GLADYS TALCOTT RIFE (1914-2002)


PAPERS, 1920-2002

1.25 linear feet







The »papers (donor no. 387) were donated by Gladys Talcott Rife in 1996 and succeeding years. »


The »papers are open for research.


»Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.


In box 3.


Four audiocassettes shelved in audiocassette collection  (AC 417-AC420)


Mary Sackett in1995 and Jessica Miller in 1998.


Robert Jett in 1996, Lesleyann Christiansen in 2000, and Doris Malkmus in 2001. [RifeGladys.doc]




Gladys Talcott Rife, a farm wife, teacher, newspaper columnist, museum owner and curator, was born on September 8, 1914 to Carrie and Myron Talcott on a farm near Maynard in Fayette County.  Talcott graduated from Randalia High School and received her B.A. at Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) in 1934, majoring in English, with minors in history and speech.  From 1934 to 1940 Talcott taught high school English and speech and directed theater programs in schools in Van Cleve, Lone Tree, and Sumner.


In 1940, Gladys Talcott interrupted her teaching career to marry Wayne Rife.  She spent the next years as a farm wife and the mother of five children.  While doing this, Rife began to write a weekly newspaper column, in 1948 for the Lone Tree Reporter, and in 1951 for the Iowa City Press Citizen.  The Press Citizen column ran for ten years.


In 1955, Rife resumed teaching, this time in Nichols, Iowa.  Three years later Wayne and Gladys Rife moved to Mt. Vernon where Rife taught at Mt. Vernon Community High School for twenty-one years.  In 1966, Rife received an M.A. in English with an emphasis on Modern American and British Literature from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa).  After receiving her M.A., Rife did some adjunct teaching at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon. 


Wayne Rife died in 1975 and four years later, Gladys Rife retired from teaching to intern at the University of Iowa's Museum of Natural History as an archivist and research assistant.  In 1965, Gladys and Wayne Rife had purchased the old Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad depot in Fayette County. Between 1980 and 1989, Rife supervised construction and furnishing of The Depot Museum, a private museum of which she was owner, curator, and director. 


Once again, Rife resumed her education, entering the Ph.D. program in American Studies at the University of Iowa.  In 1988, at the age of seventy-three, she completed her dissertation, “Iowa Rural Women Columnists, Especially of the Fifties: Cultural and Historical Import in a Comparative Context,” earning a doctorate in American Studies with a minor in Women's Studies. 


Gladys Talcott Rife died after a short illness on February 11, 2002.



Scope and Content Note


            The Gladys Talcott Rife papers measure 1.25 linear feet and date from 1920 to 1995.  The papers are arranged in six series: Biographical; Columns; Education; Dissertation Research; Professional Activities; and Photographs. 


The Biographical series contains newspaper clippings, educational records, a resume of the various experiences and accomplishments of Gladys Talcott Rife, and her personal memoir.


            The Columns consist of newspaper columns written by Rife for various farm magazines,the Lone Tree Reporter, and the Iowa City Press Citizen between 1948 and 1961.  Most have been photocopied onto acid-free paper.


The Education series includes student records and papers Rife wrote while a graduate student at the University of Iowa.


            The Dissertation Research series mainly consists of research files on newspaper columnists Rife studied for her dissertation.  Folders about individual columnists may contain newspaper columns as well as correspondence with Rife. 


            The Professional Activities series contains information about her activities with The Depot Museum, and correspondence and newspaper clippings involving her teaching career.  This series also contains a book review and newsletter that Rife wrote.


            The Photographs are of Gladys Talcott Rife and her family.



Related Collections


Carrie Talcott papers

            Gladys Talcott Rife’s mother


Margaret Talcott Boedecker papers

            Gladys Talcott Rife’s sister


Iowa Press Women Inc. papers

            The Iowa Press Inc. contains information about women columnists of Iowa.


