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



PAPERS, 1922-1999
(bulk, 1951-1985)

7 linear feet


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:
Margaret Keyes Papers, Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.


Collection Overview

The papers (donor no. 39) were donated by Margaret Keyes to University of Iowa Special Collections in 1994. They were transferred to the Iowa Women’s Archives in 1997 and additions were made in 2000 and subsequent years.
The papers are open for research.
Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa. 
One videocassette (V371) shelved in the videocassette collection.
In Boxes 12, 17 and 18.
Processed by:
Bridgett Williams-Searle; Heather Stecklein, 2002; Kate Stewart, 2007. [KeyesMargaret.doc]


Margaret Naumann Keyes, professor of Home Economics at the University of Iowa and nationally recognized leader in the field of historic preservation, was born in Mount Vernon, Iowa on March 4, 1918.  As a child, Keyes enjoyed unique access to the academic world. She frequently accompanied her father, Charles Reuben Keyes on his archaeological travels. She attended Cornell College and graduated in 1939 with a B.A. in Home Economics.

Following her graduation, Keyes taught home economics at several Iowa high schools and pursued her graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin during summer terms. She received an M.S. in Related Art in 1951. She joined the Home Economics faculty at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) for the Fall 1951 term. On the advice of home economics department chair F. Eugenia Whitehead, Keyes took a leave of absence from her position in Iowa to enroll in the graduate program at Florida State University. There, Keyes studied historic preservation under the direction of Dr. Janet Smith. In 1961, Keyes’ graduate expenses were alleviated when she won the prestigious Ellen H. Richards Fellowship from the American Home Economics Association. She completed her Ph.D. in 1965 and published her dissertation, “Nineteenth Century Home Architecture of Iowa City,” a year later. She returned to the University of Iowa and taught a variety of courses including Textile Design, Historic Interiors, and research seminars.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Keyes led Iowa’s drive to preserve and renovate its historic structures. She served on a diverse set of historic preservation groups, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Johnson County Bicentennial Commission. Keyes also served as a board member for the State Historical Society of Iowa, the Terrace Hill (the Iowa governor’s mansion) Authority, and the Iowa City Urban Renewal Design Review Board.  Keyes’ most important work in historic preservation was her direction of the restoration of the Old State Capitol in Iowa City. From 1975 until 1988, Keyes organized massive research and restoration projects for the structure. Her work restored the building into a museum that reflected its uses by Iowans over time. In 1988, she published Old Capitol: Portrait of a Landmark (University of Iowa Press), which details her research findings and restoration accomplishments.

Throughout her work in home economics and historic preservation, Keyes sustained memberships in a variety of professional organizations. As chair of the research committee of the Iowa Home Economics Association, Keyes initiated the first institutional history of the organization and organized an annual statewide research survey. In addition, she served on both the state and national boards of directors for the Victorian Society of America. Keyes’ commitments as director of Old Capitol, speaking engagements, and service work left her with little time to fulfill her duties as professor in the Home Economics department. She gradually decreased her course load and officially retired as full professor in 1984.

Keyes relished chances to travel, and toured the world whenever her schedule and the health of her companion, F. Eugenia Whitehead, allowed her the opportunity. The two traveled to a variety of exotic locations, including Israel, Jamaica, Taiwan, and Europe. For over thirty years, the two shared a home on Ferson Avenue in Iowa City that was renowned for its gracious hospitality. Eugenia Whitehead died in 1998.

Scope and Content Note

The Margaret Keyes papers date from 1922 to 1999 and measure 7 linear feet.  The papers are arranged in nine series: Personal, Home Economics, University of Iowa Activities, Nineteenth Century Home Architecture in Iowa City, Old Capitol Restoration, Organizations, Artifacts, Photographs, and Education.

The Personal series (1944-1999) documents Keyes’ world tour with F. Eugenia Whitehead in 1968. In addition, it includes over fifty years of correspondence from Keyes’ family and friends. Materials regarding Keyes’ membership in the Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Beta Kappa honors societies round out the series.

The Home Economics series (1953-1990) documents Keyes’ work and activities in Home Economics while she was a faculty member at the University of Iowa. The Correspondence subseries (1956-1987) contains correspondence between Keyes and students, the University of Iowa Home Economics department, and various home economics related groups and businesses. The Courses subseries (1955-1984) includes syllabi, class notes, weaving samples, and student projects from the courses that Keyes taught at the University of Iowa. The Professional Activities subseries (1953-1990) documents Keyes’ work in Home Economics outside of the University of Iowa Home Economics Department.  Some notable components of this series are Keyes’ personal weaving records, materials from Keyes’ study trips to Europe, and letters to Keyes from other universities offering her positions. The final subseries contains materials regarding Keyes’ membership in Home Economics Professional Associations (1951-1974).  It contains meeting minutes and materials from Keyes’ work on the art section of the American Home Economics Association and correspondence regarding Keyes’ involvement with the Iowa branch of that organization.

