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Spencer, C. Pauline, 1898 -1985



  • Existence: 1898 - 1985


C. Pauline Spencer was born in DesMoines, Iowa, in 1898. She received her grade school education in Colorado Springs, and her high school diploma at WestDes Moines High School. Spencer majored in physical education at the University of Iowa (then known as the State University of Iowa), and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1923. She later received her Master's degree at Iowa State Teacher's College and also did some graduate work at Columbia University in New York.

During her undergraduate years at Iowa, Spencer excelled in athletics and was very active in the Women's AthleticAssociation (WAA). She served as president of the WAA for two years and was also elected as a delegate to the national convention. Spencer was the first female to win an athletic letter as a sophomore (an "I" sweater), and established another record by winning a second "I" before she graduated. After a particularly outstanding performanceat a track meet, one newspaper characterized her as "probably the most perfect girl at the State University of Iowa" and noted that her athletic record was one many men might envy. Her sister Helen was also very active in athletics.

Following graduation, Spencer taught at Iowa City Junior High School. The majority of her teaching career, however, took place at Omaha Technical High School in Omaha, Nebraska. She began her long tenure there as the director of physical education for girls, and later served as a counselor and then dean of girls. She retired from Tech High in 1963. Spencer received a number of honors and awards during her career including a nomination from her students for a national Best Teacher Contest in 1951.

In her leisure time, Spencer enjoyed traveling. She visited every state in the United States, went to Mexico a number of times, and also traveled abroad, visiting ten countries in Europe.

C. Pauline Spencer died at age eighty-seven in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1985. Her family established a scholarship for women physical education majors at the University of Iowa in her honor. To date, this prestigious award funds both undergraduate and graduate student recipients in the Department of Health, Leisure and Sport Studies, and also funds a graduate research assistantship at the Iowa Women's Archives.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

C. Pauline Spencer papers

Identifier: IWA0627

An outstanding athlete and the first woman to receive an athletic letter at the University of Iowa. She graduated in 1923.

Dates: 1920 -1985