Iowa Women's Archives
LOLA MOELLER ZOOK (1909-1999)
Lola Dorothy Moeller was born September 6, 1909 on a farm near Everly, Iowa. Her parents were Maggie Zentner Moeller and George Walter Moeller. She had one older brother, Leslie George Moeller. As a child Lola Moeller was active in Girl Reserves and Camp Fire Girls.
Moeller graduated from Spencer High School in 1926. She attended Grinnell College from 1926 to 1927, and the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in Iowa City, Iowa from 1927 to 1930 where she was only the second woman to serve as managing editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Iowan, and earned a B.A. in journalism. Following graduation, Moeller worked at the Tama News Herald in Tama, Iowa before joining the staff on the Coconino Sun in Flagstaff, Arizona where her future husband, Maurice (pronounced Morris) Manford Zook, worked. Lola Moeller married Maurice Zook on August 2, 1932. The couple had no children. The Zooks worked together editing, publishing and writing for newspapers for fifteen years in the southwest United States and Alberta, Canada. From 1936 to 1942 they owned the Flagstaff Journal, in Arizona. Maurice Zook joined the American Red Cross and served in the Pacific theater during World War II.
From 1942 to 1946, Lola Zook worked as the news editor for the Madison Star-Times in Madison, Nebraska. In December 1946, Lola Zook joined her husband Maurice Zook, who was stationed in Japan as an American Red Cross director, and spent the following year “vacationing” as an American Red Cross wife and occasional writer. From 1948 to 1951, Lola Zook worked for the Chief of Editorial and Production Division, Natural Resources Section, GHQ, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, Tokyo. She was responsible for publishing a weekly staff magazine. In addition she edited and managed the production of 150 technical reports, and edited a two-volume book. For her work in Japan, Zook received the Department of the Army Award for Meritorious Civilian Service. The Zooks returned to the United States in 1951.
In 1952, the Zooks moved to Washington, D.C. Perusing the classified ads in the newspaper, Lola Zook found a position for a technical writer and editor listed under the heading “male help wanted.” Ignoring the obvious gender bias, she applied for the job and became managing editor and chief of the editorial and production office for the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), a newly formed research firm with contracts to do research for the United States Army. Zook worked at HumRRO from 1952 until 1999, semi-retiring in 1976 but continuing as a publications consultant and editor. Zook also worked for other research firms, and for Editorial Experts (now EEI Communications) during the first dozen years of their existence.
Throughout her life Zook joined various organizations as a scholar, woman and technical writer and editor. During her university days, Zook belonged to Phi Beta Kappa, Theta Sigma Phi, Delta Zeta and Mortar Board. She was a member of P.E.O., the Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW). In 1956, Zook joined the Association of Technical Writers and Editors (now the Society for Technical Communication – STC). Zook presented papers at STC conventions, wrote for their journal, and was editor of the first STC anthology on technical editing, published in 1975. She also served on the Society’s Scholarship Committee for many years. In 1981, Zook became an Associate Fellow and in 1984 she became a Fellow of the Society.
Maurice Zook died in 1981. Lola Moeller Zook died July 30, 1999.
Scope and Content Note
The Lola Moeller Zook papers date from 1909 to 2004 and measure 8.75 linear feet. The papers are arranged in ten series: Biography, Correspondence, Journalism, Occupied Japan, Human Resources Research Organization, Society for Technical Communication, Women’s Clubs, Scrapbooks, Photographs and Artifacts. The Biography series consists of Lola Zook’s obituary; articles written about Zook; a diary she kept from 1925 to 1929; her baptismal book; legal documents such as copies of her birth certificate, marriage certificate and a passport issued in 1951 when she was preparing to leave Japan; several versions of her resume; a notebook containing financial records; various awards Zook received, including her commendation for meritorious civilian service from the United States Army; two notebooks that appear to be filled with story ideas; information about the Scottish terriers the Zooks raised; and original artwork by Zook. There are also papers concerning the deaths of her parents, George W. Moeller in 1932 and Maggie Moeller in 1955, her brother Leslie Moeller’s career, and other family members. This series also contains husband Maurice Zook’s obituary, along with his draft notice. Also included in the series are several papers Zook wrote in college concerning imperialism along with articles Zook saved regarding State University of Iowa figures such as Nile Kinnick and Benjamin Shambaugh. Researchers should see the Scrapbooks series for additional material on her high school and college years, and her wedding.
