Skip to main content

Dorothy and Warren Wirtz papers

Identifier: IWA0117

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The Dorothy and Warren Wirtz papers date from 1914-2012 and measure 14.38 linear feet. They are arranged into 13 series: Biographical, Personal, Education, Diaries, Correspondence: original, general, Correspondence: original, family, Correspondence: transcribed, Correspondence: postcards, Wirtz Family, Warren “Jack” Wirtz, Photographs, Audio Visual, and Artifacts.

The Biographical series (1936-2003) contains materials donated by Dorothy Wirtz in 1996, and 2004, and by Grinnell College in 2008. The series includes biographical sketches of both Wirtz siblings and some of their collegiate correspondence. The series also contains Dorothy Wirtz’s academic articles, some of her poetry, and one musical composition by Warren Wirtz. There are two photographs of Dorothy and Warren Wirtz in this series.

The Personal series (1927-1997) contains materials from Dorothy Wirtz’s childhood including an autograph book signed by her school mates, her handmade paper dolls, and her scrapbooks. The series also includes materials related to Wirtz’s interests, such as her passports and name tags from various trips she took through the 1980s and 1990s, programs from plays she attended, and newspaper clippings about her life and poetry.

The Education series (1914-1944) covers Dorothy Wirtz’s education from elementary school in Keokuk, Iowa to her PhD studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The series includes a text book that Wirtz used in elementary school, Wirtz’s report cards, and diplomas from the University of Iowa and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Wirtz’s thesis: Gustave Flaubert, Pictorial and Plastic Artist is also in this series as well as a copy of the Freshman Focus, a student publication of Culver-Stockton College in which Dorothy Wirtz had several poems.

The Diaries series (1930-2012) comprises of Dorothy Wirtz’s diaries, which she kept from 1930-1949 and again from 1972-2012.

The correspondence is split into four series to reflect the way Dorothy Wirtz organized it:

The Correspondence: original, general series (1931-1994) includes letters from Dorothy Wirtz’s friends, colleagues, and students. Wirtz kept this correspondence in letter boxes; it is organized first chronologically and then alphabetically by correspondent’s last name.

The Correspondence: original, family series (1935-1970) contains correspondence exchanged between Dorothy, her parents, and her brother. The series is split into Dorothy Wirtz’s incoming and outgoing correspondence. The series also includes correspondence between Alma Wirtz, her husband, and her son.

The Correspondence: transcribed series (1935-1952) is comprised of correspondence between Dorothy Wirtz and her parents and brother which she transcribed from the original copies. Some of the letters in this series have duplicates in the Correspondence: Original, family series.

The Correspondence: postcards series (1936-1959) contains postcards to and from Dorothy Wirtz and her brother, Warren Wirz. The majority of the postcards are from their mother, Alma. The series is organized by person, first including Dorothy Wirtz’s incoming and outgoing postcards, and then Warren Wirtz’s.

The Wirtz Family series (c. 1890-1976) contains materials pertaining to the extended Wirtz family, including Dorothy and Warren Wirtz’s parents, John and Alma. The series includes textbooks, drawings by Alma Wirtz, and financial records relating to the purchase and sale of property by John and Alma Wirtz.

The Warren “Jack” Wirtz (1931-1972) series comprises of materials relating to Warren Wirtz’s life and career. The bulk of this series is comprised of Warren Wirtz’s musical compositions. Within the series are several manuscripts and over fifty completed works. They are undated but were probably composed during the 1950s and 1960s when he lived in Arizona. Additionally, the series includes his diplomas from high school and from the University of Iowa, some of his personal calendars, and his resume with a list of his musical compositions. It also contains copyright registration documentation for some of his works. Much of the series is dedicated to his writing. The series contains poetry written by Wirtz during his days as a student at Culver-Stockton, and several drafts of later poetry which he combined into an unpublished anthology titled Poems, 1944-1949. In addition to his poetry, the series includes short plays written by Warren Wirtz.

The Photographs series includes mostly photographs of Warren Wirtz, including photographs from his trip to France from 1947-1949. The series also has a few photographs of Dorothy Wirtz, and many pictures of her paintings, taken in the 1970s.

The Audiovisual series comprises of two audio reel recordings of Warren’s Wirtz’s work and two copies of a record entitled “Christmas 1964,” which includes a song composed by Wirtz.

The Artifacts series includes Dorothy and Warren Wirtz’s baby shoes; examples of Dorothy Wirtz’s dolls’ clothes; accessories belonging to John and Alma Wirtz, including a wedding necktie; and name tags accrued by Dorothy Wirtz through her career and travels.


  • Creation: 1915-2012


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 Marie Wirtz was born in 1915 to John and Alma Wirtz in Keokuk, Iowa. Her brother Warren “Jack” Wirtz was born was born one year later. The siblings grew up and attended schools in Keokuk where their father owned a bowling alley. Wirtz and her brother first attended Culver-Stockton College in Missouri, where Wirtz won the Vachel Lindsay prize in poetry, before transferring to the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in the late 1930s.

Dorothy Wirtz studied French and German while in college and wrote home to her parents regularly. She graduated with a B.A. in French in 1939. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D in French at the University of Wisconsin by 1944. Wirtz then taught French to military police at the University of Minnesota. By 1950, Wirtz, her parents, and her brother had all settled in Arizona. There, she embarked on a career in public service. From 1952-1959 she served on the Arizona Tax Commission and as the Deputy Treasurer of Arizona.

In 1958, she returned to academia as a professor of French at the University of Arizona where she remained until her retirement in 1973. As a retiree, Wirtz travelled the world, visiting nearly every continent with alumni tours through the Universities of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Arizona. She also pursued the fine arts by painting, and taking courses through the University of Iowa’s Elderhostel program, which offered courses to adults over 60. Additionally, she sharpened her writing skills for several summers at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Her poetry was published in Latitudes, Faces of the Moon, and Women’s Voice. Dorothy Wirtz died in 2013.

Warren “Jack” Wirtz graduated from the University of Iowa with a double major in music and French in 1938 and continued his studies at the Eastman School of Music in New York. Warren Wirtz pursued a career as a composer, piano teacher, and music critic for the Minneapolis Times. From 1946-1949, he honed his craft in Paris, France. By 1950 he had returned to the United States and moved to Arizona. He lived with his sister and parents, composing music, writing poetry, and teaching piano until his death in 1972.


14.38 Linear Feet

Photographs in Box 1 and Box 14, 1 videocassette [V544] shelved in videocassette collection; additional AV in Box 14 boxes

Language of Materials



Brother and sister from Keokuk, Iowa who attended the State University of Iowa and pursued careers as a composer and French professor, respectively.

Method of Acquisition

The Dorothy and Warren Wirtz papers (donor no. 181) were donated by Dorothy Wirtz in 1996 and 2004, by Grinnell College in 2008, and by Roxey Bowers in 2014.

Related Materials

Dorothy Wirtz Papers, Arizona State University: Oral History Interview: Dorothy Wirtz (405), University of Wisconsin, Madison

Randel W. Lackore, 1997. Anna Tunnicliff, 2016
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)