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Boedeker, Margaret Talcott



  • Existence: 1919 - 2000


Margaret Talcott was born to the Fayette County farm family of Carrie and Myron Talcott. She graduated from Randalia High School in 1937 and matriculated at Iowa State University (ISU). At ISU, she roomed at Alice Freeman Hall until she graduated in 1941 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics Education.

After graduation, she interviewed for a teaching position in the Ojibway tribal public school at Red Lake, Minnesota, where she taught social science, physical education, and home economics until 1944.

In 1944, she joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs and was assigned to a school in Araibi, Arizona to teach Hopi children. She was transferred when the incoming principal's wife was certified to teach home economics. The following year, she taught in Macy, Nebraska, where she enjoyed working under the Cherokee principal, George Washington. At Macy, she primarily taught children of the Winnebago and Omaha tribes. During this assignment, she went to a summer school sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Carson City, Nevada.

In 1948, she realized her goal of teaching in Alaska. The first year, she taught third grade Aleut and other native children at a temporary school in Wrangell, Alaska. These students had been evacuated from Stewart Island during the war and spoke no English. Talcott was transferred the following year to a high school in White Mountain, Alaska where she again taught home economics to high school students as well as supervising the girl's dormitory and kitchen. White Mountain was east of Nome and accessible only by boat, sled, or bush plane.

In 1951, she transferred to the Sherman Institute in Riverside, California. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had recently transferred native-speaking Navajos to this English-speaking school in California. Unhappy with the situation and concerned about her father's poor health, Talcott resigned from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and returned to Iowa. Finding her father's health stable, she returned to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Elbow Woods, North Dakota, on the Missouri River. In 1953, the year she taught there, her father died. When this town was removed for a dam project, she transferred to the Pine Ridge reservation school in South Dakota's Black Hills. Her mother made several trips to visit with her while she worked at Pine Ridge.

While there, she helped place and supervised Sioux students in tourist or farm jobs, leading her to pursue, in 1958, graduate work in vocational counseling at Stout College in Menominee, Wisconsin. When a family friend suggested she transfer to the University of South Dakota at Brookings and staff a National Institute of Health research project, she agreed. She received a master's degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of South Dakota in 1961.

That year, her mother urged her to return to Iowa to marry Martin Boedeker, a local widower with two young sons. After a brief courtship, they married on July 29, 1961 and farmed Tall Oaks, the Talcott farm, until 1966.

From 1966 to 1981, Margaret Boedeker worked as a rehabilitation counselor in Waterloo, Iowa. During this time, she served as president of a ten-state vocational rehabilitation professional organization.

After Martin Boedeker died in 1981, she moved to Maynard, Iowa and worked for Fayette County Social Service Department and opened a bed and breakfast. Boedeker was an active volunteer with the Commission of Persons with Disabilities and her church. In 1987, Boedeker was instrumental in organizing the Fayette County Tourism Council. She and her sister Gladys Rife also purchased Fayette County landmarks for restoration and reuse. In 1997, she won a state tourism award for the length of her service.

Margaret Talcott Boedeker died after a short illness on February 22, 2000.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Margaret Talcott Boedeker papers

Identifier: IWA0401

Teacher with Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1941-1963; vocational counselor and tourism advocate.

Dates: 1937-1998