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Maude Esther White papers

Identifier: IWA0196

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Scope and Contents

The Maude Esther White papers date from 1957 to 1996 and measure 8 linear inches. The papers are arranged in five series: Biographical information, Correspondence, Des Moines Tutoring Center, Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans, and Photographs.

The Biographical information series (1966, 1972-1996) comprises materials about Maude White's life, including newspaper clippings and articles about and by White and her family. Awards, certificates of honor, and nomination materials for the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame complete the series.

The Correspondence series (1976-1996) consists primarily of personal notes of appreciation and congratulations to Maude White.

Materials about the Des Moines Tutoring Center and statistical reports on the Center are represented in the Des Moines Tutoring Center series (1984-1993). Four videocassettes are devoted to Center programs, including the Asian program, the Model Cities program, one at the YWCA, and a program, "Reaching for the Stars Without Drugs." A short interview with White is also included.

The series Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans (1991, 1995) includes the research report on education written by the educational and cultural committee, which White chaired.

The Photographs series (1957-1989 and undated) includes some family photographs but comprises primarily snapshots and slides of Tutoring Center activities. Most of the photographs have been disbound from a scrapbook. A sample of these photographs was selected to illustrate the various activities of the Tutoring Center.

It includes photographs of Maude White, her colleagues and students at the Center, as well as the field trips and recreational activities sponsored by the Center.


  • Creation: 1957-1996


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

Maude Esther White was born on September13, 1913, in Enterprise, Iowa, the daughter of the Reverend and Mrs. Grant W. White, and one of nine children. Her father founded the first black Methodist church in the town of Perry. She spent her early years in Perry and graduated from high school there in 1932. White moved to California, where she attended the Frank Wiggins Secretarial School and worked for the city and county of Los Angeles (1942-1944) and the California Department of Employment (1944-1950). In 1956 White enrolled at the University of California-Berkeley, where she completed three years of work toward an undergraduate degree. She spent a year in Africa and returned to Iowa in 1964, receiving a B.A. in social science from Drake University in Des Moines in 1966 and an M.A. in sociology in 1972. Her thesis was entitled "A Sociological Inquiry into Black Leadership in Des Moines" and dealt with the effectiveness of black leadership in education, employment, housing, and business.

From 1967 until her retirement in 1978, White was employed in a variety of positions in the Iowa state government. She was a counselor with the Employment Security Commission (now Job Service of Iowa) from 1967 to 1969, and coordinator of the Model Cities program (1969-1973). In 1973 she was appointed by Governor Robert Ray to be the first affirmative action administrator for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and served in that position until her retirement. All of these positions required that she work with people disadvantaged in education, employment, housing and business.

After White retired, she became a substitute teacher in the Des Moines public school system. She soon realized that many of the students needed additional academic assistance. In 1981 at the age of sixty-nine she began her second career when she founded the Des Moines Tutoring Center. Originally operated out of her home, the center expanded to eleven sites, including several located in the Des Moines elementary schools. A significant number of the children were from low-income families referred to the program by parents, teachers, or counselors. Funding was provided by the United Way of Central Iowa, Des Moines Housing and Community Development Office, individual donations, and tuition. In 1993 the Tutoring Center became an affiliate of Children and Families of Iowa. At the age of eighty White retired from the center.

White has been widely recognized for her many achievements and contributions to the community. Among her many honors are the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President's Award for Providing Excellence in Education (1983); Young Women's Christian Association(YWCA) Women of Achievement (1988); honorary doctorate of laws degree from Grand View College, Des Moines (1994); Friend of the Children Award, Coalition for Family and Children's Services In Iowa (1994); the National Conference of Christians and Jews Brotherhood/Sisterhood Award (1996); and the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice from the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women (1996). In 1995 Grand View College established the Maude Esther White Endowed Scholarship. She has also been nominated for induction into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.

White has written position papers for many organizations and participated in task forces for government and civic organizations. She lectures widely, has written newspaper columns, booklets, and manuals and has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Drake Alumni Association, and Girl Scouts of America. She is a past president of the Des Moines Branch of the NAACP and chaired the Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans.


8.00 linear inches

4 videocassettes ([V56-V59])

Language of Materials



Founder of the Des Moines Tutoring Center, and Iowa's first Affirmative Action administrator from 1973 to 1978.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 277) were donated by Maude Esther White in 1995 and succeeding years.

Natalie Brody, 1997.
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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)