The University of Iowa Activities series (1957-1990) includes information regarding Keyes’ activities at the University outside of the home economics department and Old Capitol restoration. The series details her involvement in exhibits at the University of Iowa Arts Museum and her activities on a variety of university committees including the Campus Planning Committee, the University of Iowa Architecture Committee, and the Council of the Friends of the University of Iowa Libraries.

The 19th Century Home Architecture of Iowa City series (1957-1985) provides information on Keyes’ published work and her activities to promote it. It includes short magazine pieces that Keyes published on her research and publicity materials regarding her work. In addition, the series contains handwritten speech notes that Keyes used when presenting her work to area clubs and organizations.

The Old Capitol Restoration series (1931-1992) contains materials from Keyes’ work as director of the restoration of the old state capitol in Iowa City. The bulk of the series consists of Keyes’ original drafts from throughout her writing process for the work Old Capitol: Portrait of a Landmark. The series also contains publicity materials, speech notes, and information about the historic preservation awards she received in recognition of her work on the project.

The Organizations series (1971-1993) documents Keyes’ work in historical organizations. The series is divided into three categories—city and county organizations, state organizations, and national organizations—and includes correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, conference materials, research materials, programs, and speeches. While most of the organizations are represented by just a folder or two, there are substantial files documenting Keyes’ involvement in the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Board of Trustees, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Iowa City Urban Renewal Board, and the Victorian Society of America.

The Photographs series is divided into five subseries: Miscellaneous, Terrace Hill Society, State Historical Society of Iowa, University of Iowa Home Economics Department, and Negatives. Researchers may also find photos of Keyes’ travels and personal life in the Floy Eugenia Whitehead papers of the Iowa Women’s Archives.


The series used to organize the 2007 accession mirrors the series used in earlier accessions, but it also includes one new series, Education. The 2007 accession consists of correspondence with Keyes, including original cards from local artist Eleanor Simmons, a video interview of Keyes, and additional research, career-related items, slides and photographs. The Education series (1951-1965) documents Keyes’ work as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin and Florida State University. It includes notebooks, assignments, research and essays for classes. The correspondence concerns the progress Keyes made on her PhD while she was living in Iowa City.

Related Collections

University of Iowa Home Economics Department Records
Floy Eugenia Whitehead Papers
Keyes Family Papers

Box List

Box 1                  
    Margaret Keyes and F. Eugenia Whitehead travels, 1968
1967-1999 (5 folders)
Omicron Delta Kappa, certificate and nomination correspondence, 1979
Phi Beta Kappa, Cornell College Alumni chapter, 1975
    Keyes, Charles Reuben (father) (see Box 13)
  Home Economics        
      1956-1968 (3 folders)        
Box 2                  
      1968-1987 (3 folders)
      Course outlines and curriculum, 1955-1961
Course summaries, evaluations, syllabi, and objectives, 1974-1984
Course outlines, proposed: Historic textiles and Design in home and clothing, undated
Summer school course outline, 1963
Saturday classes, 1954-1958
17:100 Introduction to Home Economics, 1968-1969
17:107 Survey of Interiors, 1962-1967
17:113 Textile Design
Box 3                  
      Course Instructions, 1959-1970
Weaving, planes, undated
Weaving, dots, undated
Weaving, lines, undated
Weaving, color, undated
Weaving, sample warps (3 folders)
17:114 Interior Decoration, 1969-1974
17:121 Senior Seminar, 1963-1971 (2 folders)
Fall 1970
17:183 Advanced Textile Design
        Course instructions, 1952 and undated
News releases, 1970
Box 4                  
      17:221 Seminar in Home Economics Research, 1968-1969
17:289 Directed Study and Research in Home Economics
Thesis, 1963
17:290 Thesis Seminar, projected for second semester, 1969-1970
    Professional activities        
      Book reviews, 1961-1968
Bulletin Boards, 1953-1962
Catalogue material, other universities
Departmental positions at other universities, correspondence, 1968
European study tour, 1971
Fabric design education, Philadelphia conference, November 1961
Foreign study, 1966-1970
Graduate programs in home economics, 1955-1961
Graduate study applications, 1958-1960
History and philosophy of home economics, 1968
News releases, 1957-1981
Ph.D. higher education and home economics, 1963
Professional biographies, 1980-1983
Radio programs, 1955-1956
Related art Ph.D. 1959-1960
Vita, 1957-1990
Weaving records, undated
    Home Economics professional organizations        
      Home economics associations, 1961-1972
American Home Economics Association
        Aesthetic responsibility workshop, 1974
Art section meeting, Detroit, 1972
Box 5                  
      Art section nomination committee, 1965-1970  
        Publicity, 1951-1961
Research journal 1972-1973
      Iowa Home Economics Association, correspondence and publicity, 1969-1974  
  University of Iowa activities        
    Business and Industrial Placement, 1966
Campus Campaign Committee, 1988
Campus planning committee, correspondence and publicity, 1981-1984 (2 folders)
Committee on Institutional Cooperation, 1970
Council of the Friends of the University of Iowa Libraries, correspondence and publicity, 1971-1976
Film Services, 1957
Iowa Hall/Macbride Hall Campaign, correspondence and publicity, 1981-1982
University of Iowa Art Museum
Antique furniture exhibit, 1985
Correspondence, 1985
University of Iowa Alumni Association, distinguished alumni award, 1989
Box 6                  
    University of Iowa Architecture Advising Committee, 1984
University of Iowa Building Names Advisory Committee, 1983- 1990
University of Iowa Foundation, correspondence and publicity, 1971-1973
University of Iowa Library Committee, 1966
  19th century home architecture of Iowa City
    Iowa City 19th Century Homes study abstract, 1965
“Iowa City’s 19th Century Houses” The Iowan, 1967
19th Century Home Architecture of Iowa City, publicity and correspondence
      1957-1985 (2 folders)        
    “Nineteenth Century Home Architecture of Iowa City” [paper presentation at American Home Economics Association conference, 1968]
Speeches to Iowa City area clubs, 1967-1968
  Old Capitol restoration        
      1971-1989 (2 folders)        
Box 7                  
    Jan Nash, “Window Treatments in the Old Capitol,” 1987
“Old Stone Capitol” by Harold Peterson, 1931
National Endowment for the Humanities grant, 1978
University of Iowa developmental leave applications, 1978, 1981-1983
Publicity, 1970-1992 (3 folders)
Materials written by Keyes on Old Capitol
       “The Gallery will be reserved for the Ladies,” Annals of Iowa, 1973
A Home Economist does Historic Preservation,” Journal of Home Economics, 1975 [with correspondence]
Old Capitol: Portrait of a Landmark
        Handwritten draft        
Box 8                  

