Skip to main content

Archie Alphonse Alexander Papers

 Collection
Identifier: msc0304
The papers of Archie Alexander consist of 120 items dating from 1940 to 1970. Subject files include topics which range from testimonial dinners to nomination hearings before the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs and from Howard University to construction project photographs. Speeches, correspondence, and clippings complete the papers.

Dates

  • 1940-1970

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Extent

120.00 items

Abstract

Engineer and governor of the Virgin Islands. Subject files, correspondence, speeches, clippings, etc. relating to his career as an engineer, diplomat, and university trustee.

Biographical / Historical

Archie Alphonse Alexander was born in Ottumwa, Iowa, on May 14, 1888 . He was the first African-American to graduate from the University of Iowa's College of Engineering. He earned his degree in civil engineering in 1912. While a student at Iowa, he also was a member of the varsity football team.

Alexander opened his own engineering firm of A.A. Alexander, Inc. in 1914, in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1917, Alexander and George F. Higbee entered into a partnership. Their engineering company specialized in building bridges, viaducts, and sewage systems throughout Iowa. In 1925, Higbee was killed in a construction accident. For the next several years Alexander continued the business alone. During this period he received several large construction contracts at his alma mater, including the University's power plant and tunnel system. In 1929, Maurice Repass joined him as a junior partner. They had been classmates at Iowa and had played football together. They went on to complete projects in most of the then forty-eight states. Between 1914 and 1950, Alexander's businesses completed over three hundred projects.

Alexander was also active outside of his business. He was president of the Des Moines chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He was also president of the local chapter of the Inter-racial Commission. He was a trustee of both Howard University and the Tuskeegee Institute. Alexander directed that his estate be used to establish engineering scholarships at Howard University, Tuskeegee Institute, and the University of Iowa.

A.A. Alexander was an active Republican who twice served as assistant to the chairman of Iowa's Republican State Committee. And early in 1952, he joined the "Eisenhower for President" movement. His party loyalty was rewarded with the post of Governor of the Virgin Islands. Not well suited to diplomacy, Alexander served only one year. By 1955 his health was failing. Archie A. Alexander died of a heart attack on January 4, 1958.

Method of Acquisition

This collection was purchased by the University of Iowa Libraries in 1974.
Language of description
eng

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5921
319-335-5900 (Fax)