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Dorothy Ashby Pownall papers

Identifier: IWA0025

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Scope and Contents

The Dorothy Ashby Pownall papers date from 1918 to 1974 and measure 2.5 linear inches. The papers are divided into seven series: Biographical information, Correspondence, Lists of published articles, poems and speeches, "Woman of the year" speech, Newspaper clippings, Scrapbook, and Photograph.

Biographical information (1939-1974 and undated)consists of clippings from various newspapers. Pownall's "Woman of the year" speech (April 27, 1966) provides a sketch of her career and offers insight into the experience of being a woman in the largely male field of journalism.

The Correspondence (1919-1970 and undated)reflects some of Pownall's literary contacts. Most of the letters are from editors notifying Pownall that her work had been accepted for publication. Included are letters to and from Mr. and Mrs. James Bennet, Earl A. Blackman, Y.L. Bowers, Eugenia Whitmore Brown, James F. Conover, George A. Cornis, Gardner Cowles, Charles Dillingham, Mrs. Howard Dresser, B.F. Elbert, Opley Gallup, E. A. Gilmore, Beatrice B. Gould, Hazel Gropney, W. Earl Hall, W. C. Jarnagin, Florence King Harding, Mrs. John Mason-Brown, Edith Wasson McElroy, Patricia Meredith, Mrs. Earl (Dorothy) Miller, Marjorie Moon, William H. Morgan, Frank Luther Mott, Edward H. Plummer, Jake Reizenstein, Wilbur Schramm, Ellery Sedgwick, Keith Spalding, Mrs. James Alfred Van Allen, Emma Watkins, Morgan Wallace, Denison R. Waterman, Mrs. Francis Whitley, Lafe Jr. Young, and Sue Lind. Also included are two letters written to"Mary Manners" at the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

The Lists of published articles, poems and speeches are representative of some of the awards Pownall received during her career asa writer, as well as a partial list of published articles and poems.

Newspaper clippings (1922-1969 and undated) containarticles that Pownall wrote during the course of her career for various newspapers. In addition, a program forthe University Club's 1917-1967 Golden Anniversary May Breakfast, written by Pownall; an issue of Palimpsest from 1966 which is dedicated to "a girl reporter at Camp Dodge", and two original typed poems are included.

Scrapbook (1918-1922, 1935) makes up the bulk ofthe collection and contains early newspaper articles by Pownall, mostly written while she was employed by the Des Moines Capital. Many of the articles focus on Camp Dodge. Because Pownall wasoften assigned feature stories on women's topics, the scrapbook includes clippings on women's organizations and on Iowa women with unusual occupations.

The Photograph is of Pownall, dating from 1961.


  • Creation: 1918-1974


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

Dorothy Ashby Pownall was born June 20, 1895, in Superior, Wisconsin to George and Harriet Clark Ashby. She graduated from Central High School in Superior in 1912 and attended Lawrence College in Appleton from 1913 to 1915. Her college years were cut short due to the death of her father in 1915. Forced to leave college and go out on her own, she was fortunate in securing a job with the St. Paul Daily News at a time when women reporters were few.

Pownall worked for the St. Paul Daily News from 1915 to 1917. She was hired as a feature writer for the Des Moines Capital in 1917. During World War I, she was assigned to report the human interest side of the 88th Division of the National Army at Camp Dodge, the cantonment near Des Moines. Pownall was the only woman reporter covering Camp Dodge from its opening in 1917 until it was demobilized in 1919.

In 1918 she married Fred M. Pownall, who was telegraph editor of the same paper. She continued working for the Des Moines Capital until the birth their first child in 1920. The Pownalls had two daughters, Dorothy and Eleanor. Dorothy Pownall moved to Iowa City in 1927 with her husband when he became the director of publications at the University of Iowa. Using the pseudonym "Mary Manners", Pownall wrote an advice column for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, where she was employed from 1929 to 1939. Pownall was the woman's editor for the Iowa City Press-Citizen from 1947 to 1955. She continued as a free-lancewriter after retiring from the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Her poems and articles were published in numerous newspapers and journals, among them the New York Herald Tribune, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Christian Science Monitor, Saturday Evening Post, and Parents magazine.

She was active in a number of organizations, including the League of Women Voters, Iowa Press Women Inc., Theta Sigma Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, the University Club, and the Iowa City Craft Guild. She received many awards including the Iowa Golden Merit Award given by the Iowa Press Women, Inc. for outstanding contribution to the profession of journalism (1956) and three first-place awards from the National Federation of Press Women (1955, 1956 and 1967) in the categories of circulation, special article, and special series of articles. Pownall died in 1979.


2.50 linear inches

Photographs in Box 1. boxes

Language of Materials



Journalist who reported on Camp Dodge in Iowa during World War I.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 26) were donated by Dorothy Ashby Pownall in 1972.

Robert J. Jett, 1992.
Language of description
Script of description
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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)