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Dora E. Mackay papers

 Collection — Folder: 1
Identifier: IWA0248

Scope and Contents

The Dora E. Mackay papers date from 1932 to the 2006 and measure 0.25 linear inches. The collection consists of photographs, primarily of Mackay, newspaper clippings, and an oral history interview conducted by Kären Mason in 2006. Other individuals featured include Dora Mackay's sister, Virginia Mackay Williams, and members of the Mary Church Terrell club.


  • Creation: 1932-2006


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

Dora E. Mackay, an African-American singer and beauty shop owner in Des Moines, was born on August 12, 1915 to Ernest and Izora Mackay. As a high-school student in 1931, Mackay became a founding member of the Mary Church Terrell Club, a social and civic club in Des Moines. She remained an active member. Mackay attended the Crescent School of Beauty and Culture in Des Moines and was a member of its first graduating class in 1940. Later that year, Mackay assumed ownership of Berline's Beauty Shop, one of a small number of black beauty shops in Des Moines. She retired in 1978. Although she built a career in cosmetology, Mackay pursued singing as a side interest. During the 1940s, she sang and played the piano for local radio stations. She performed as a singer at the club Johnny and Kay's for ten years during the 1970s.


0.25 linear inches

1 Cassettes (One audiocassette [AC1109].)

Language of Materials



African American singer and beauty shop owner in Des Moines, Iowa.


One folder, shelved in SCVF; one audiocassette [AC1109] shelved in audiocassette collection.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 346) were donated by Dora E. Mackay in 1996 and subsequent years.

Related Materials

Verda L. Williams papers (IWA): Verda Williams is Dora Mackay's niece.

Kristen Rassbach, 1997; Kathryn M. Neal, 1998; and Jun-Nicole Matsushita, 2006.
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)