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Gerber, Margaret Wilbourn, 1913-1996



  • Existence: 1913 - 1996


Margaret Wilbourn Gerber, clubwoman and activist, was born in Morgantown, West Virginia, in 1913 to Russell and Elizabeth Wilbourn. She attended Morgantown High School, graduating in 1930. Wilbourn earned her BA from the University of West Virginia in 1934 and her MA in personnel administration from Columbia University in 1935. She began teaching at Alderson-Broaddus College in West Virginia in 1935, and accepted a position as director of personnel and sociology professor at Judson College in Alabama in 1936. In 1940, Wilbourn moved to Chicago, where she worked for the Metropolitan YMCA. There, she met John C. Gerber, an English professor whom she married in 1941.

In 1944, the Gerbers moved to Iowa City, Iowa. In 1976, they moved to Albany, New York, but they returned to Iowa City in 1984. There, Gerber raised two daughters, Anne and Barbara. John Gerber, after whom the Gerber Lounge in the University of Iowa's English-Philosophy Building is named, was hired as an English professor at the University of Iowa. Margaret Gerber was a member in several local clubs, including the Raphael Club, the Nineteenth Century Club, the Hiking Club, the Dancing Club, and Mortar Board Alumnae. A one-time president of the Johnson County Democratic Women's Club, Gerber attended the inaugural festivities for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and for Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Gerber's community work included helping to organize the Friends of the University of Iowa Museum of Art and acting as chairman of the museum's Women's Membership Committee. She was an early member of the Iowa division of the American Association for the United Nations (later called the United Nations Association of the USA), and pioneered the sale of UNICEF cards in Iowa City in the 1950s. Gerber hosted Eleanor Roosevelt in her home during Roosevelt's visit to Iowa City in 1957. Gerber passed away in Iowa City in 1996.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Margaret Wilbourn Gerber papers

Identifier: IWA0520

Clubwoman and activist who lived in Chicago, Albany, New York, and Iowa City.

Dates: 1923-2003