»RECORDS, DATES:»1897-1996

2QUANTITY:»2.5 linear feet



The »papers (donor no. 156) were donated by the Proteus Club, Des Moines, Iowa in 1993 and 1997.


The »records are open for research.


Copyright has been transferred to the University of Iowa.


In box »6.


Your name, year»Robert J. Jett, 1993.




In October of 1896, seven young women, having graduated from college and finished touring Europe, founded the Proteus Club.  In Greek mythology Proteus was a learned sage with knowledge of all things past, present, and future.  The object of this newly formed club was intellectual improvement.  A letter, written in 1937 by Louise Elbert Everett, founding member, recalls the small group of women who "....met together and unhesitantly decided, (to) have a study club....swathed in many underpinnings, long skirts, high-boned collars, lots of hair, hour-glass figures,...we had a beautiful and sublime trust in God, our country, our state, our city, our families, ourselves."  The membership soon grew to 25.  In 1922 the first delegates were appointed to the city and State Federation of Women's Clubs.


Members take turns preparing papers to be read at the club's meetings.  A wide range of topics has been dealt with over the years, including: "Is co-education desirable?", "Should a married woman hold a job?", the League of Nations, American diplomacy, planning and zoning in Des Moines, Golda Meir, Iowa wetlands, Gorbachev, Native Americans, computers and alcoholism.


One of the remarkable characteristics of Proteus is longevity, both in the members and the club itself.  Many members have remained active until their deaths, some for 70 years or more.  In 1993 the club had 58 members, the longest active member having joined in 1938.


Noteworthy projects of the club include publishing a cook book to raise funds for an art gallery in 1900, supporting two war orphans in France and Belgium during the first world war, buying and selling towels made by the blind, and donating materials to the Des Moines Art Center.

Scope and Content Note


            Begin text here:»The Proteus Club records measure 2.5 linear feet and date from 1897 to 1996.  The records are arranged in four series: Administrative files, Programs, Photographs, and Projects.


            The first series, Administrative files (1897-1996), includes the constitution, by-laws, and articles of incorporation; correspondence (including one letter from the Woman's Peace Party and one letter from the Woman's Section of the Navy League of the United States); financial reports; and a history written in 1993 by Mrs. Julian (Win) Bruner.  A nearly complete set of minutes, dating from 1897-1911 and 1917-1986 forms the core of this series.


            Programs (1900-1993) are arranged in three sub-series: papers presented at meetings, special events and celebrations, and program yearbooks.  Papers, dating primarily from the 1970s to the 1990s, are arranged chronologically.  A list of authors and titles is appended.  In 1913 the club presented a skit that parodied the British suffragettes, entitled "The Militant Husbandette."  A booklet containing photographs and text from the performance is included in the special events and celebrations sub-series.  The club's twentieth (1917) through the seventy-fifth (1971) anniversaries are represented by various speeches, skits, newspaper clippings, and papers.  Program yearbooks contain lists of the club's officers, members, and papers presented.


            Photographs (1937, 1980) consist of two group photos from 1937 showing members wearing clothing from the early 1800s and a 1980 photograph.


            The Projects series contains a recipe box and cards dating from 1909 and the Proteus Club cookbook from 1900.  Both of these were used as fund raisers.

Box no.   Description

Box 1

Administrative files

Certificates and awards, 1951 and undated

Constitution, by-laws and articles of incorporation

Original constitution, 1899

1906(?)-1977 and undated

Correspondence (1 folder)

General, 1915-1942 (scattered) [includes one letter from Woman's Peace Party (1915) and one letter from Woman's Section of the Navy League of The United States (1915)]

Anniversary letters, 1916, 1947, 1971 and undated

“Des Moines’ Proteus Club:  A Celebration of the First One Hundred Years--1896-1996”, 1996

Financial report and statement, 1943, 1947


Roberts Rules Of Order, 1915

The Twentieth Century Clubwoman, 1952

History (1896-1993), 1993

Insurance policy, 1905-1906, 1937 [includes partial list of paintings insured]

