Skip to main content

Persons, Stow



  • Existence: 1913-2006


Stow Spaulding Persons was born June 15, 1913, in Mt. Carmel, Connecticut. Persons received his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history at Yale University in 1936 and 1940. He taught history at Princeton University from 1940 until 1950, when he joined the faculty at the State University of Iowa as professor of history. William O. Aydelotte, who was named head of the SUI Department of History in 1948, worked with Persons and other faculty to strengthen the department through additional faculty appointments and through improvements in the appointment process. Persons also developed an American intellectual history program and two of his lectures were broadcast on WSUI radio, in September 1961 and in June 1962. He supervised 38 doctoral dissertations.   Persons served on the Liberal Arts Educational Policy Committee as well as the Executive Committee. During his service on the Graduate Council, Persons proposed the establishment of a Research Council, through the Old Gold Fund, for presenting research awards. His proposal was supported by President Virgil M. Hancher, who later appointed Persons to serve for two years as acting dean of the Graduate College, until John Weaver was named graduate dean and vice president for research in fall 1962. In addition, Persons served as chair of the Faculty Senate for the 1969-1970 academic year, during the student protests of the Vietnam War. Persons presided over the Senate meeting held in the Old Dental auditorium where, by a narrow margin, the Senate voted that the University should end the ROTC contract with the U. S. government. Despite the outcome of this vote, the contract was continued by President Howard R. Bowen.   Persons was named the Carver Professor of History in 1978, an honor earlier bestowed upon William O. Aydelotte. After his retirement in 1981, Persons was honored by his former students with the publication of a festschrift in 1982, Ideas in America's Cultures from Republic to Mass Society. During his retirement, Persons continued to write about the history of various University of Iowa departments, as well as a history of the University, The University of Iowa in the Twentieth Century: An Institutional History.   Persons married Dorothy Reuss of Aurora, Illinois, on September 4, 1943 and they had one daughter, Catherine. Dorothy was appointed librarian at the University of Illinois and Ohio State University, before serving as librarian of the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1942. In Iowa City, Dorothy was a metal jewelry artist. Dorothy died in June 2011. Stow Persons died January 6, 2006.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Stow Persons Papers

Identifier: RG99.0104

Professor and head of the Department of History 1948-1981. Chair of Faculty Senate 1969-1970, during student protests of the Vietnam War. Correspondence and committe records.

Dates: 1943-2005