Iowa Women's Archives
Mary Woodbury Lacy was born in rural New York in 1824. She married Dr. Samuel Lacy in 1846 and came to Lima, Iowa, in 1855 with four children, Burritt, Benjamin, Charles, and Frank. A daughter, Louisa, was born in Lima in 1859. In 1865, Mary Woodbury Lacy left her husband and returned to New York with the three youngest children. There she studied medicine at the New York Medical College for Women and practiced medicine in the Ithaca, New York, area for twenty years. In poor health, she moved to Iowa to live with her son Benjamin in 1886 and died there in 1897.
In Dubuque, Benjamin Lacy had joined the law firm of Robinson and Adams and married May Robinson, oldest daughter of Frank and Laura Goddard Robinson. Laura Robinson was an early member of the Dubuque Ladies’ Literary Association (DLLA), one of the earliest women’s clubs in the United States. According to historian Louise Noun in Strong-Minded Women, officers of the DLLA formed the Northeastern Iowa Suffrage Association in 1869; it was the first suffrage association in Iowa. Frank and Laura Robinson had three children, May, Belle and Grace. Belle Robinson kept a diary from 1875 to 1877 and 1878-1879 when she was twelve to sixteen years of age. Her health was never strong and she died in 1887. Her mother died two years later. Benjamin and May Lacy had six children, Frank, Burritt, Laura, Robert, Clive and Margaret. Grace Robinson married Benjamin Lacy’s first cousin, Westel Willoughby, and had two children, Robinson and Laura.
Scope and Content Note
The Robinson-Lacy Family papers date from 1852-2001 and measure ten linear inches. The collection includes five series: Family History, Diaries, Correspondence, Photographs and Dubuque Ladies’ Literary Association Scrapbook.
The Woodbury and Lacy Family History series (1880s-2001) includes a variety of genealogical papers, photographs of the Woodbury and Lacy families, a photocopy of a letter written by Mary Woodbury Lacy to her grown children, and an excerpt from Benjamin Lacy’s diary that covers his mother’s last illness and death. There are also photocopies of published materials concerning the Iowa frontier and New York medical schools that provide ancillary information about Mary Woodbury Lacy. Photographs of the Robinson home in Dubuque and members of the DLLA were photocopied from a history of Dubuque County and donated with the original material. Newspaper articles about Laura Robinson’s role in the Northeast Iowa Suffrage Association are also included. A timeline of the Robinson family, obituaries, and newspaper articles complete the series.
The Diaries series (1874-1913) contains the original 1875-1877 diary of Belle Robinson and diaries and account books of Laura G. Robinson from 1882 to 1885. Also included are a photocopy and a typescript of Belle Robinson’s 1875-1877 diary and a photocopy of Belle Robinson’s 1878-1879 diary, for which the original has been lost. The photocopies and typescript have been annotated by the donor Margaret Zimansky, a great-granddaughter of Laura Robinson. Two of May Robinson Lacy’s account books complete the series.
The Correspondence series (1890-1916) mostly consists of letters sent to Frank Robinson Lacy from his mother and aunt. The series from Grace Robinson Willoughby details her life in Washington D.C. and the east coast after she married Westel Willoughby. The series from May Robinson Lacy contains news about the Lacy family’s life in Dubuque while Frank Lacy was attending Exeter Academy and Harvard University. Other scattered letters to and from the Lacy family are included in the series. The Photographs series (1890s) consists of portraits of Spaulding, Robinson and Lacy family members.
The Scrapbook series (1852-1890s) includes the Dubuque Ladies’ Literary Association scrapbook, an unsorted compilation of published verse and undated newspaper clippings regarding the society’s programs and members. Its earliest items refer to residents of Putnam, Ohio in the 1850s and its latest dated items are from the 1890s.
For more information about this collection contact the Iowa Women's Archives.
Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City IA 52242.
Page created April 2007.