Iowa Women's Archives
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa



PAPERS, 1906-2000

2 linear feet
and audiovisual material


Iowa Women's Archives
100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Phone: 319-335-5068
Fax: 319-335-5900
E-mail the Iowa Women's Archives

Please cite materials from this collection as follows:
Frances Hawthorne Papers, Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.


Collection Overview

The papers (donor no. 713) were donated by Frances Hawthorne in 2003 and subsequent years.
The papers are open for research.
Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa. 
Eight audiocassettes (AC885-AC892) shelved in the audiocassette collection.
Two videocassettes (V286-V287) shelved in the videocassette collection.
Processed by:
Lisa Mott, 2004; Kate Stewart, 2006.  [HawthorneFrances.doc]


Frances E. Hawthorne was born in 1929, the oldest of nine children.  Hawthorne grew up on a farm near Eolia, Missouri, where she walked three miles each way to attend a segregated school.  In 1947 Hawthorne started college at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.  She moved to Des Moines, Iowa, following her marriage to Peter Hawthorne.  Frances Hawthorne taught fourth and fifth grade history in Des Moines schools before becoming the principal of Edmunds Academy of Fine Arts (Des Moines), which offered a creative learning environment for kindergarten through fifth grade children by combining fine arts with the curriculum.  Hawthorne retired in 1990.  In 1992 the Iowa Humanities Board awarded a grant to the African American History Project, which sponsored Hawthorne’s research resulting in African-American History in Iowa: A Chronicle of Contributions, 1830-1992. In 1996, Hawthorne joined a group of historians who began working on a comprehensive book about African Americans in Iowa, Outside In: African American History in Iowa, 1838-1998, which was published in 2000. Hawthorne wrote “Chapter 16: The Church.”

Scope and Content Note

The Frances Hawthorne papers date from 1906 to 2000 (with the bulk dating from 1950 to 1996) and measure 2 linear feet.  The papers are arranged in five series:  Iowa Humanities Board Grant, Oral Interviews, Research Materials, Outside In, and Black History in Iowa

 The Iowa Humanities Board Grant series contains the 1991 letter awarding the African American History Project a major grant and the June 6, 1992 progress report.

The Oral Interviews series consists of audiocassettes and transcripts for interviews Frances Hawthorne conducted in the spring and summer of 1992.  The interviews were conducted in several Iowa communities and contain a record of what it was like to grow up black in Iowa during the twentieth century.  Those interviewed include: Frances Brewton (Des Moines), Geraldine Brown (Burlington), Frances Carson (Des Moines), Betty Jean Furgerson (Waterloo), Gwendolene Barry Harris (Des Moines), Marjorie Marsh (Ft. Madison), Artice Maxwell (Marshalltown), Bessie Spencer (Marshalltown) and Paul Wilson, who shared his memories of the now defunct Buxton, Iowa.  The series also contains handwritten notes Frances Hawthorne took during the interviews. The towns listed are where the interviews took place, but describe the shared experience of growing up in various Iowa communities.  For example, Brewton attended schools in Estherville, Davenport, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City; while Carson lived in both Clarinda and Red Oak before moving to Des Moines.

The Research Materials series contains journal articles, newspaper clippings, flyers and pamphlets, memoirs, and secondary sources that Frances Hawthorne collected about African Americans in Iowa.  The series maintains Hawthorne’s original filing system.  The series begins with general materials regarding black history in Iowa.  These materials include articles about blacks in Iowa, Hawthorne’s handwritten research notes, articles regarding the Underground Railroad in Iowa, copies of the 1937-1941 “Federal Papers” concerning blacks in Iowa county by county, and a videocassette produced by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., entitled James P. Thompson: 51 Years in the Bond, 1941-1992.  Thompson discusses what it was like to attend the University of Iowa in Iowa City as a black man, the history of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in Iowa City, and how fraternity brothers in Des Moines and across the state carried on the chapter’s goals in their professional lives following graduation from the university.            

The bulk of the Research Materials series consists of newspaper articles, flyers, pamphlets and notes about various Iowa communities, particularly Buxton and Des Moines.  The Buxton materials include articles, an audiocassette of the 1992 Buxton Reunion Banquet, a copy of Reuben Gaines’ memoir of growing up in Buxton and the videocassette You Can’t Go Back to Buxton, produced for public television in 1979 and narrated by Mary Jane Odell.  The Des Moines materials include articles, flyers, pamphlets, and handwritten notes.  The series also contains secondary articles from various Iowa history journals. 

The Outside In series contains Hawthorne’s research files for the chapter she contributed to Outside In: African American History in Iowa, 1838-1998 on Iowa’s black churches. The planning meeting materials consist of agenda programs and notes on publication. The chronological files contain notes and research materials from these time periods, and correspond to the sections of Hawthorne’s chapter. The additional research files contain primary source materials such as newspaper clippings, church publications and photographs; and secondary source materials such as published articles on Iowa black history and two master’s theses by Iowa State University students,  The Negro Church in Iowa by Hazel Smith (1926) and The Bystander: A History of the First 25 Years by Sally Stevens Cotton (1983). The series concludes with Hawthorne’s drafts of the chapter (titled “Chapter 8”) and her bibliography.

