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Dorothy Schramm papers

Identifier: IWA0183

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Scope and Contents

The Dorothy Schramm papers date from 1938 to 2006 and measure six linear feet. The papers are arranged in seven series: State Politics, National Politics, National League of Women Voters, Burlington Community Action, United Nations, Fine Arts, and Photographs. This finding aid reflects the reprocessing of the collection in 2001, during which the materials were reorganized into new folders, series, and boxes. A copy of the original finding aid, which shows the earlier arrangement, is available upon request.

The State Politics series (1948-1981) contains materials from Schramm's work with political organizations in Iowa on the state level. The series contains promotional correspondence, clippings and a copy of the publication Iowa in the World (1968), for which Schramm served as an editor. Iowa in the World demonstrated Iowa's cultural and economic connection with the rest of the world, including chapters regarding its ethnic heritage and its role in global health, agriculture, and technology.

The series also includes correspondence and materials from Schramm's work on various committees in state politics: Iowa Federal Judiciary Selection Committee (1977-1981), Governor's International Cooperation Year (1965-1966), Iowa Society for Mental Health (1955-1956), and Fair Employment Practices in Iowa (1948-1956).Materials from Iowa Republican Party workshops (1955-1959), including programs, correspondence, and handouts, complete the series.

The National Politics series (1945-1957) is comprised of materials from Schramm's work in national politics. The series includes correspondence and materials from Schramm's involvement with Americans United for a World Organization (1945-1946), an early promoter of the United Nations. In addition, the series contains correspondence, newsletters, programs, transcripts, and meeting minutes for National Republican Workshops from 1945-1956. The last two folders of the series consist of clippings, correspondence, and newsletters from Schramm's committee work on the Food for Freedom campaign (1945) and the Committee for National Trade Policy (1954).

The National League of Women Voters series (1943-1955) includes information on Schramm's work with the Burlington, Iowa chapter of this organization, for which she was a founding member. In 1947, Schramm authored a pamphlet for the League of Women Voters of Iowa entitled, You are Democracy, that garnered national attention. The series includes the original publication and its later adaptations for the League of Women Voters in Des Moines and Dubuque (1947-1948). In addition, it contains Schramm's research notes, correspondence, and publicity clippings including an article in the Christian Science Monitor. The remainder of the series consists of Schramm's collection of publications from the National League of Women Voters (1943-1944) and her personal collection of material on political parties (1940-1955).

The Burlington Community Action series consists of materials from Schramm's work for various community organizations in Burlington, Iowa. Schramm helped organize Burlington's Atomic Energy Week in 1947. The series contains publicity clippings, a radio program transcript, and correspondence including a letter of commendation from Albert Einstein.

Schramm also participated in projects for the advancement of civil rights in Burlington. She and other committee members organized a landmark survey on race relations in Burlington in 1950. The series includes two copies of the final report, an appendix to the report, newspaper clippings (1950-1953), a radio program, and Schramm's speech to the New York Cosmopolitan Club for the United Negro College Fund (1953). The series also contains Schramm's collection of materials on civil rights and race (1957-1964), as well as materials from her service as a member of the Mayor's Committee on Civic Unity (1955) and the Burlington Commission on Human Rights (1964-1968).

The United Nations series (1955-1997) details Schramm's involvement with the United Nations. It is the largest series in the collection and is divided into three sub-series: Burlington UN activities; American Association for the UN, Iowa Branch; and Governor's UN committee.

The Burlington UN activities sub-series concerns Schramm's involvement in United Nations work in Burlington, Iowa. In 1955, Schramm organized a UN day for Burlington that included a visit from Eleanor Roosevelt. Newspaper clippings and correspondence regarding this event, including Mrs. Roosevelt's nationally syndicated column, "My Day" mentioning her visit to Burlington and meeting with Dorothy Schramm are contained in this subseries. The subseries also includes materials from subsequent UN days in Burlington (1956-1965), the Burlington Mayor's Committee for the United Nations (1958), and the Burlington Walk for Development (1969-1970). Schramm received a large amount of correspondence regarding her UN work in Burlington, and the sub-series contains correspondence from 1966-1997 including letters from George Bush and Henry Kissinger.

The American Association for the United Nations and its Iowa Branch sub-series documents Schramm's activities with this group. The national organization's name changed from the American Association for the United Nations (1943-1964) to its current name, The United Nations Association of the United States, Inc. in 1964. Correspondingly, the Iowa branch changed from the National Association for the United Nations, Iowa Branch to the United Nations Association of Iowa the same year. The organization actively educates the public about the United Nations and promotes its activities in chapters throughout the United States.