The Correspondence series spans Lola Zook’s adult life from 1926 until just before her death in 1999. The bulk of the series consists of letters between Zook and her parents from 1926 to 1955. These letters span Zook’s college years, her early career and marriage, and the years she spent in Occupied Japan with her husband Maurice Zook. Zook was unable to return to Iowa from Arizona for her father’s funeral in 1932; thus, there are several letters and telegrams between Zook and her brother Leslie, and sister-in-law Dorothy Moeller concerning their father’s death. This series also contains letters written by Maurice Zook to his wife when he was traveling on business, many versions of the Zook’s self-designed Christmas cards, and numerous letters from Lola Zook’s high school and college friends. From her years in Occupied Japan, there are several notes written by her household staff concerning time off and various problems, along with a series of letters and telegrams written prior to Zook’s departure from the United States revealing both the military and civilian obstacles she had to overcome. There are also several letters Zook wrote when she was seeking employment following her return to the United States in 1952. They include inquiries to the National Geographic Society and the Central Intelligence Agency, and the replies sent by the various firms and organizations who received her letters.
The Journalism series consists of full editions of several of the newspapers Lola Zook wrote for during her career. There are also several columns she wrote while managing editor of the Madison Star-Mail in Nebraska, and those she sent to the paper while she was living in Japan. Also included in the series are articles and clippings Zook saved, many having to do with writing and getting published. World War II clippings include an article on censorship and one on war casualties of the American Red Cross. There is also a humorous booklet titled, “Air Information Sense,” published by the Bureau of Aeronautics.
The Occupied Japan series spans the years Lola Zook lived with her husband Maurice Zook in Japan following World War II. The series includes material regarding their daily lives and the Zooks’ rich social and cultural life, including opera and musical programs, excursion trip brochures, and invitations to dinner and cocktail parties. There are a variety of instructional manuals and Lola Zook’s handwritten notes for learning Japanese. Also included in the series are articles regarding the military tribunal for war crimes: Zook attended some of the sessions and both her passes and her 1998 reflections on the experience are included in the series. There is also a 1996 memoir written by Lorena Martini, who served in Japan and was friends with the Zooks during the 1940s. The Natural Resources Section sub-series concerns Lola Zook’s employment with the Army and includes her employment papers, general memos and information regarding the NRS; original artwork by Zook; and sketches of co-workers provided at Zook’s farewell. Also included is a farewell booklet for Colonel Hubert G. Schenck that consists of original cartoons depicting his experiences in Japan.
The Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) series covers many of the projects Zook handled as an editor and consultant during her employment and semi-retirement. Most of the materials consist of billing records and correspondence. Included in the series is the original letter-of-application Zook wrote to HumRRO, with the “male help wanted” advertisement attached to it.
The Society for Technical Communication series covers Zook’s vast array of involvements with the organization. Zook wrote articles for the STC’s various publications, presented papers at local, national and international level conferences, edited and reviewed manuscripts, collaborated with other members, judged writing competitions and served on scholarship and nominating committees. Zook was also the recipient of several STC awards, including those presented by the Washington, D.C. chapter for her work at HumRRO. There is also evidence of Zook’s impact on technical writing through examples of articles where her work is cited.
The Women’s Clubs series contains materials from several of the organizations Zook belonged to in the early decades of her adult life, including awards, correspondence, presentations, programs and newspaper articles. Zook received first place honors in a national competition sponsored by The New York Herald Tribune for her writings on behalf of the Arizona Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. The Delta Zeta items include a script “The Rushee’s Dream,” which is a humorous look at the rushing experience, along with three copies of The Lamp, the official magazine of the sorority. The Nebraska Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs includes a copy of the first newsletter printed with Zook as editor, along with several letters of congratulations.
The Scrapbooks series consists of eight scrapbooks. Three are filled with newspaper columns written by Lola and Maurice Zook during various periods of their journalism careers. A fourth scrapbook is from the couple’s 1932 wedding and contains newspaper clippings, cards and other memorabilia. Zook also kept scrapbooks during her years at Spencer High School, 1922-1926; Grinnell College, 1926-1927; and the State University of Iowa, 1927-1930; and one covering her post-graduation and early marriage, 1931-1936.
The Photographs series consists of several photo albums, including the Zooks’ 1932 wedding album and three albums representing the early years of the Zooks’ marriage. A fifth photo album appears to cover Lola Zook’s high school and early college days, with several photographs of friends and her brother, Leslie. This series also contains loose photographs of Lola Zook, from her infancy to old age, including several photographs of Zook in the baptismal gown found in the Artifacts series. There are photographs of Lola and Maurice Zook throughout their marriage, and many photographs Zook included in letters to her family from Occupied Japan, with lengthy descriptions. Several photographs of Zook taken at various Society for Technical Communication events are also included in the series.
The Artifacts series consists of Lola Zook’s baptismal gown, along with several other white gowns for older children, and her wedding dress. Also included are a charm bracelet, Camp Fire Girl patches and beads, wooden paddle given to Zook on her birthday by Daily Iowan staff, several sorority and club pins, Lola Zook’s wedding band, and two Society for Technical Communication plaques awarded to Zook when she became an associate fellow in 1981 and a fellow in 1984.
The Dorothy and Leslie Moeller papers are housed at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.
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 December 2005.