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Ortha P. Neff papers

Identifier: IWA0561

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Scope and Contents

The Ortha P. Neff papers date from 1944 to 2006 and measure 1 linear inch. The collection contains clippings and photographs from Neff's years as a Red Cross staff member in Hawaii and Okinawa during World War II and her career as a member of the Girls Scout professional staff. Also included are two letters, one from Ortha Lane, and the other detailing Neff's arrival in Okinawa in 1945. Neff's memoirs consist of essays and poems about farm life, World War II, the Girl Scouts, race, and religion. A videotaped oral history interview with Neff, conducted by Mary Evans of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library as part of the Library of Congress Veterans Oral History Project, completes the collection.


  • Creation: 1944-2006


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor.

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

Ortha P. Neff, Red Cross staff member and Girl Scout Council Executive Director, was born on a farm near Nichols, Iowa, in 1915. She was named after Ortha Lane, a Christian missionary to China and a friend of Neff's mother. Neff attended a small country school across the road from her home, and graduated from Nichols High School in 1932. After one year at Ottumwa Heights College, a Catholic convent school, she began teaching at the country school in Nichols in order to save enough money to attend the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). After earning her BA from the State University of Iowa in 1940, she taught at Charter Oak High School in Charter Oak, Iowa, and in Knoxville, Iowa. Neff joined the Red Cross in 1944 and worked in military tent hospitals in Hawaii and Okinawa until the end of World War II.

After returning to the United States, Neff trained to become a member of the Girl Scout professional staff in two Indiana councils. She earned her master's degree from the University of Indiana and became a staff member for the Chicago Girl Scouts. Later, as a member of the national staff, Neff worked in Kansas City, San Francisco, and Heidelberg, Germany (as part of the Girl Scout Troops on Foreign Soil). In 1976, Neff retired to her brother's farm in Nichols. In 1984, she moved to a retirement community in Iowa City, where she completed her memoirs.


1.00 linear inch

One videocassette [V372]; Photographs in Box 1 boxes

Language of Materials



Red Cross staff member who was stationed in Okinawa and Hawaii during World War II.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1020) were donated by Ortha Neff in 2006.

Related Materials

Ortha Lane papers (IWA)

Ashley Goulden, 2007.
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)