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Earl E. Harper Papers

Identifier: RG99.0316

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Scope and Contents

The Earl E. Harper papers include correspondence, speeches, lecture notes, clippings, and photographs. These papers document Harper's service as director of the School of Fine Arts and director of the Iowa Memorial Union from 1938 to 1963. This collection includes programs of the speakers who appeared at the IMU through the University Lecture Series during these years. Programs for musical entertainment recitals and performances, which were held at the Iowa Memorial Union, are included. Church programs are included on occasions when Harper either conducted a choir or spoke to a congregation.


  • Creation: 1923-1966


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

Earl Enyeart Harper was born on March 28, 1895, in Coffey, Missouri. After graduating from high school in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, in 1912, Harper became a lecturer in Chautauqua circuits in the United States and Canada in order to earn money for college. He received his B. A. from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1918 and the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) degree from Boston University in 1921.

After graduation he served as pastor of the Centenary Methodist Church at Auburndale, Massachusetts, from 1921 to 1927. By 1955, Harper had conducted Methodist festivals across the nation. In 1927 he was named the second president of Evansville College (now the University of Evansville) in Indiana, where he served for nine years. He completed graduate work at Harvard University and at the University of Chicago and received a number of honorary degrees. Harper taught at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, in 1932 and was president there from 1936 to 1938.

On July 1, 1938, Harper was named director and professor of the State University of Iowa School of Fine Arts and director of the Iowa Memorial Union. He succeeded Rufus H. Fitzgerald, who left that office in February 1938. Harper viewed the student union as a cultural center and founded the annual summer Fine Arts Festival in 1939, a celebration of theatre dramas, musical works, and visual art. Harper served as president of the Association of College Unions from 1956 to 1957. He is the author of numerous books on the subject of church music. He retired in 1963 and served as administrative consultant in planning the fine arts campus along the Iowa River.

Harper married Clara Fern Lieber and they had three children, Hugh, Shirley, and Craig. Earl Harper died on March 1, 1967.


3.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Director of the School of Fine Arts and director of the Iowa Memorial Union, 1938 to 1963. Correspondence, speeches, clippings, photographs.

Method of Acquisition

These papers were donated to University Archives by Mrs. Earl E. Harper in September 1975. Finding aid posted to the Internet July 2010.

Related Materials

Folder, "Harper, Earl E.," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG01.0015.003)

Papers of Rufus H. Fitzgerald (RG99.0315)

Records of the Fine Arts Festival (RG11.0002.001)

Records of the Iowa Memorial Union (RG24.0004.001)

Denise Anderson, July 2010
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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