PAPERS 1938-2006

6 linear feet



The papers» (donor no. 263) were donated by Dorothy Schramm in 1995.


The »papers are open for research


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


In Box 12


University of Iowa Special Collections; reprocessed by Heather Stecklein, 2001[SchrammDorothy.doc]



            Dorothy Schramm, art collector and political activist, was born in Tilton, New Hampshire, on June 16, 1909. She married James Schramm and made Burlington, Iowa her permanent home. Schramm’s family owned the J.S. Schramm department store in downtown Burlington, which served its community for more than 150 years before it closed in 1987. The Schramms avidly supported and collected African sculpture and post-1940 American and European painting, sculpture, and prints. Dorothy Schramm’s active support of art encompassed Works Progress Administration projects, Grinnell College’s Art Collection, and the Governor’s Art Commission. She was listed in the 1989-1990 Who’s Who in American Art.

            In addition to her interest in the arts, Dorothy Schramm participated in a wide variety of political organizations. She was a founding member of the Burlington League of Women Voters in the late 1930s and authored a nationally recognized handbook, You are Democracy for the organization in 1948.  She actively supported the United Nations, and served as both the state president and national vice president of the American Association for the United Nations. She chaired the first United Nations Day and helped organize activities promoting the United Nations and its issues for over two decades. She spoke in favor of the organization throughout the United States.

            In the 1950s, Schramm participated in a number of activities to combat racism. She and several other Burlington residents sponsored the 1950 Burlington Self-Survey on Human Relations that analyzed the relationships between the races in Burlington, Iowa. Schramm promoted the report through radio programs, speeches, and her work with groups such as the Mayor’s Committee on Civic Unity and the Burlington Commission on Human Rights. She was a member of the Iowa National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served as its vice president in 1953.

            Schramm’s work has earned her a number of awards. She was a 1971 recipient of The University of Iowa’s Distinguished Service Award, and received honorary degrees from Grinnell College and Morningside College. She was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 1986.


Scope and Content Note


            Begin text here:The Dorothy Schramm papers date from »1938 to 2006 and measure six»sisics linear feet.  The »papers »are arranged in seven» series: State Politics, National Politics, National League of Women Voters, Burlington Community Action, United Nations, Fine Arts, and Photographs. This finding aid reflects the reprocessing of the collection in 2001, during which the materials were reorganized into new folders, series, and boxes. A copy of the original finding aid, which shows the earlier arrangement, is available upon request.


The State Politics series (1948-1981) contains materials from Schramm’s work with political organizations in Iowa on the state level. The series contains promotional correspondence, clippings and a copy of the publication Iowa in the World (1968), for which Schramm served as an editor. Iowa in the World demonstrated Iowa’s cultural and economic connection with the rest of the world, including chapters regarding its ethnic heritage and its role in global health, agriculture, and technology.

 The series also includes correspondence and materials from Schramm’s work on various committees in state politics: Iowa Federal Judiciary Selection Committee (1977-1981), Governor’s International Cooperation Year (1965-1966), Iowa Society for Mental Health (1955-1956), and Fair Employment Practices in Iowa (1948-1956). Materials from Iowa Republican Party workshops (1955-1959), including programs, correspondence, and handouts, complete the series.


The National Politics series (1945-1957) is comprised of materials from Schramm’s work in national politics. The series includes correspondence and materials from Schramm’s involvement with Americans United for a World Organization (1945-1946), an early promoter of the United Nations. In addition, the series contains correspondence, newsletters, programs, transcripts, and meeting minutes for National Republican Workshops from 1945-1956. The last two folders of the series consist of clippings, correspondence, and newsletters from Schramm’s committee work on the Food for Freedom campaign (1945) and the Committee for National Trade Policy (1954).


The National League of Women Voters series (1943-1955) includes information on Schramm’s work with the Burlington, Iowa chapter of this organization, for which she was a founding member. In 1947, Schramm authored a pamphlet for the League of Women Voters of Iowa entitled, You are Democracy, that garnered national attention. The series includes the original publication and its later adaptations for the League of Women Voters in Des Moines and Dubuque (1947-1948). In addition, it contains Schramm’s research notes, correspondence, and publicity clippings including an article in the Christian Science Monitor.  The remainder of the series consists of Schramm’s collection of publications from the National League of Women Voters (1943-1944) and her personal collection of material on political parties (1940-1955).


            The Burlington Community Action series consists of materials from Schramm’s work for various community organizations in Burlington, Iowa. Schramm helped organize Burlington’s Atomic Energy Week in 1947. The series contains publicity clippings, a radio program transcript, and correspondence including a letter of commendation from Albert Einstein.

