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Iola Vander Wilt papers

Identifier: IWA0441

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Scope and Contents

The Iola Vander Wilt papers date from 1963 to 1973 and measure 4 linear inches. The collection consists primarily of planning arrangements for the 1970 International Flying Farmers convention hosted by the Iowa chapter, plus cards, photographs, and newspaper clippings about her service as the 1970 Queen of the Flying Farmers of Iowa. The collection is divided into three series: Flying Farmer Conventions, Activities, and Photographs. The Flying Farmer Convention series contains programs, planning files, newspaper clippings and cards for a variety of national and state conventions. The Activities series includes newsletters with columns written by Iola Vander Wilt and other promotional material. The Photographs series consists of a few photographs from conventions and activities and the coronation of Iola Vander Wilt as Queen of the Flying Farmers of Iowa in 1970.


  • Creation: 1963-1973


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

Iola Marinus Vander Wilt, farmer, pilot, and bed and breakfast owner, was born to Henry and Agnes Marinus on a Polk County farm in 1930. In 1934, the Marinuses lost their corn crop to the drought and struggled, like many Iowa farmers, to feed and clothe their children. Iola Marinus graduated from Prairie City High School and attended American Institute of Business in Des Moines for a year before marrying Alvin Vander Wilt.

The Vander Wilts moved to Alvin Vander Wilt's parents' dairy farm near Leighton, Iowa, where they raised four children, Gloria, Marion, Mark, and Judy. Alvin Vander Wilt was active in the American Dairy Association of Iowa, serving as president in the early 1960s. The frequent travel this position required led him to become a licensed pilot and buy his own plane.

Consequently, both Alvin and Iola became active members of the Flying Farmers of Iowa. They were named Flying Farmers of the Year in 1965 and Iola Vander Wilt became the Region Four director, the first woman elected to the state board of the Flying Farmers of Iowa. She had become a licensed pilot in 1965 and initiated a "Ladies Land-it" workshop to teach women how to land planes. In 1966, she won awards from Piper Aircraft and Lycoming Motors (Cessna Aircraft) for her outstanding flight achievements as a woman flyer.

In 1968 and 1969 when the Vander Wilt children were old enough to learn to fly, Iola sponsored a flying teens program in Iowa. She was elected Queen of the Flying Farmers of Iowa at the state convention in Ottumwa in 1970 and hosted the International Flying Farmers Convention in Ames in 1971. During her year as queen, she promoted the Flying Farmers as well as airport development. Despite her interest in promoting the Flying Farmers, she did not seek the position of national queen because of the cost of flying to various state conventions.

Alvin and Iola Vander Wilt continued flying until Alvin Vander Wilt's ill health caused them to stop in 1978. They spent many vacations in the air with their children, attending conventions around the country. In 1983, Iola Vander Wilt redecorated the farmhouse and opened it as a bed and breakfast. After Alvin Vander Wilt died in 1994, Iola Vander Wilt remained on the farm, renting out half of the land and farming the other half with her son Mark. She remarried February 28, 2000 and continued to reside at the farm and operate the bed and breakfast.


4.00 linear inches

Photographs in Box 1 boxes

Language of Materials



Farmwoman and past Queen of Flying Farmers of Iowa who encouraged farm wives and teens to learn to fly.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 647) were donated by Iola Vander Wilt in 1999.

Doris Malkmus, 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)