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Schramm, James S.



  • Existence: 1904-1980


James Siegmund Schramm was born in Burlington, Iowa, on February 4, 1904. He attended public schools in Burlington before traveling east to study at Amherst College. In 1924, he returned home and joined the J. S. Schramm Company, which his grandfather had established in 1845. With his brother Frank, James S. Schramm managed the family's retail business, Schramm's Department Store, from 1934 until retiring in 1962. It is believed that this store had the longest continuous operating record under one family of any store west of New England. It was still family owned when it closed in 1996.

Schramm's two major activities, outside of the business, were Republican politics and art collecting. Beginning on the local level as a precinct chairman, Schramm quickly became a force within Iowa's Republican Party. In 1950, he was appointed Iowa's GOP Finance Chairman. This position led to the chairmanship of the State Central Committee. He also served as a delegate to National Conventions.

James Schramm and his wife, Dorothy, were active in the arts. As collectors, they were interested in American, European, and Japanese painting and sculpture and African sculpture. They helped establish the Iowa Arts and the Burlington Area Art Councils. James Schramm was president of the American Federation of Arts in the 1950s and of the Des Moines Art Center in 1963. He was also a trustee of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.

Other activities in which James Schramm participated included such civic groups as the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, the school board, and the Community Chest. He also served nationally on trade missions to France and Japan. James S. Schramm died in 1980 at the age of seventy-six.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

James S. Schramm Papers

Identifier: MsC0354

Business executive, Republican Party official, and art collector. Correspondence, speeches, subject files, etc. combine to document Schramm's business and political affairs, as well as his activities in the arts.

Dates: 1932-1979