Schramm also participated in projects for the advancement of civil rights in Burlington. She and other committee members organized a landmark survey on race relations in Burlington in 1950. The series includes two copies of the final report, an appendix to the report, newspaper clippings (1950-1953), a radio program, and Schramm’s speech to the New York Cosmopolitan Club for the United Negro College Fund (1953). The series also contains Schramm’s collection of materials on civil rights and race (1957-1964), as well as materials from her service as a member of the Mayor’s Committee on Civic Unity (1955) and the Burlington Commission on Human Rights (1964-1968).


The United Nations series (1955-1997) details Schramm’s involvement with the United Nations. It is the largest series in the collection and is divided into three sub-series: Burlington UN activities; American Association for the UN, Iowa Branch; and Governor’s UN committee.

The Burlington UN activities sub-series concerns Schramm’s involvement in United Nations work in Burlington, Iowa. In 1955, Schramm organized a UN day for Burlington that included a visit from Eleanor Roosevelt. Newspaper clippings and correspondence regarding this event, including Mrs. Roosevelt’s nationally syndicated column, “My Day” mentioning her visit to Burlington and meeting with Dorothy Schramm are contained in this subseries. The subseries also includes materials from subsequent UN days in Burlington (1956-1965), the Burlington Mayor’s Committee for the United Nations (1958), and the Burlington Walk for Development (1969-1970). Schramm received a large amount of correspondence regarding her UN work in Burlington, and the sub-series contains correspondence from 1966-1997 including letters from George Bush and Henry Kissinger.

The American Association for the United Nations and its Iowa Branch sub-series documents Schramm’s activities with this group. The national organization’s name changed from the American Association for the United Nations (1943-1964) to its current name, The United Nations Association of the United States, Inc. in 1964. Correspondingly, the Iowa branch changed from the National Association for the United Nations, Iowa Branch to the United Nations Association of Iowa the same year. The organization actively educates the public about the United Nations and promotes its activities in chapters throughout the United States.

The subseries contains publicity materials (1955-1965), UN anniversary programs (1965-1997), correspondence with Senator Jack Miller (1956), newspaper clippings (1966-1977), membership campaign materials (1954-1963), finance drive materials (1958-1968), annual meeting materials (1955-1968), and materials from national biennial conventions (1960, 1964) and annual conferences (1962, 1964). In addition, it includes research materials and drafts of speeches Schramm delivered throughout the United States to promote the organization (1957-1962). It also contains materials from numerous special topics: the proposed Bricker Amendment to the Constitution (1955-1957), a visit by British UN delegate Lord Caradon (1969), an Iowa UN banner competition (1970), International Women’s Year (1975), the Panama Canal (1978), and conventional weapons issues (1975-1978). The conventional weapons topic includes correspondence between Schramm and politicians including Tom Harkin, Jim Leach, Chuck Grassley, Dick Clark, and Harold E. Hughes.

The Governor’s UN Committee (1954-1968) sub-series completes the United Nations series of the Schramm papers. This collection contains publicity and materials from both the Iowa UN Day it organized in 1956 and its national counterpart. In addition, it contains meeting materials, publications, and correspondence from the Governor’s UN committee from 1954 to 1968.


The Fine Arts series (1938-1969) documents Dorothy Schramm’s activities in collecting and supporting art. The series includes a booklet entitled Art of the 20th Century Collected by James and Dorothy Schramm that features photographs and descriptions of art that the Schramms collected. In addition, the series contains correspondence and materials from Schramm’s work on the Governor’s Art Commission (1962-1963) and the Grinnell College Board of Overseers (1962-1964). This series also contains information that Dorothy Schramm collected regarding various Works Progress Administration art projects (1938-1969).


The Photographs series (1937-1968) consists of photographs removed from other series; each photograph was replaced in its respective folder with a photocopy. The series contains photographs of UN activities including Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to Burlington, Iowa (1955), the Burlington Walk for Development (1969-1970), and British UN delegate Lord Caradon (1969). In addition, it includes a photograph from Burlington Atomic Energy Week (1947), photographs of the mural “Social History of Des Moines”, painted by Donald Jones (1941), and photographs for Iowa in the World that originally appeared in Look magazine. The series also contains negatives from Iowa in the World and American Association for the United Nations activities.


