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James S. Schramm Papers

Identifier: MsC0354

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Scope and Contents

The papers of James S. Schramm are organized into seven series: 1) Correspondence; 2) Personal Papers; 3) Speeches; 4) Politics; 5) Organizations; 6) Trade; and 7) Art. Correspondence files are arranged alphabetically; however, additional letters are scattered throughout the collection. Some correspondents include Robert K. Goodwin, Edith Gregor Halpert, Dwight Kirsch, David Kruidemer, Jr., George Nagle, and Sinclair Weeks. The personal papers series primarily relates to Schramm's military service. The Speeches series is not distinct, and like the correspondence series, additional speeches are found elsewhere in the papers.

The Politics Series includes political correspondence and speeches. There are also more than six boxes of materials relating to Republican politics. More specifically, there are folders on topics ranging from Lincoln Day Dinners to Central Committee finances and on people such as Gerald Bogan, Thomas C. Murphy, King R. Palmer, and Nelson A. Rockefeller. The Organizations series documents Schramm's association with such divergent groups as the Iowa Economic Studies Council and Amherst College to the Governor's Commission on Human Rights and the Museum of Contemporary Art. There are also four boxes of material relating to U.S. trade missions and the Committee for a National Trade Policy. Included here are speeches, correspondence, policy manuals, and other materials.


  • Creation: 1932-1979


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. This collection is housed at an offsite location. Please allow two-three business days for retrieval and arrival to main library.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections & Archives as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

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.


10.71 Linear Feet (28 containers)

Language of Materials



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.

Method of Acquisition

James S. Schramm donated his papers to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1972.

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Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)