The Wagner Family papers contain materials from the lives of two sisters and one sister-in-law.
Alice Nicolet Wagner was a poet and a farm wife. She was born January 4, 1899 in Danver, Illinois to Jules and Emma Nicolet. Her parents immigrated to the United States in 1896 and moved around a great deal until settling in Thornton, Iowa in 1919. She married Leon Wagner in 1926 and had two sons. The family made their living on a farm outside of Thornton, Iowa, where she continued to live with her son after her husband's death in 1966. She began writing poetry in 1970. Her sight became very poor due to cataracts late in life and this prevented her from continuing to write poetry. She passed away in 1994.
Grace Wagner Patten was born to George and Minnie Wagner in Thornton, Iowa, in 1888. She was the oldest of twelve children, nine of whom survived to adulthood. Grace Wagner attended Thornton High School. In 1909, she began attending St. Mary's School of Nursing and working at Rochester State Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. Wagner married Roscoe Grant Patten in 1913. They raised five children in Mason City, Iowa: Robert, Howard, June, Walter, and Arcola. Both Robert and Howard Patten served in the military during World War II. During the 1930s, Grace Patten worked as a midwife and nurse in Thornton, Swaledale, and Clear Lake, Iowa, often with Dr. James Kennedy. She worked for three dollars a day, and kept records of every baby she delivered. She also assisted on house calls to ill adults. She passed away in 1959.
Eva Elizabeth Wagner, Grace's sister, attended Memorial University in Mason City and graduated in 1908. She went on to graduate from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in Latin in 1912. After teaching for a few years in Iowa, she moved to Colorado and San Francisco, where she lived until her death in 1963.