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Elizabeth Wherry papers

Identifier: IWA0028

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Scope and Contents

The Elizabeth Wherry papers measure 5 linear feet and date from 1904 to 1960. The papers are arranged in six series: Domestic life, Education, Family, Writings for adults, Writings for children, and Audiovisual. This collection documents the personal and professional life of a writer known for her articles on farming and women's rural issues, and for her stories and poems for children.

The Wherrys kept detailed accounts relating to the management of their Wyoming, Iowa farm. Elizabeth Wherry's personal papers, such as recipes, diaries, photographs and a scrapbook, relate to the interior management of the farm. Her diaries span from 1932 to 1953. The photographs include undated pictures of Wherry and her immediate family. These papers are located in the Domestic life series (1919-1960).

In the Education series(1909-1951) Wherry's college notebooks reflect her studies in children's education and sociology. At the State University of Iowa in 1949, she took a sociology course entitled "Problems of marriage and family," in which she conducted a survey of widows.

The Family series (1904-1960)contains correspondence, newspaper clippings and documents pertaining to the Cripliver and Wherry families.

The Writings for adults series (1920-1956) consists of correspondence, newspaper clippings, and manuscripts that relate to the essays, fiction, newspaper articles, plays, poetry, speeches, and radio programs Wherry wrote for an adult audience. In the late twenties and thirties she compiled notes and transcripts toward a history of Iowa pioneers, based on her ancestors' personal experiences.

Wherry published numerous works for children, including essays, fiction, articles for Better Homes and Gardens, poetry, and non-fiction. The newspaper clippings, manuscripts, and papers pertaining to these works are found in the Writings for children series (1928-1942).

The audiovisual series contains several slides depicting farm life in the 1940s.


  • Creation: 1904-1960


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Elizabeth Wherry was born January 29, 1893, in Tipton, Iowa, as Elizabeth Cripliver, daughter of Jacob and Ella Cripliver. After graduating from Tipton High School in 1909, she studied education at Iowa State Teachers College(now the University of Northern Iowa) in Cedar Falls from 1909-1910 and 1913-1914. She married Don L. Wherry on March31, 1914. She and her husband were farmers from 1920 to 1943 near Wyoming, Iowa. It was during this time that Elizabeth Wherry made a name for herself as a writer concerned with the role and duties of the farm woman. In an era before water systems and sewage disposal, electricity, hot water and freezers, Wherry gave other farm women advice on how to cope with the isolation and hard work in order to live more graciously. Hers was a message of kindness and hospitality.

Wherry was widely recognized as an Iowa author and columnist and a member of the first Iowa Dairy Industry Commission. In her writing, her chief subjects were rural life and farming. She is perhaps best known for her column "Country Air," which she wrote for nearly thirty years for Wallace's Farmer, where she also worked as associate editor. Among Wherry's many published writings are feature articles for Successful Farming magazine, and a column for the Cedar Rapids Gazette's farm page called "Soul Conservation." Wherry was also a prolific author of children's literature, and wrote children's books for Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Other writings include a radio program for WSUI in Iowa City called "Country Neighbors" and book reviews for the Des Moines Register.

The Wherrys had two sons: John, born in 1919, and Richard, born in 1925. John Wherry contributed a column for a time in the Clinton Iowa Herald. Don Wherry spent the last several years of his life teaching in the Iowa public school system. After her husband's death in 1948, Elizabeth Wherry moved to Iowa City, where she was the house mother for the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. She attended the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) from 1948 to1950, where she studied writing and journalism and made the honor roll. After several years, she moved to Mount Vernon, Iowa where she was house mother for Peiffer Hall at Cornell College. In 1953 she moved to Anamosa, Iowa, where she died in 1956 of a heart attack.


5.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Farm magazine writer.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 29) were donated by Marguerite Johnson in 1966 and Ruth Wherry in 2000.

Related Materials

Virgina Randolph papers (IWA): Randolph was Wherry's niece. The Randolph papers contain biographical sketches, photographs and clippings pertaining to Wherry

Stuart Hinds, 1993; Katherine Price, 1994; Sharon M. Lake, 2008.
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)