Skip to main content

Helen Knievel papers

Identifier: IWA0718

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The Helen Knievel papers date from 1973 to and measure 7.5 linear inches. The papers are arranged in four series: Biographical, Articles, Professional, and Conferences and Programs.

The Biographical series consists of limited correspondence, certificates and awards from Beta Phi Mu (International Library Science Honor Society), and Helen Knievel's memoir. The memoir contains information about Knievel's life growing upin Cherokee, Iowa, her education, marriage, and more detailed descriptions ofher various positions as a librarian.

In the course of her career in library science, Helen Knievel wrote various articles for local newspapers as well as professional journals. The Articles series contains copies of these articles in both manuscript and published form. Many of the articles address issues of importance to rural librarians such as the difficulties faced by librarians working alone. Some of the articles also discuss subjects of interest to various patrons of the libraries, specifically children and the elderly.

The Professional series contains records from Helen Knievel's positions at the Northeast Iowa Regional Library System and at the Yankton, South Dakota public library. These records include information about projects Knievel worked on with the Northeast Iowa Regional Library System, including a children's materials course. This series also includes the scrapbook containing letters, cards, and photographs presented to Knievel at her retirement from the Northeast Iowa Regional Library System in 1980. This scrapbook, originally contained in a plastic binder, was removed from the binder and placed in folders for archival preservation purposes.

The Conferences and Programs series contains Helen Knievel's records of her attendance at professional conferences as well as her own notes and preparation for conferences that she helped to coordinate. Of specific interest to researchers looking for information on rural Iowa would be the materials for the "Services to Farmers" conference that Knievel prepared in 1979. Also of note are the conference materials for the Midwest Federation of Library Associations, the Rural Library Association, and the American Library Association.


  • Creation: 1973-2000


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Rural Iowa librarian and author Helen Jean Anderson was born in Cherokee, Iowa, on November 28, 1923 to Adam William Anderson and Lillie Constance Tollefson Anderson. The Anderson family lived on a farm in Cherokee county, Iowa. Helen Anderson attended one-room country schools in Cherokee and O'Brien counties in Iowa through eighth grade, and completed high school in Paullina, Iowa.

In 1941, she attended Northwestern Junior College in Orange City, Iowa, where she majored in library science and worked part time in the school's library. In 1942, she moved to Wichita, Kansas and then to Kansas City, Missouri, working on the electrical wiring for B-52 bombers at North American Aviation. In 1944, Helen Anderson moved to Minneapolis and enrolled in the library science program at the University of Minnesota, while also working in the chemistry library.

In March 1946, Helen Anderson married William R. Knievel, who was majoring in psychology at the University of Minnesota. After her marriage, Helen Knievel left school to work at the State Law Library in St. Paul until 1949. Helen Knievel returned to school at the University of Northern Iowa and earned her BA in school librarianship in 1969. Upon her graduation, she began working full time at the Cedar Falls Public Library in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She also earned her master's degree from the University of Missouri in 1973.

In 1974, her husband Bill Knievel died due to complications following heart surgery. Helen Knievel then accepted a position as traveling librarian for the Northeastern Iowa Regional Library System, serving seventy-eight libraries. She held this position for six years. Through her life, Helen Knievel worked at libraries in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Oregon, and California holding a variety of positions: clerk, reference librarian, interlibrary loan librarian, traveling librarian, director of libraries, library board member, and volunteer.

She was also active in the American Library Association, presented papers at several conferences, and helped to organize networks for librarians in small communities. Although she officially retired in 1984, Helen Knievel remained active in library service, volunteering at libraries in South Dakota, Oregon, and Iowa. Beginning in 1995, she served on the board of the Northwestern Regional Library in Sioux City, Iowa and continued to write editorials and articles about library work.


7.50 linear inches

Photographs in Box 1 boxes

Language of Materials



Librarian from rural Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The Helen Knievel papers (donor no. 688) were donated by Helen Knievel in 2001.

Stacy Ross, 2001.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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)