Iowa Women's Archives
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa



PAPERS, 1890s-1943
13 linear inches


Iowa Women's Archives
100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Phone: 319-335-5068
Fax: 319-335-5900
E-mail the Iowa Women's Archives

Please cite materials from this collection as follows:
Jennifer Riggs Cosson Papers, Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.


Collection Overview

The papers (donor no. 631) were donated by George Cosson in 1999 and ensuing years.
The papers are open for research.
Copyright held by the donor has not been transferred to The University of Iowa.
Processed by:
Andrea Rasmussen, 2001; Lisa Mott, 2004. [CossonJennifer.doc]


Jennifer Riggs was born in Lamoni, Iowa. She attended Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa and graduated in 1899 with a bachelor’s degree in education. Riggs taught school in Indianola until December 1904, when she married George Cosson and moved to Audubon, Iowa where he established a legal practice. In 1909 George Cosson was elected to the Iowa Senate, and from 1911 to 1917 he held the office of Attorney General of the State of Iowa. Jennifer Cosson became very active in politics and the community, serving on the Des Moines Parks Board, the Simpson College Board, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) committee, P.E.O., and the Ladies Legislative League. In 1925 Cosson was inducted into Epsilon Sigma Sorority as an alumna and faculty member of Simpson College. Cosson was a talented and sought-after speaker who was known to infuse humor and her knowledge of many subjects into her speeches. She also wrote many speeches for her husband in his various political endeavors. Cosson was a vocal suffragist, writing and delivering speeches on the value of women’s rights, and participating in debates. Traveling to California to visit her new granddaughter in February 1943, Cosson contracted pneumonia on the train trip and died a week after arriving at her son’s home.

Scope and Content Note

The Jennifer Riggs Cosson papers date from the 1890s to 1943 and measure 13 linear inches. The papers are arranged in six series: BIOGRAPHICAL, CORRESPONDENCE, ESSAYS, REVIEWS, SIMPSON COLLEGE and SPEECHES.

The BIOGRAPHICAL series (1902-1943) consists of Bible verses Cosson collected, newspaper clippings, poems, invitations, writings, programs for women’s clubs, World War I activities and the travel log Cosson kept when traveling to Europe with her family in 1914. The BIOGRAPHICAL series also contains the condolence cards and letters the Cosson family received after Jennifer Cosson’s unexpected death in 1943. The condolence letters are testimonies to the character and influence of Cosson on her friends and acquaintances.

The CORRESPONDENCE series primarily consists of the courtship letters (July 1904 - December 1904) exchanged between Jennifer Riggs, living in Indianola at the time, and George Cosson, living in Audubon, before their wedding in December 1904. There is also some general correspondence pertaining to Jennifer Riggs Cosson’s association with the Des Moines’ Parks Board.

The ESSAYS series (undated) contains essays Jennifer Cosson wrote throughout her adult life on a variety of topics, such as women’s rights, philosophy, and religion.

The REVIEWS series (undated) consists of magazine and book reviews by Jennifer Cosson. The reviews cover books and magazine articles written mostly by women, and cover such topics as sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, and comparisons between women of different eras.

The SIMPSON COLLEGE series (1894-1902 and undated) contains poems, essays, book reviews and speeches Jennifer Riggs wrote while attending Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Many of the essays deal with political themes and women’s issues.

The SPEECHES series (1916, 1937, 1939 and undated) contains speeches Cosson wrote or presented at various events. The majority of the speeches are political and humorous in nature.

Box List

Box 1                          
    Bible verses, undated
Condolences, 1943 (2 folders)
Flower cards from funeral, 1943
Miscellaneous, 1904, 1916-1922, 1939-1943 and undated
Newspaper clippings, 1928-1936 and undated (2 folders)
Travel Log: trip to Europe with family, 1914
    Courtship between Jennie Riggs and George Cosson          
      July 1904
August 1904
September 1904
October 1904 (2 folders)
November 1904 (2 folders)
December 1904 (2 folders)
    General, 1931 and 1941                  
Box 2                          
    Miscellaneous, undated (2 folders)              
      The Gentle Art of Book-reviewing
Napoleon’s Greatness
The Persuasive Power of the Ideal
Renan’s Perforation on Jesus
    Women’s rights, undated              
      In and About Hull House
Mary Lyon
Women and Progress
    Book reviews (4 folders)              
      Jane Addams – James Weber Linn
North to the Orient – Anne Lindbergh
Provincial Lady in America – Delafield
Grandma Called it Carnal
Wickford Point
They Stooped to Folly
The Summing Up – Somerset Maughm
Listen to the Wind – Anne Lindbergh
White Cliffs of England
Books Old and New – (P.E.O.)
The Edwardians – Sacville West
Saga of American Society – Dixon Wechter
Bridal Wreath – Sigrid Undset
Mistress of Husaby – Sigrid Undset
The Cross – Sigrid Undset
    Magazine article reviews (1 folder)              
      “Crown Prince of GOP,” American Magazine
“Combating Early syphilis,” Reader’s Digest
“Syphilis: Mrs. Grundy’s Disease,” American Mercury
“How to Make Flying Safe,” American Mercury
“Hollywood Takes Over Theater,” Scribner’s
“The Modern House,” Atlantic
“The Biggest Thing on Earth,” Harper’s
“World’s Most Modern Home,” American Magazine
  Simpson College                  
    Book reviews, 1898 and undated              
      Indian Summer – Howell
The Choir Invisible
King Author of Briton
    Essays, 1895                  
      The Development of the Papal Power
The Evils and Benefits of the French Revolution
The Ways of the Stern
    Essays, 1896                  
      The Greatest Need of the Present Age
Is There More Happiness in Pursuit than in Possession?
    Essays, 1898                  
China: Her Past, Present, and Probable Future
    Essays, 1899                  
      Elizabeth Barrett Browning          
    Essays, 1902                  
      What Not to Read
    Essays, language undated                  
      The History of the English Language
    Essays, miscellaneous, undated                  
      Biography of Someone I Know
Character Sketch
A Thrilling Adventure
    Essays, philosophy, undated                  
Our Thought Vehicle
See Rather than Feel Not an Artist
    Essays, political and national issues, undated          
      Aid for Nebraska
Are the Inventions of Today Beneficial to Us as a Nation?
The Debt of the 19 th Century
Resolved: That War has Caused More Misery than…
Shall We Annex More Territory to the U.S.?
Should Cuba be Annexed to the U.S.?
Work in the South
    Essays, religion, undated                  
      Is Missionary Interest on the Wane?
Man’s Knowledge
Now the Lord Said Unto Abraham, Get Out…
They are Like Children Sitting in a Marketplace…
Box 3                          
    Essays, untitled and undated (2 folders)            
      Simpson College and She Would Be a Mason
      The American Girl of Today, undated
Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), 1898
    Iowa, 1916 and undated              
      History and Travel
History of Iowa
Reminiscences – Ringgold County Association
    Marriage, undated                  
      Brides I Have Met
When We All Tee Off
    Political, 1937, 1939 and undated (2 folders)            
      Des Moines Simpson Alumni
Farewell Meeting – Ladies Legislative League
His Absent Mind
Impromptu Remarks
Pioneer Program – Ladies Legislative League
The Politician’s Wife
Resolved: That the Modern Mother is Superior to the Old-fashioned Mother
Why Am I a Republican?
    Women’s rights                  
      Parlor Men Tary Law
Resolved: That Women Should Have the Right to Equal Suffrage with Men
Why Women Should Ask For the Ballot
YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association)


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