Early typed manuscript (copy)

          Chapter 1-4 (2 folders)        
        Corrected typed manuscript        
          Chapter 1-5 and epilogue (3 folders)        
        Final manuscript (3 folders)        
      Old Capitol Speeches [presented by Margaret Keyes to area organizations], 1972-1990 (2 folders)
Presentation at the Iowa Home Economics Association, correspondence, 1973-1974
Honors and Awards
        Historic preservation awards, 1977
Box 9                  
        Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission award, 1987  
    City and county organizaitons        
      Brackett House restoration, Cornell College, 1977
Iowa City Architectural Heritage Committee, 1967-1968
Iowa City Urban Renewal
        Design review board, 1971-1975
Design committee plans, 1975
Design committee review, 1975
      Kirkwood and Dodge feasibility study
Johnson County American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, correspondence, 1974-1976
Johnson County Citizens’ Advisory Board, 1976
Johnson County Historical Society, correspondence and publicity, 1975-1992
    State organizations
      Iowa Capitol Planning Commission, architecture selection committee, 1978
Box 10                  
      Iowa Commission on the U.S. Constitution Bicentennial, 1986-1988 (2 folders)
Iowa Historical Foundation
        Board membership, 1990
Correspondence, 1989-1990
      Iowa Museum Association
        Correspondence and newsletters, 1988
Meeting, October 1985
      Iowa Society for the Preservation of Historic Landmarks, 1967-1972
Iowa Territorial Sesquicentennial Committee, 1988
State Historical Department of Iowa, Division of Historic Preservation
        Iowa historic preservation conference, 1974
Iowa historic preservation programs, 1974-1976
Iowa State University workshop on historic restoration, 1976
      State Historical Society of Iowa, Board of Trustees
        Appointment papers, 1982-1988
Board of Curators, Correspondence, 1972-1986
Board membership, 1984-1989
Correspondence with Governor Terry Branstad, 1988-1990
Historic preservation speeches by Keyes, 1991 and undated
Iowa Cultural Caucus, Keyes speech introducing Willard and Susan Boyd, 1990
Iowa Historical building dedication, 1987
Iowa Historical Building opening, 1988
Publicity and correspondence, 1973-1993
      Terrace Hill Restoration        
        Correspondence, 1971-1975
Furnishing collection correspondence, 1971-1985
Images, 1980
Publicity, 1971
Box 11                  

National Organizations

      National Trust for Historic Preservation
        Conferences, 1973-1976
Correspondence and publicity, 1973-1978 (5 folders)
      Putnam Museum (Davenport, Iowa) 19th Century architecture exhibit, 1985
Victorian Society of America