The Black History in Iowa series contains materials Hawthorne collected about Iowa’s African American history. These include pamphlets and information about black history events in Iowa, newspaper clippings on African American women, research on the Underground Railroad in Iowa and general newspaper clippings. The series includes six issues of The African-American Journal, a publication of the Iowa Commission on the Status of African Americans. The series concludes with the program from the National Iowa Club (an organization for black Iowans living outside the state) Reunion Homecoming in 1996. This spiral bound book contains many photographs and historical documents from Center Street, the heart of the African American neighborhood in Des Moines until the 1960s.

Related Collections

Betty Jean Furgerson Papers
Teacher, social worker, human rights commission director, and university regent from  Waterloo.

Marjorie Marsh Papers
Fort Madison, Iowa, native, and active club member and volunteer.

Verda L.Williams Papers
Filmmaker and producer; communication specialist in Iowa State University's
Extension Communication Services. Wrote and produced the documentary "Black
Des Moines: Voices Seldom Heard" which was utilized as a resource by Frances
Hawthorne. (shelved in videocassette collection: V06)

Box List

Box 1                  
  Biographical information, 1960      
  Iowa Humanities Board Grant, 1991-1992      
    [A copy of Hawthorne’s resulting research, African-American History in Iowa: A Chronicle of Contributions, 1830-1992, is shelved in the IWA’s printed works collection.]
  Oral Interviews, 1992      
    Brewton, Frances (Des Moines), transcript and audiocassette [ac892]
Brown, Geraldine (Burlington), transcript and audiocassette [ac888]
Carson, Frances (Des Moines), transcript
Furgerson, Betty Jean “B.J.” (Waterloo), transcript and audiocassette [ac891]
Harris, Gwendolene Barry (Des Moines), audiocassette [ac889]
Marsh, Marjorie (Ft. Madison), transcript and audiocassette [ac886]
Maxwell, Artice (Marshalltown), audiocassette [ac890]
Spencer, Bessie  (Marshalltown), audiocassette [ac890]
Wilson, Paul (Buxton), transcript and audiocassette [ac887]
Notes, 1992
  Research files      
    Black History in Iowa
      Collected materials, 1983-1996 and undated
“Federal Papers,” 1937-1941 (2 folders) [photocopies]
General articles, undated
Notes, 1992 and undated
Underground Railroad, 1913, 1956, 1967, 1992 and undated
Videocassette, James P. Thompson: 51 Years in the Bond, 1941-1992 produced by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., 1992 [V286]
    Bangor Township
Brown, Geraldine
Strother, Terry
Box 2                  
Audiocassette, Buxton banquet, 1992 [ac885]
Reuben Gaines’ memoir, undated
Newspaper clippings
Videocassette, You Can’t Go Back to Buxton, Jody Lomenzo producer/director, 1979 [V287]
    Cedar Falls
Cedar Rapids
Council Bluffs
Des Moines
      Articles, 1950, 1992 and undated
Flyers and pamphlets, 1985, 1990-1992 and undated
General, 1991 and undated
Notes, undated
Personalities, 1992 and undated
Newspaper clippings
    Secondary research materials, 1970-1990
      “George Washington Carver in Indianola” by Ed Carty, 1990
“The Anti-slavery Movement” by James Connor, 1970
“James B. Morris and the Iowa Bystander” by Henry G. LaBrie III, 1974
“The Founding and Early Years of the NAACP in Des Moines, 1915-1930” by Jack Lufkin, 1980
“Black Disaffection from the Republican Party During the Presidency of Herbert Hoover, 1929-1932” by George F. Garcia, 1980
“White Men, Black Laws: Territorial Iowans and Civil Rights, 1838-1843” by Robert R. Dykstra, 1982
Box 3                  
  Outside In      
    Planning meeting, 1999
Des Moines African American churches
Miscellaneous church research (4 folders)
Bible Ancestors African American History Project
Black churches publications, 1906-1997 (2 folders)
Box 4                  
    Black churches pictures (2 folders)
African American churches: for follow up
Published articles, 1947-1992 and undated
      The Negro Church in Iowa by Hazel Smith, 1926
The Bystander: A History of the First 25 Years by Sally Stevens Cotton, 1983 [incomplete]
    Drafts, 1997-2000 and undated
  Black history in Iowa      

Black history events and celebrations, 1986-1999 and undated
Underground railroad, 1906-1987 and undatedBlack women, 1914-1996 and undated
African American Journal, 1996-1998
Newspaper clippings, 1912-1999 (2 folders)
“National Iowa Club Reunion Homecoming: Remembering Center Street,” 1996



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