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Lois Thor papers

Identifier: IWA1259

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Scope and Contents

The Lois C. Thor papers date from 1903 to 2002 and measure 30 linear inches over 6 boxes. The papers are arranged in 4 series: Personal (1939-1993), Education (1909-1976), Professional (1950-1967) and Correspondence (1903-1997). The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence from the 1930s, around the time Lois Thor started college.

The Personal series consist of material from Lois Thor’s childhood such as a book titled Buds and Blossoms and a 4-H booklet. This series contains family information including her father’s will and documents about the family’s move due to the canalization of the Mississippi. Also, in the Personal series, there is a diary from 1949 in which Thor described events from her daily life like New Year’s Eve parties, social club meetings and her first-time using laundry services. Closing out this series is Lois Thor’s paper dolls and Valentine’s Day cards, over 100 paper dolls and over 20 Valentine’s Day cards.

The Education series covers materials pertaining to Thor’s scholastic journey. Items include her high school graduation program, 1942 diploma from Iowa State University and pamphlet from the ceremony. Closing out this series are report cards and other school documents.

The Professional series is comprised only of appointment calendars from 1950-1967 except for 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955 and 1960.

The Correspondence series is the bulk of the collection. Most of the letters were addressed to Thor in the 1930s, while she attended Iowa State University. Additionally, this series holds seasonal postcards and undated correspondence.


  • Creation: 1909-2002


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor.

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

Lois Jane Crasper Thor was born on April 18, 1918 in Clinton, Iowa, and raised on her family’s farm. She was the daughter of Alva Crasper and Louise Dorothea Bucher. During her childhood she was a part of the 4-H club. In her childhood, Thor made handmade cards and had an abundance of paper dolls. According to the National Women’s History Museum, paper dolls were popular playthings from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. Twentieth-century paper dolls’ wardrobes expanded the various potential roles for girls, from college student to movie star to World War II WAC. In this, they reflected an expanded horizon of women’s opportunities that aligned with what women were doing in real life.

Approximately in 1937, Thor entered Iowa State University (ISU). She had worked as a secretary for the Rock Island Arsenal in the Quad Cities while living in Tipton, Iowa until she started college. In 1942, she graduated from ISU with a bachelor’s degree in Textiles and Clothing.

After graduation Lois Thor moved near Los Angeles where she worked as a secretary for Douglas Aircraft. There, she met Murner Thor. The two would marry and have four sons, one of whom would die in childhood. The Thors settled in Naperville, Illinois in 1963. While raising her children there, Thor volunteered as a 4-H Club leader, Scout troop leader, after-school tutor, and Sunday school teacher. Lois Thor and Murner Thor divorced in the early 1970s.

Thor later moved to the Pebblewood condominiums in Naperville, Illinois and became highly involved in the community there with new hobbies and organizations. She became an environmentalist and a member of the Sierra Club. She volunteered over 300 hours as a Braille typist, translating textbooks. She took up dancing, participating in ballroom dance competitions through Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Naperville and became a member of the Naper Squares, a square-dancing group in Naperville.

In 2000, Thor moved to an assisted living facility. Thor died on March 17, 2002 due to complications from Alzheimer's disease in Brighton Gardens, Wheaton, Illinois.


2.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Iowa State University student and braille typist originally from Clinton, Iowa.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1398) were donated by Eric Thor in 2015.

Lois C. Thor papers
Erik Henderson
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)