Activities, 1982-1983
Correspondence, 1971-1979 (2 folders)

Box 12                  
        Correspondence, 1980-1988
Lifetime membership materials, 1979-1982
Newsletter submission, “Iowa’s First Capitol to be restored”, fall 1973
Offices and committees 1974-1983
Publications Committee Meeting minutes and publicity, 1974-1980
Upstairs/downstairs workshops, 1978
Victorian Society of Iowa Foundation, 1984
Terrace Hill Authority
State Historical Society of Iowa
University of Iowa Home Economics Department
Box 13                  
  Personal (cont. from Box 1)        

Keyes, Charles Reuben (father)

      Miscellaneous papers, 1947-1988
State Historical Society of Iowa
Correspondence with Bertha Shambaugh
 “The Keyes Archeological Collection: A Finder’s Guide,” 1981
“History of the Central Section of the American Anthropological Association,” 1978, 1979
2007 ACCESSION        
Box 14                  
  Personal (cont. from Box 13)        
    Margaret Keyes and F. Eugenia Whitehead travels
      Passports and journals, 1959-1976
Receipts and itineraries, 1964-1967
      1987-1991 and undated
From Eleanor Simmons, 1958-1990 (2 folders)
    “Tell Me Your Story #27: Margaret Keyes,” interview by Ellen Buchanan, Iowa City Public Library, 1991 (VHS, 31 minutes) [shelved in videocassette collection: V371]
    University of Wisconsin
      HE 114: Techniques of Interior Design, undated
“A Procedure for Study in High School Related Art,” 1951
    University of Florida
      Art 470: American Art, 1961
Box 15                  
      Art 470: American Art, 1962
Art 476, 1962
Art 591-A, 1962
CD 482, 1960
C&T 514, 1962
HE 590, undated
HFL 16, “An Annotated Bibliography of Literature Related to the Proposed Study of Home Architecture of Iowa City”
HFL 519 and 516
HFL 514, HFL 519, and LS 500, 1960
Library Science 500, 1960
“A Study of Weaving in Sweden” and “Wallpapers Used in Homes of America from 1700 to 1900,” undated
Correspondence, 1959-1965
Box 16                  
      Correspondence, 1959-1965 (2 folders)
    “Color Coordination for Model Home,” undated        
  Home Economics (cont. from Boxes 1-5)        
    17:159, David L. Cordes, “The Henry Ambler House of Mount Pleasant, Iowa,” 1981
Mabel Skjelver, 17:23: Art in the Home, 1969
Master’s degree questions, 1961-1984
Retirement, 1982-1986
  University of Iowa activities (cont. from Boxes 5-6)        
    Presidential residence restoration, 1907-1990  
  19th century home architecture of Iowa City (cont. from Box 6)
    Iowa stone structures notes, undated
Newspaper clippings, 1978-1999 (2 folders)
Proposal and notes, 1957-1962
Research and bibliographies, undated
Box 17                  
    Research articles, 1917-1958
  Organizations (cont. from boxes 9-12)        

Certificates and awards, 1975-1995 (2 folders)
Iowa Local Historical and Museum Association, 1972
Miscellaneous, 1985-1998

    Signature stamp, undated        
  Photographs (cont. from Box 12)        
    Iowa City homes
Portraits, 1922-1994
World tour, 1966 and Simmons family, 1969-1980
Box 18                  
    Framed and oversize, undated (2 folders)
Europe, 1981
      Cedar Rapids; Boston, AAEA, 1967
Annual banquet, Home Economics, 1969
Senior tea, 1971
Fallbrook, California, August 1971; 306 Ferson, 1971-1972
Patio remodeling, 1971; Scenic Athens, Georgia
Athens, Georgia, 1971; Savannah beach, 1971; Easter, 1972
Apollo 15, 1971; Apollo 16, 1972
Barnes, Wisconsin, 1972; Pownalls and Simmons, 1972
Jamaica, 1973
Jamaica and Sarasota, Florida, 1973
Orlando, Winter Park, Athens, Georgia, 1973; Kent State Park, Iowa, 1973
Georgia vacation, 1974
La Jolla and Corona del Mar, California, 1974
California, 306 Martha and friends, 1974
Summer, 1975
Georgia, Chataqua, Phil, NY, 1976
Jamaica, 1977; Carter inauguration Easter (Pownalls and Simmons), 1980
Effigy mounds; Wisconsin Pownall’s picnic, undated
Houses in Athens, Georgia, undated


general information | history and mission | collections | reference services | news and events | home

For more information about this collection contact the Iowa Women's Archives.

Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City IA 52242.
Copyright © 2005. The University of Iowa. All rights reserved.
Please send comments to:

Page created April 2007.