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Tate, Elizabeth Crawford, 1906-1999



Landlord, lab supervisor, actor, and volunteer, Elizabeth "Bettye" Crawford Tate was born in Fairfield, Iowa, in 1906. Tate spent her childhood in Fairfield. Following her high school graduation in 1926, she worked one year at Lake Okoboji. In the 1930s Tate married Junious "Bud" Tate. The couple moved to Iowa City, where Bud Tate operated a janitorial service that catered to downtown stores. Bettye Tate had one son, Dennis, and an adopted daughter, Candace.

The Tates were one of only a few African-American families in Iowa City in the 1930s. Because African-American students were not allowed to live in university housing at that time, the Tates opened their home on Prentiss Street as a boarding house for male students in 1938. In 1939 the Tate Arms boarding house moved to 914 South Dubuque Street. "Ma" Tate, as her boarders called her, housed up to twenty tenants at a time. Tate Arms remained open for more than thirty years. Tate worked for twenty-two years at the University of Iowa Hospital's cardiovascular lab. She began as a clinical technician, but by the time of her retirement in 1976 had been promoted to supervisor with her own office and twenty subordinates.

Two of Tate's hobbies were traveling and acting. Tate toured Europe, South America, and the United States; in 1973 she visited the former Union Soviet Socialist Republics on a trip sponsored by the Center for the Study of Socialist Education at Kent State University in Ohio. Acting was an activity that Tate shared with her son, Dennis, a professional Broadway and Hollywood performer. Tate was a charter member of the Iowa City Community Theater, where she sold advertising, sat on the board of directors and took part in various productions. Though not a student, Tate was often recruited to perform in university theatrical productions.

After retirement, Tate became an active volunteer. She was honored for devoting more than one thousand hours of volunteer service to the University Hospitals and Clinics in 1994. In 1991 Tate was honored as a volunteer docent at the Old Capitol for the more than five hundred hours of service she provided.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Elizabeth "Bettye" Crawford Tate papers

Identifier: IWA0266

Owner and operator of the Tate Arms, a boarding house for African American male students at the University of Iowa during the 1940s and 1950s.

Dates: 1932-1999