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Conn, Gladys, 1910-2005



  • Existence: 1910 - 2005


Social worker Gladys Trailer Conn was born in 1910 in Marne, Iowa to Frank Holcomb and Elma Graves Trailer. She was eleven when her father Frank Trailer, a respected farmer in Marne, Iowa died at the age of 46 in 1921. Elma Trailer remarried within a year, and after being widowed for a second time ten years later, remarried a third and final time.

Gladys Trailer attended grade school in Marne, Iowa and completed junior and senior high school in Atlantic, Iowa. She received her bachelor's degree in sociology from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in 1933. She later moved to Chicago, Illinois to work for her uncle and pursue a graduate degree in social work at the University of Chicago. Trailer did not complete her graduate work in Chicago; however, while there she supervised fieldwork for the Unemployment Relief Center and worked for United Charities. After a social worker was murdered in Chicago, Trailer's uncle encouraged her to return to Burlington, Iowa to marry her college sweetheart, Blythe Conn, who was starting a law practice.

Gladys Trailer married Blythe Conn in 1935. The couple raised two children, Christopher and Meredith. Gladys Conn was employed by a small private agency in Burlington, Iowa, the Social Service League. The Burlington Social Service League was later absorbed by the Des Moines County Mental Health Center, where Conn was employed as a social worker.

During the early 1960s Gladys Conn and her daughter were running the family farm while Blythe Conn served in the Legislature in Des Moines and Chris was a college student at Grinnell College. During a stormy night the horses had run loose leaving Conn and her daughter to chase after them. Conn recalls being fed up with caring for the farm and sold bonds to take a three month trip to Europe with her fifteen year old daughter Meredith in 1961. Their summer travels included stops in England, Finland, Switzerland, and ten days in Russia. Upon returning to Iowa the two gave presentations about their travels to numerous local organizations; Meredith Conn earned 4H credits for speaking to some 1000 people over a year's time. The Conns' son Christopher was killed in a car accident in 1966.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Gladys Conn papers

Identifier: IWA0225

Social worker and State University of Iowa graduate from Marne, Iowa, whose papers include diaries and family correspondence.

Dates: 1868-2001