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Adele Fuchs papers

Identifier: IWA1174

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Scope and Contents

The Adele Fuchs papers date from 1884 to 1990 and measure 6 linear inches. The papers are arranged into two series: Biographical and Writings.

The Biographical series (1980s-1990) includes the book, Prophetic Sisterhood: Liberal Women Ministries of the Frontier, 1880-1930, by historian Cynthia Grant Tucker, and the notes that Tucker made throughout the research process for this book. The book provides an overview of who Adele Fuchs was in relation to Mary A. Safford and the network of women-led ministries that she directed and includes some quotations from Fuchs’ diaries and correspondence. Tucker’s notes and comments that she made during her research process can be found on photocopies of Fuchs’ papers. Tucker’s notes also frame Fuchs’ personal papers and diaries by including a timeline of Fuchs’ life.

The Writings series (1884-1935) includes some of Adele Fuchs’ personal papers and correspondence to Mary Safford and consists of four diaries kept by Fuchs from February of 1885 to September of 1935. Fuchs’ papers range from 1884 to 1934 and include overviews of each month for the years 1889 to 1917, as well as a large amount of her correspondence with Safford. This correspondence reflects the unique nature of Fuchs and Safford’s relationship, and overall, Fuchs’ papers provide an intimate and detailed perspective into not only Fuchs’ personal life and relationships, but also into the complex women’s social networks that made up the liberal women ministries and the women’s suffrage movement. Both Fuchs’ correspondence and her diaries provide details pertaining to her many trips to Europe, to her careers as a doctor and a school teacher in Des Moines and Sioux City, and to her daily activities as an active member in Safford’s church and in the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Many historical events, figures, and topics are touched upon in Fuchs’ correspondence and diaries such as when Fuchs visited Jane Addams and the Hull House in 1907, when she commented on a growing presence of Anti-Semitism while she was in Germany in 1899, or when she experienced World War I on the German Homefront while she was visiting Germany in 1915 to 1916. Fuchs’ correspondence and diaries also give an intimate view into her mental health for she explicitly writes when she is suffering from bouts of depression. For example, in several letters to Safford, Fuchs writes how she hopes that the “blue devils” stay away and reflects upon previous times in which her depression was severe. It should be noted that the diaries are not entirely consistent in daily entries, and in the last diary especially there are large gaps of time not written about from the years 1923 to 1935.


  • Creation: 1884-1990


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

Adele Fuchs was born in 1862 to Dr. John and Mathilde Fuchs in Madison, Wisconsin. She was the youngest of five children. Fuchs’ parents immigrated to the United States in 1851 and both came from affluent families in Germany. Dr. John Fuchs was a professor at the University of Wisconsin at the time of Adele Fuchs’ birth, and was later a doctor and surgeon in Chicago. When Fuchs was twelve, her mother was placed in a sanitorium in Madison for severe depression. In 1876, when Fuchs was fourteen years old, her mother committed suicide. Her father passed away suddenly a year later in 1877. Fuchs then lived with the Hipman Family in Chicago until she graduated from high school in 1879. Following her high school graduation, Fuchs moved to Sioux City, Iowa to live with her two older brothers, Albert and Wilhelm Fuchs.

Shortly after moving to Sioux City, Fuchs began her teaching career and taught at multiple country schools in the surrounding area of Sioux City. In 1885, Fuchs journeyed to Europe with her friend, Lib Perkins, to study music and traveled from July of 1885 to August of 1887. Once she returned from Europe, Fuchs continued teaching in Sioux City and taught German at the high school level. Fuchs was accredited for starting the German program in the Sioux City school system. In 1889, Fuchs joined the Unitarian Church that Mary A. Safford founded in Sioux City and became very active in not only the church, but also in Safford’s community of female liberal ministers and their fight for women’s suffrage. Safford and Fuchs grew a very close bond during this time that would last for decades, and Safford moved in with Fuchs and Perkins in 1891.

In 1893, Fuchs began attending medical school in Iowa City and graduated from the State University of Iowa Medical School, now referred to as the University of Iowa, in 1897. Fuchs practiced medicine in Iowa City following graduation until January of 1899 when she traveled to Germany with her friend, Mabel Ruddell. After returning to home from Europe in December of 1899, Fuchs practiced medicine in Sioux City until 1902 when she moved to Des Moines to practice medicine with Dr. Edith Losines. Fuchs also relocated to Des Moines to be rejoined with Safford and Perkins who had moved to Des Moines to start another church while Fuchs was in Europe. In 1904, Fuchs began practicing medicine and teaching at the same time, and in 1905, Fuchs stopped practicing medicine to become a full-time German teacher in Des Moines.

Fuchs left for Germany in June of 1915 until March of 1916 where she cared for her mentally ill cousin and witnessed the strain that World War I placed on the German people. Her position as a teacher in the Des Moines school system was threatened due to her ties to Germany, which led her to leave Germany early. Following her return, Fuchs was faced with anti-German sentiments. She was ostracized from a large portion of her friend group for the remainder of the war. Fuchs continued to teach German in Des Moines throughout the war and continued to be involved in the Iowa Women’s Suffrage Movement and Safford’s churches. From the years 1919 to 1934, Fuchs constantly traveled around Florida, California, Illinois, the New England area, and Germany. Safford was repeatedly ill throughout the 1920s and Fuchs often cared for her until Safford passed away in 1927 in Orlando, Florida. Fuchs passed away in 1955 in Orlando, Florida.


10.00 linear inches

Language of Materials



German-American doctor, teacher, and suffragette who lived in Sioux City and Des Moines from 1879 to the late 1930s.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1547) were donated by Cynthia Grant Tucker in 2018.

Related Materials

Professional Women’s League (Des Moines, Iowa) records: Two of Fuchs’ close friends, Mary Safford and Marie Jeney, were involved in this organization. Fuchs also mentioned speaking at the League’s meetings in some of her correspondence and diary entries.

Iowa Suffrage Memorial Commission records

Adele Fuchs
Bailey Petersen
Language of description
Script of description

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)