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Identifier: 1

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Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

The Lela Powers Briggs papers date from 1892 to 1992 and measure 5.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in eleven series: Biographical information, Education, Correspondence: personal, Diaries and notebooks, Account books, Exhibits, Photographs, Ephemera, Sketches, Scrapbooks, and Artifacts. The collection focuses on the activities of a regional woman artist of the mid-twentieth century and her role as a rural homemaker. The papers form a rich personal recollection of the Briggs family, through Briggs' correspondence with her husband and sons, her parents, and her two sisters, Pearl and Delcia.

Boxes 1-7 are on loan to the Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries. Boxes 8-15 are housed at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

Housed at the Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries:

The Biographical information series contains official documents; papers relating to the Powers and Briggs families; a twenty-five page recollection of her grandparents, "Powersville Days," written in 1951; and miscellaneous materials concerning Lela Briggs' life.

The Education series (1902-1942) includes elementary school papers and essays, report cards, class notes, and the high school yearbooks for which Lela Briggs was the art editor. Information from the years after her high school graduation includes papers relating to the Art Institute of Chicago, Iowa State Teachers College, a correspondence course at the Federal School of Commercial Design in Minneapolis, and an interior design workshop at the Agricultural Extension Service at Iowa State College in 1942.

The Correspondence: personal series (1892-1953) contains hundreds of family letters and postcards, primarily those written by Briggs to her husband, children, and sisters.

In the Diaries and notebooks series (1935-1953) are two abbreviated diaries from the mid-1930s and four travel accounts of automobile trips, three of them to the West with her family and one to Georgia in 1951 to visit her son Roderick. An inveterate record-keeper and list-maker, Briggs' notebooks include plans for household tasks and self-improvement.

The Account books (1921-1968) detail household expenses.

The Exhibits series (1935-1992) includes catalogs for the shows in which Briggs displayed her paintings, correspondence relating specifically to these exhibits and to her paintings in general, and newspaper clippings about the exhibits. The series also includes correspondence between Wilbur Briggs and the GroutHistorical Museum about their holdings of Lela Briggs' paintings.

The Photographs (1906-1948, scattered) include portraits of Lela Briggs and snapshots of her family and friends.

Housed at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art:

The Ephemera series includes miscellaneous items Briggs collected, some relating to the art world, both local and national; interior design; and some unrelated to art, including newspaper clippings.

Briggs sketched on the endpapers of her school books. Six of these books are included in the Sketches series. Many loose pastel, charcoal, pencil and watercolor sketches from the years before 1917 appear in this series, along with various undated sketchbooks and portfolios.

Of the four Scrapbooks, the one from 1908-1917 includes sketches and correspondence (some removed to the appropriate Correspondence folder); one concerns Briggs' exhibits; another contains miscellaneous newspaper clippings; and one consists of memorabilia dating from 1913-1917.

A box of Artifacts includes paint boxes, her smock, clay molds, and miscellany.


  • Creation: 1892-1992


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.


From the Collection: 5.50 Linear Feet

From the Collection: Photographs in Box 7 boxes

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)