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Harris, Claudine



  • Existence: 1926-

Claudine (Maroni) Harris was born in Paris, France, on December 10, 1926, the daughter of Valentine (Meyer-May) and Robert Maroni. She had two brothers: Yves, born August 31, 1920; and Jacques, born January 9, 1923. Her grandparents, Albert and Dona Maroni, and Paul and Yvonne Meyer-May, were all French. Claudine Harris attended a number of schools in France and the United States. Her early education was in France. She had one year of secondary school remaining when her immediate family came to the United States in 1941 during the Second World War and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Claudine Harris graduated from Cambridge High and Latin School in 1942.

Accepted at Radcliffe College, she received her B.A. degree in physics in 1946. There followed a year as Instructor in Physics at Simmons College, in Boston. She then returned to Harvard University to pursue graduate work in physics and received an M.A. in 1949. She married James Lee Harris on January 1, 1954. Jim (born January 6, 1920 in Richmond, Virginia, died September 20, 2001, in Iowa City) was the son of Janet (Sharp) and James Davis Harris. Claudine and Jim Harris began life together in Cambridge, where their two children were born: Gregory, November 21, 1954 and Nicole, June 5, 1956.

Harris began her professional career working in radiation detection instrumentation, first as a research assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Radioactivity Center, while she was still a student; then with Tracerlab, a Boston company, where she headed a team developing Geiger counters from 1949 until 1953. When she left Tracerlab, she sought work as a technical editor. She worked in that capacity at the MIT Lexington Laboratory until her son was born. She stayed home to raise the children until 1963, when she returned to employment outside the home. From then on, until her retirement from paid jobs in 1993, she was employed in various forms of technical writing and editing, sometimes on a part-time basis, sometimes as a freelancer, and eventually full-time for twenty-one years until her retirement.

From 1963 to 1967, she held several part time jobs in Cambridge. After completing graduate studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Jim Harris had begun a practice in architecture and urban planning in Cambridge. In 1967, he joined the faculty at the University of Iowa to develop the Graduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning, and the family moved to Iowa City.

During her first years in Iowa, Claudine Harris free-lanced for the University of Iowa Press, doing a large number of book indexes, and taking on occasional short editing jobs for faculty members. After the children left for college, she returned to full-time work as a technical writer at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), first for the State Services for Crippled Children (SSCC), a program partly funded under Title V of the Social Security Act. She wrote grant applications for clinical research projects in areas related to child disabilities, and reports to the granting agencies, the state of Iowa and the UIHC. In 1981, she joined the Information Systems Department of the UIHC where she wrote a variety of materials documenting computer applications for hospital administration and financial management and coordinated the development of a multi-media public information display. At the time of her retirement in December 1993, she was a Senior Application Specialist (Technical Writer).

Until her children finished school and left for college, Claudine Harris devoted herself to the family and to volunteer activities, while occasionally taking on book indexing and short editing jobs for the University of Iowa Press. A major volunteer activity during that period was as editor of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Johnson County's monthly newsletter, the Voter. She had been a member of the LWV since 1961 when she lived in Cohasset, Massachusetts.

She served on the LWV of Johnson County board of directors and participated in a county study. Other volunteer posts were with the Cardinal Council of Girl Scouts and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City. She also participated in the consultation of Religious Communities and was a director of the Iowa City Area Science Center. In 2001, she returned to the board of the LWV.

In 1985, Claudine Harris had joined the newly-forming chapter of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill (AMI) in Johnson County, which later became the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and, from that time, advocacy for mental illness services became the main focus of her volunteer activities. She served NAMI in numerous capacities in the county and in the state. She was president of NAMI of Johnson County from 1990 to 1992, and of NAMI Iowa from 1992 to 1996. She served as legislative chair of NAMI Iowa from 1992 to 2001. Her work with NAMI led her to participate in a number of task forces and committees concerned with making changes in the mental health services delivery system in the state of Iowa. She served in 1992 and 1993 on a Restructuring Task Force established by the state legislature to recommend improvements in the mental health care delivery system.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Claudine Harris papers

Identifier: IWA0446
Abstract Harris worked in radiation detection instrumentation. She was active in the Johnson County League of Women Voters and the Johnson County Alliance for the Mentally Ill.