Papers of columnists included in the Gladys Rife dissertation include:

Wilma Belden Collins

Grace Jones

Miriam Baker Nye

Elizabeth Wherry


Printed Works Collection

Gladys Talcott Rife’s dissertation, “Iowa Rural Women Columnists, Especially of the Fifties:  Cultural and Historical Import in a Comparative Context,” May 1998

Box no.   Description

Box 1


Newspaper clippings, 1951 [includes negative], 1984, 1988 and undated

Personal, 1976 and undated

Resume, undated

Iowa State Teachers College, student record, 1931

Memoir, undated

Obituary, 2002



“Country Line,” Lone Tree Reporter

       Typescript, 1948

       1948-1953 (6 folders)

Guest columns for Wallace’s Farmer and Iowa Homestead, 1950-1954

“Rural Reflections,” Iowa City Press Citizen

1951-1954 (8 folders)

“Random Reflections,” Iowa City Press Citizen

1959-1961 (3 folders)

Typescript newspaper columns, 1948-1951 and undated



Box 2


Delta Kappa Gamma International Scholarship Form, 1984

Iowa State Teacher College, Student Record, 1931

Letter from University of Iowa Graduate College, 1983

University of Iowa Student Registration, 1984

Course notes, American studies, 1979

Course notes, University of Iowa Natural History Museum, 1982


“Museums, Let Them Be Temples,” 1979

“A Comparative Study of Selected Museums in Mexico and the Midwest,” 1981

            Internship at the University of Iowa Natural History Museum, 1980

            “Vernacular Architecture: The Silo in Eastern Iowa”


Dissertation Research

Correspondence, 1984-1988

How to Write Columns, Undated

Iowa Press Women Inc., 1985 and undated

Newspaper clippings, 1981-1987 and undated

Newspaper columnists

List of newspapers with women columnists, Undated

Banger, Linda, 1982-1986

Collins, Wilma, 1947-1985

Engstrom, Doris, 1983-1986

Faber, Inez, 1983 and undated

Fisher, Oneita, 1957-1962, 1984

Gallo, Marilyn, 1958-1973 and undated

Gitch, Elaine, 1986

Gunsolus, Victoria, 1985 and undated

Herndon, Lucia, 1983-1984

Hoidahl, Florence, 1951-1962, 1984

Interview of Florence Hoidahl by Gladys Rife [shelved in

                                                      audiocassette collection:AC418-AC419], 1985

Transcripts, 1985

Ink, Elizabeth, 1964

Jones, Grace, undated

Montet, Linda, 1985

Box 3

Nye, Miriam Baker, 1954-1984

O'Brien, Fran, 1960-1984 and undated

Pelton, Beulah, 1984

Richardson, Kathleen, 1983, 1985

Robinson, Mary Louise, 1985

Ross, Mary, 1947-1952

Shelley, Jack

   Hometown News radio transcripts, 1972-1983

   Correspondence, 1985

   Interview by Gladys Rife, 1985 [shelved in audiocassette collection: AC 420]

Sigsbee, Esther Grace, 1956, 1967, 1984

Swartz, Emily, 1966-1987

Thompson, Dorothy, 1955

Wallace, Karen, 1984-1985

Wherry, Elizabeth, 1939

Assorted speech materials, 1951, 1957 and undated

Notebook, 1984


Jottings, Undated




Rough Drafts

Chapter I

Chapter IV

Chapter V

                                         Prospectus, 1984

AAUW Dissertation Talk [shelved in audiocassette collection:

                            AC417], 1988


Professional Activities

Railroad Depot

Correspondence, 1986-1987 and undated

Newspaper clippings, undated

Linn County Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, 1992, 1995


Book Review of Margaret DiPaul’s The Chalkdust Report, 1993

Linn County Historic Preservation Newsletter, 1994


Personal correspondence, 1977-1979 and undated

Mt. Vernon Community High School Commencement

                                                 Program, 1979

Newspaper clippings, 1967 and undated

Teacher of the Year Nomination, 1977

Correspondence, 1953, 1988


Photographs, 1934, 1965-1967 and undated