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William O. Aydelotte Papers

Identifier: RG99.0093

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Scope and Contents

This collection documents the professional career of Dr. William O. Aydelotte, professor of history from 1947 to 1978 at the University of Iowa. Lecture notes, speeches, publications, correspondence, and Department of History reports and minutes are included. These papers also contain Dr. Aydelotte's publications reviews, and document his participation in history conferences, committees and councils.Dr. Aydelotte was a prolific writer, and preserved his notes about everything from a 1924 meeting of the home room boys during his tenth grade, to the diaries he kept over a sixty-year period, to his vacation in Ireland, and to notes on the meetings of the Know-Nothing Club -- a group of University of Iowa professors who met informally, with no official minutes recorded. Dr. Aydelotte classified and indexed his major research notes, and filed them in a dozen card catalog drawers, as noted in the box list below.

The focus of Dr. Aydelotte's research, in the area of political science, was the British Parliament. Such research topics are represented as the Victorian reformation, social attitudes in the work of Charles Dickens, politics in detective stories, as well as his research about using computers to analyze research statistics. Dr. Aydelotte maintained detailed files on subjects that interested him, such as the Latin hexameter verse machine, exhibited in London during 1845.This collection includes some material about Dr. Aydelotte's family. Box 58 contains information about his father, Frank (1880-1956), who was president of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania from 1921 to 1940. Genealogical material about William O. Aydelotte's Irish cousins is housed in box 52.

Dr. Aydelotte was diagnosed with tuberculosis in September 1950, and he recorded the course of treatment he received at Oakdale Sanatorium, as well as descriptions of the facility, in nearly daily letters to his mother and brother during a nine-month period. These letters are arranged in chronological order in box 70.


  • Creation: 1924-1996


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

William Osgood Aydelotte was born September 1, 1910, in Bloomington, Indiana. His parents were Marie Jeannette Osgood and Frank Aydelotte, who were Quakers. William O. Aydelotte graduated from Harvard University, with a major in classics in 1931. He took his Ph.D. in history at the University of Cambridge, England, in 1934. He then worked for two years at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in Washington, D.C. Dr. Aydelotte held an appointment at the University of Minnesota during the summer of 1937. Over the next ten years, he taught at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; and Princeton University.

Dr. Aydelotte joined the faculty at the University of Iowa Department of History in fall 1947 as assistant professor. He and others immediately began work to reform the department. Dr. Aydelotte served as chairman of this committee, replacing Professor Winfred Root, who died December 9, 1947. One result of this reform was the involvement of the entire department in the appointment process. Dr. Aydelotte was promoted to full professor in 1950, with his area of research being political behavior. His studies during the 1950s of the British Parliament of the 1840s garnered him the honor of the Order of the British Empire, received in 1961. He served as Carver Professor of History, 1976 to 1978, and retired from the University in June 1978.

In June 1956, Dr. Aydelotte married Dr. Myrtle Kitchell, who became the first director of the College of Nursing in September 1949. They had two daughters, Marie and Jeannette. William O. Aydelotte died January 17, 1996.


99.00 Linear Feet


University of Iowa professor of history, 1947-1996. One of the first historians elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Method of Acquisition

These materials were donated to the University Archives by Mr. and Mrs. Aydelotte in August 1994.

Related Materials

Folder, "Aydelotte, William O. ," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG01.0015.003)

Persons, Stow. "History at Iowa: The First Century, 1855-1948." Iowa City, 1996. 21 pp., Historical Papers Collection (RG01.0001.003)

Persons, Stow. "History at Iowa: The Modern Era." Iowa City, 1996. 24 pp., Historical Papers Collection (RG01.0001.003)

Papers of Stow Persons (RG99.0104)

Papers of Allan G. Bogue (RG99.0103)

Papers of Harry Plum (RG99.0107)

Records of the Dept. of History (RG06.0017.001)

The University of Iowa Libraries Dept. of Government Publications. British Parliament publications.

Know-Nothing Club, Organizations and Clubs Vertical Files (RG01.0015.004)

Records of the Oakdale Sanatorium (RG27.0020.001)

Oakdale Campus Buildings vertical file (RG01.0015.002)

Papers of Frank Aydelotte (MsC0232)

Papers of Myrtle Kitchell Aydelotte, Iowa Women's Archives

National Academy of Sciences. Biographical Memoirs.

Denise Anderson, July 2007
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242