The subseries contains publicity materials(1955-1965), UN anniversary programs (1965-1997), correspondence with Senator Jack Miller (1956), newspaper clippings (1966-1977), membership campaign materials (1954-1963), finance drive materials (1958-1968), annual meeting materials (1955-1968), and materials from national biennial conventions (1960,1964) and annual conferences (1962, 1964). In addition, it includes research materials and drafts of speeches Schramm delivered throughout the United States to promote the organization (1957-1962). It also contains materials from numerous special topics: the proposed Bricker Amendment to the Constitution (1955-1957), a visit by British UN delegate Lord Caradon (1969), an Iowa UN banner competition (1970), International Women's Year (1975), the Panama Canal (1978), and conventional weapons issues (1975-1978). The conventional weapons topic includes correspondence between Schramm and politicians including Tom Harkin, Jim Leach, Chuck Grassley, Dick Clark, and Harold E. Hughes.

The Governor's UN Committee (1954-1968) sub-series completes the United Nations series of the Schramm papers. This collection contains publicity and materials from both the Iowa UN Day it organized in 1956 and its national counterpart. In addition, it contains meeting materials, publications, and correspondence from the Governor's UN committee from 1954 to 1968.

The Fine Arts series (1938-1969) documents Dorothy Schramm's activities in collecting and supporting art. The series includes a booklet entitled Art of the 20th Century Collected by James and Dorothy Schramm that features photographs and descriptions of art that the Schramms collected. In addition, the series contains correspondence and materials from Schramm's work on the Governor's Art Commission (1962-1963) and the Grinnell College Board of Overseers (1962-1964). This series also contains information that Dorothy Schramm collected regarding various Works Progress Administration art projects (1938-1969).

The Photographs series (1937-1968) consists of photographs removed from other series; each photograph was replaced in its respective folder with a photocopy. The series contains photographs of UN activities including Eleanor Roosevelt's visit to Burlington, Iowa (1955), the Burlington Walk for Development (1969-1970), and British UN delegate Lord Caradon (1969). In addition, it includes a photograph from Burlington Atomic Energy Week (1947), photographs of the mural "Social History of Des Moines", painted by Donald Jones (1941), and photographs for Iowa in the World that originally appeared in Look magazine. The series also contains negatives from Iowa in the World and American Association for the United Nations activities.


  • Creation: 1938-2006


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

Dorothy Schramm, art collector and political activist, was born in Tilton, New Hampshire, on June 16, 1909. She married James Schramm and made Burlington, Iowa her permanent home. Schramm's family owned the J.S. Schramm department store in downtown Burlington, which served its community for more than 150 years before it closed in 1987. The Schramms avidly supported and collected African sculpture and post-1940 American and European painting, sculpture, and prints. Dorothy Schramm's active support of art encompassed Works Progress Administration projects, Grinnell College's Art Collection, and the Governor's Art Commission. She was listed in the 1989-1990 Who's Who in American Art.

In addition to her interest in the arts, Dorothy Schramm participated in a wide variety of political organizations. She was a founding member of the Burlington League of Women Voters in the late 1930s and authored a nationally recognized handbook, You are Democracy for the organization in 1948. She actively supported the United Nations, and served as both the state president and national vice president of the American Association for the United Nations. She chaired the first United Nations Day and helped organize activities promoting the United Nations and its issues for over two decades. She spoke in favor of the organization throughout the United States.

In the 1950s, Schramm participated in a number of activities to combat racism. She and several other Burlington residents sponsored the 1950 Burlington Self-Survey on Human Relations that analyzed the relationships between the races in Burlington, Iowa. Schramm promoted the report through radio programs, speeches, and her work with groups such as the Mayor's Committee on Civic Unity and the Burlington Commission on Human Rights. She was a member of the Iowa National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served as its vice president in 1953.

Schramm's work has earned her a number of awards. She was a 1971 recipient of The University of Iowa's Distinguished Service Award, and received honorary degrees from Grinnell College and Morningside College. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1986. Dorothy Schramm passed away in 2006.


6.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Human rights advocate from Burlington, Iowa who was active in local and international issues, particularly UNA-USA and the League of Women Voters.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 263) were donated by Dorothy Schramm in 1995.

Related Materials

League of Women Voters of Iowa records (IWA): Dorothy Schramm was an active member of the League in the 1940s and 1950s, and its meeting minutes document her participation in the group.

Special Collections staff; Heather Stecklein, 2001.
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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)