Lists of presidents (1896-1990)


October 17, 1897 - September 29, 1902

September 30, 1902 - May 8, 1911


Box 2









Box 3


Chronology of minutes, 1896-1956

Proteus relationships, 1996



Papers presented at meetings [see appended list for titles and authors]

1900-1940 (scattered)


Papers presented at meetings








Box 4








Special events and celebrations

"The Militant Husbandette", 1913

Twentieth anniversary, 1917

Thirtieth anniversary, 1927

Fortieth anniversary, 1937

Fiftieth anniversary, 1946

Sixtieth anniversary, 1956


Box 5

Seventy-fifth anniversary, 1971

Dinner program/invitation, 1900, 1901

Eulogies, 1966, 1980

Program yearbooks








Photographs, 1937, 1980


Box 6


Recipe Box with cards, 1909

Proteus Club Cook Book, 1900

Wood block

Chronological list of papers presented


1900-1940 (scattered)

Nollen, Hanna T. "A Master-Poet And His Master-Piece" [Virgil]

Nollen, Hanna T. "Please Pass The Moon"

Nollen, Hanna T. "Semantics"


"English=The Universal"


Bragg, Mrs. James O. "Duveen"

Nollen, Hanna T. "Whither-Mid-Century"

Nollen, Hanna T. "How Civilized Are We?"

Nollen, Hanna T. "Eat And Grow Thin" [the pursuit of happiness]

Bragg, Mrs. James O. "Planning & Zoning"


Bragg, Mrs. James O. "Refugees and Buccaneers" [Bahamas and the West Indes]

Parker, Louise L. "Abigail Adams - 1744-1818 Our Second First Lady"

Wijkman, Ruth Wallace "Are We Shaping Up?"


Hunter, Ellen M. "On The Rocks" [Isabella Bird Bishop]

Levine, Mrs. Arnold "American Humor Today - Or The Lack Of It"

Riley, Mary Ann "Ms Mother"

Jones, Nancy "The Nomads"

O'Reilly, Phoebe "Pro Or Con Of Woman's Lib"

Brammer, M.L. "Golda Meir"

Hunter, Carolyn "Mary Wollstonecraft (Shelley)"

Proctor, Alice "Dear Indira"

Curtis, Marty "I'm Okay, You're Okay: But We're Both Under 50"

Bragg, Mrs. James O. "What Makes The World Go Round" [The family]

Marquardt, Sara "Is Woman Creative?"

Dickinson, Mrs. L. Call "The Animal That Laughs"


Riley, Mrs. Robert "Humanistic Psychology"

Kruidenier, Elizabeth S. "Behavior Modification: Is It The Solution...Or The Problem?"

Fleming, Ann "The Producer Versus The Environmentalist"

Bastian, Mrs. Ralph "Highchair to wheelchair" [American furniture]

Jones, Esther "How The Colonists Grow Their Food"

Wallace, Helen J. "Constitutional Labor Pains"

Weitz, Sally "The Founding Fathers"

Marquardt, Sara C. "Reflections Of Cycles"

Shiffler, LuVern "Counterfeiting"

Blackburn, Helen Steadman "Evolution of the Declaration of INTERdependence"

Haines, Betty "The Presidents And The White House"

Brenton, Mrs. W. Harold "Cheers"

Kruidenier, Mrs. David "Why I am an Independent"

Wilson, Mrs. George "Why I am a Republican"

Weitz, Emily "Our Monumental Sculpture" [Earth]

Dickinson, Betty "From the King's English to Current Jargon"


Bragg, Mrs. James "The Persian - Arabian Gulf; Today's Black Gold - Tommorow's Enigma"

Mills, Clara "The Future Of Optimism"

O'Reilly, Phoebe "Is There A Future To Growing Old?"

Hein, Peggy "A Turn To The Right"

Kruidenier, Liz "A Sharp Medicine"  [The death penalty]

Brenton, Mrs. Robert C. "Healing, Mind Over Matter?"

