942 (housed in box 1)

Hamblin with Alfred Eisenstadt, New York, 1949 (1 color negative)

Middle East trip, 1950 (24 contact sheets, 11 negatives, 32 prints)

Germany and Switzerland trip, 1950

Contact sheets (10)

Negatives (75)

Switzerland--General (10)

Berchtesgaden (6)

Berne and Interlaken (7)

Murren (35)

Oberammergau (17)

France, 1950-1951

Contact sheets (15)

Negatives (81)

France--General (10)

Barbizon (6)

Fontainebleau (9)

Mont St. Michel (6)

Nice and Riviera (11)

Paris (34)

Provins (5)

European trip with parents, 1951 (6 contact sheets, 1 negative)

Spain trip, 1952 (9 negatives)

Snowstorm scenes at Chicago apartment, 1955-1956 (1 contact sheet, 4 negatives)

Italy, 1956-1960 (folder 1)

Views of Hamblin's office, apartment, street scenes, etc., 1956-1960 (24 contact sheets, 44 negatives)

Italy, 1956-1960 (folder 2)

Agrigento, 1959 (1 contact sheet, 3 negatives)

Gloria Lane party, 1960 (6 negatives)

Palio, Siena, 1960 (2 contact sheets, 4 negatives)

Ravenna--Gold Medal, 1960 (2 negatives)

Renata di Renzo, 1960 (5 negatives)

Coe College alumni award, 1961 (4 contact sheets, 19 negatives)

Life articles, 1951-1969

Crosby, Caresse, 1954-1966 (1 print, 1 negative)

East-West Conference, 1965 (9 prints)

Greek theater, 1950 (4 contact sheets, 13 negatives)

Holland, 1950 (4 contact sheets, 2 negatives)

McDivitt, James, 1968 (1 color print)

Mexico trip--Yucatan, 1955 (2 contact sheets, 7 negatives)

Mussolini and fascism, 1952 (8 prints)

Robinson, Sugar Ray, 1951 (1 negative)

Schmidt, Lars, 1964 (3 contact sheets)