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Homer Calkin Papers

Identifier: MsC0504

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Scope and Contents

The Homer L. Calkin Papers consist of 21 linear feet of manuscripts, dating from 1897-1996. The collection is organized into seven major divisions: 1) Career, 2) Publications, 3) Methodist Church files, 4) Personal papers, 5) Photographs, 6) Slides, and 7) Personal Objects/Oversized material. Within each series the material is arranged chronologically unless otherwise indicated.
Notation: VII:1:2 = Series VII, Box 1, Folder 2. This is a cross-listed item and indicates its actual location in the collection.
Series I consists of career items, mainly related to his time spent in the military and working for the Department of State, including his book Women in the State Department: Their Role in American Foreign Affairs. All publications included in this series are cross-listed with Series II.
Series II contains all of HLC's publications and related materials, including cross-listed publications located in Series I and III. Correspondence concerning publications and a general research file are also included in this series.
Series III is comprised of Methodist materials, divided into two subseries. The first contains Foundry Methodist Church materials including HLC's book Castings from the Foundry Mold. The second subseries consists of National/International Methodist materials, including the NEH grant for HLC's project on cataloguing Methodist manuscripts worldwide. The final product, Methodist archival and manuscript collections, is available in Special Collections but is not housed with this collection (x-collection Z6611.M55 C2). All publications included in this series are cross-listed with Series II.
Series IV consists of HLC's personal papers, divided into three subseries: personal papers, correspondence, and genealogical materials. The first two boxes of his personal papers contain scrapbook binders, which provide a general overview of his life from 1930-1985 as they include personal, Department of State, and Methodist items. Genealogical items are arranged alphabetically at the end of the series.
Series V is made up of photographs: one box of family photos and one box of travel photos. Series VI contains more than 15,000 color slides taken by HLC from 1948-1983. Most are slides of historic or tourist attractions as HLC traveled frequently within New England and Canada. There is also a large quantity of international slides, taken when he traveled for the State Department or for his Methodist research projects. Detailed slide lists written by HLC for the first seven boxes and boxes 22-23 can be found at the beginning of Series VII, Box 1, folders 1-2. All other slides were unlabeled and have been determined as specifically as possible, using HLC's appointment books and diaries, in addition to other resources.
Series VII comprises both oversized materials, which have been cross-listed within their proper series, and a few personal objects: his childhood alphabet blocks and a handmade ark, a pencil box from grade school, and his high school class ring; military dogtags, ribbons, and arm bands; Methodist Church convention badges; and lapel pins representing organizations to which he belonged. Series VIII contains materials related to Mary Calkin. Series IX is a chronological slide index. DD refers to the date developed. This date was used to situate the slides chronologically. Series X is an indexed list of geographical location and subjects. This list is not exhaustive but does provide an overview and mentions identifiable monuments and buildings. Please check the surrounding area in the corresponding slide box for other relevant slides, including unidentified sites and daily scenes.


  • Creation: 1897-1996


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Homer Leonard Calkin was born on May 5, 1912, in Clearfield, Iowa. He attended Simpson College for two years (1931-1933) before transferring to the University of Iowa. He finished his education at Iowa, earning a B.A. in history in 1935 and later both an M.A. (1936) and a Ph.D. (1939) in British history. On July 2, 1938, Homer Calkin married Corrine Reynolds (who died July 9, 1969). He married Mary Katherine Ferriss Calkin in 1971.

During World War II, Calkin served as a military intelligence officer with the War Department General Staff in Washington, D.C. After the war he worked for the National Archives and Records Service. His career in the State Department began in 1950 when he was hired as chief of the records management staff. Over the next 27 years he held a number of positions within the department, serving as a member of the planning staff for the State Department building and as a management analyst. He was deputy director of the research and reference division of the State Department historian's office when he retired in 1977, but he continued to work after retirement as a consultant preparing histories of women and minorities in the Department of State and the Foreign Service. Calkin published more than fifty articles, numerous book reviews, several hundred abstracts of historical articles, and compiled catalogues of Methodist Church archives. He wrote two books, Women in the Department of State: Their Role in American Foreign Affairs and Castings from the Foundry Mold, and contributed chapters to Those Incredible Methodists. Calkin was published in the United States, France, and Ireland.

Homer Calkin was active in a number of organizations, most of which were focused on history, archives, libraries, and manuscripts. He belonged to the American Historical Association, the Cosmos Club, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Archivists, the Wesley Historical Society, and the World Methodist Historical Society. Calkin kept close ties to the University of Iowa. He was a member of the President's Club and served on the board of the Friends of the University of Iowa Libraries. In 1984, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award. He was also very active in the United Methodist Church on local, national and international fronts. His history of Foundry Chuch on its sesquicentenary anniversary, Castings from the Foundry Mold, serves as a model for historical church writing.

Homer L. Calkin died on June 5, 1995, of a heart attack at his home in Arlington, Virginia. He was 83 years old.


33.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Historian, archivist, and author. Correspondence files; diaries; memorabilia; scrapbooks dealing with his early life, education, career in the State Department, and work for the Methodist Church.

Method of Acquisition

These papers were donated to the University of Iowa Libraries on and after September 10, 1997 by Homer Calkin's widow, Mary K. Calkin. Several children's books were removed from these papers and cataloged separately for the rare book collection of the Special Collections Department. Printed ephemera was removed and organized as a separate manuscript collection, MsC 505, The Homer L. Calkin Collection of Printed Ephemera.

Related Materials

For more information related to Homer L. Calkin, please refer to the link under External Documents.

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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)