Wijkman, Mrs. Per "Proteus Past" [filed in box 1 with: History, (1896-1993)]


Wilson, Genie "Railroading"

Bucksbaum, Kay "The Press-Freedom For And Freedom From?"

Blackburn, Helen Steadman "Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet"

Shiffler, LuVern "Tasty?" [Etiquette]

Phillips, Mrs. T. Ward "Medicine Discovers Man"

Michel, Shirley "Peripatetic Parenting"

Riley, Mary Ann "The Quality Of Life"

Riley, Mary Ann "Quality Of Art"

Bastian, Margaret Ann "Re-Industrialization - "An Economic Challenge"

Mills, Claire "Capability Equals Quality"


Marquardt, Sara "Bringing Up Quality"

Hunter, Ellen "A Volunteer Looks at Voluntarism"

Curtis, Mrs. Hugh E. "Quality Leisure"

Bragg, Janna "Clans, Conquests, Colonies and Coups" [South America]

Furbush, Mrs. Fran "The Mother Lode"

Dickinson, Betty "Methuselah Did - Can We?" [Aging]

Hunter, Carolyn "Russian Rebus"

Proctor, Mrs. William "Modern Humor II"

O'Reilly, Mrs. Joseph "One Woman Can Make A Difference"

"Re-Industrialization - An Economic Challenge"


Murphy, Mrs. Ray "Diana In Adidas"

Michel, Mrs. Raymond "Clay: Tea and Chicken Soup"

Riley, Mary Ann "...And Ladies of the Club"

Wilson, Genie "A Genealogical Journey"

Bucksbaum, Kay "Anyone For Adventure"

Dorner, Vernell H. "Addictive Trips"

Levine, Caroline "Journey Beyond War"

Baldwin, Pat "To Hell And Back" [Dante]

Bloodgood, Jeanne "Journey Through Culture" [Egypt]

Phillips, Helen "Witchcraft"

Marquardt, Sara "When Is Cow Not A Cow?" [Symbolism]

Pearsall, Virginia "Reaching Out In New Ways" [Technology]

Worthen, Amy Namowitz "Drawing Near" [Visual arts]


Pearsall, Virginia "Memory"

Blackburn, Helen Steadman "The Unsettling Dream" [Immigration]

Harmon, Muffy "Scruples"

Fleming, Ann "Iowa Wetlands"

Harper, Mary "Not noing how to reed gud" [Literacy]

Bragg, Janna "Can Man Reverse His Folly?" [The environment]

Kenworthy, Ann "For God's Sake-Laugh!"

Mills, Clare "Nonsense and Whimsey"

Fleming, Allison "Juvenile Justice"

Furbush, Bo "Disposing Of Waste"


Brown, Sibylla "TOWARD 2014"

Proctor, Alice "Forgetting to Remember"

Worthen, Amy "Annual Meeting and Discussion: Approaching The Millennium"

Riley, Kay "New Age Thinking: Scientific Discoveries That Have Affected It or Rethinking Our Thinking"

Riley, Mary Ann "Passion And Pretense"

Murphy, June "Your Board Of Regents"

Brenton, Babette "Women Behind The Veil: Life Within The Hidden World Of Islam Or Purdah"


Michel, Shirley "The Mediterranean Sea: A Sailor's Log"Blackburn, Helen "Searching For Solutions: The World Wide Problem Of Illegal Drugs"

Bloodgood, Jean "An American Legacy" [Native Americans]

Archer, Jean "Wallace's Farmer"

Phillips, Helen "Our Indian Heritage"

Milligan, Judy "A Courage Of Place" [Iowa]


Bucksbaum, Kay "Ripe Times" [Societal change]

Wilson, Genie "What Makes Us Tick?"

Harmon, Muffy "Creative Thinking, Bitte"

Pearsall, Virginia B. "The Gorbachev Revolution"

McReynolds, Helen "The Family Disease" [Drug addiction]


"Modern Trends In Education"

"The Middletown Spirit"

"The Origin Of The English Drama"

"The Persians At Our Gates"

"On Japan & China"

"Adventures In Pictography"