Related Collections


League of Women Voters of Iowa       

Dorothy Schramm was an active member of the League in the 1940s and 1950s, and its meeting minutes document her participation in the group.Begin text here:»


Box no.           Description


Box 1

Biographical information, 1986-2006

State politics

Iowa in the World (1968)

Iowa in the World promotion, (2 folders)

Fair Employment Practices in Iowa, 1948-1956

Iowa Federal Judiciary Selection Commission

Correspondence, 1977-1981 (including letters from John Culver)

Selection committee, 1977

Governor’s International Cooperation Year, 1965-1966 (includes letter

from David Stanley)

Iowa Society for Mental Health and the Iowa Association for Mental

Health, 1955-1956

Iowa Republican Workshop




Box 2

Discussion material


National politics

Americans United for a World Organization, Inc., 1945-1946 (2


National Council of Republican workshops

Publications, 1950-1956

Workshop materials, 1956-1957

Food for Freedom campaign, 1945

Committee for a National Trade Policy, 1954 (2 folders)


Box 3

National League of Women Voters

Publications, 1943-1944

Material on political parties, 1946-1955

“You are Democracy” handbook, 1946-1947 (3 folders)


Box 4

Burlington community activism

Burlington Atomic Energy Week, 1947 (includes correspondence

from Albert Einstein)

Burlington Self-Survey on Human Relations

Final report, 1950 (2 copies)

Appendix to final report, 1950

Transcript of radio program, 1950

Speech by Dorothy Schramm at the New York

Cosmopolitan Club for the United Negro College Fund Forum, 1953

Newspaper clippings, 1950-1953 (2 folders)

Civil rights and race relations materials, 1957-1964 

Burlington Mayor’s Committee on Civic Unity, 1955

Burlington Commission on Human Rights




Box 5

                        United Nations (UN)

Burlington UN Day

Clippings and correspondence, 1955

General information



Publicity, 1955

Mayor’s Committee for the UN

General information, 1958

Newspaper clippings, 1958

Burlington UN Activities


Burlington UN Walk for Development, 1969-1970         

American Association for the United Nations, Iowa Branch 

Action materials, 1955-1965

UN Anniversary programs, 1955-1963

Iowa Association for the UN and the Bricker Amendment (2 folders)

Correspondence with Senator Jack Miller, 1965


Box 6

Newspaper clippings, 1966-1969, 1976-1977

International Human Rights Year celebration, 1968 (2 folders)

Lord Caradon’s visit, 1969

Iowa UN banners, 1970

International Women’s Year, 1975

Panama Canal, 1978

Conventional weapons

General information

Correspondence, 1975-1978

Human rights, 1961-1962, 1968


   “The Resolute Member”, undated

   Speeches, untitled and undated

   Research materials, 1957-1962 (2 folders)


Box 7

Membership campaign                                                        







Finance drives





Box 8                                                    




Annual meetings, 1955-1968 (11 folders)


Box 9                          

American Association for the United Nations

Publicity 1959

2nd Biennial Convention 1960

12th Annual Conference of National Organizations (1962)

4th Biennial Convention (1964)

14th Annual Conference of National Organizations (1964)

Governor’s UN Committee  (1954-1956)




1957 (3 folders)


Box 10                                                


1958 (3 folders)

1959 (2 folders)




Box 11



1967-1968 (2 folders)

United Nations Day observance, 1956 (3 folders)

Iowa UN Day, 1956 (2 folders)                    

Newspaper clippings, 1958

Finances, 1959


Fine Arts

Art of the 20th Century collected by James and Dorothy Schramm, 1961

Governor’s Art Commission, 1962-1963


Box 12

Grinnell College Board of Overseers, 1962-1964

Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project, 1938-1969

Works Progress Administration Proposal for an American art show boat

Harry Donald James, “A Social History of Des Moines” mural, Des Moines Public Library, 1937-1941

Community Art Center in Burlington proposal, 1936



United Nations

UN tree planted by boy scouts, Wapello (3 photos)

UN activities photographs, misc., 1955 (5 photos)

Burlington UN day color photos (3 photos)

J.S. Schramm Company UN window display (2 photos)

Burlington UN Walk for development promotional photo (1969 or 1970)

Burlington UN day, 1955, Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit (6 photos)

Women tasting foreign recipes, 1956

 “Social History of Des Moines” mural by Harry Donald Jones (8 photos)           

Works Progress Administration Art display (2 photos)

Iowa in the World

Look Magazine photographs of Paul Engel and Cho Sung-yen (2 photos)

Photograph of Iowa Governor Herschel Loveless and Paul Hoffman

Photographs of Lord Caradon (2 photos)

Burlington Atomic Energy Week, 1947 (1 photo)

Unidentified photographs

Crowd of women listening to lecture (circa 1950s)

Street scene (2 photos)


Positive of Fatima Shah in front of Japanese Bell near Iowa State Capitol (1 frame)         

Negatives of a group reviewing UN materials (12 frames)