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Edith Reed Atkinson papers

Identifier: IWA0251

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Scope and Contents

The Edith Reed Atkinson papers date from 1935 to 1997 and measure 2 linear inches, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1986 to 1997. The papers consist primarily of biographical information and correspondence, along with a few performance programs and announcements, a badge and ribbon, a small amount of material relating to the 1997 Woman of the Year Award (Linn County Women's Equality Day), and a photograph.

The biographical information consists of newspaper clippings and publications, most of which include feature articles about Atkinson. Correspondence consists primarily of letters and cards of thanks that Atkinson received from individuals following her performances and lectures. Two feature profiles about Atkinson, one of which appeared in a 1940 edition of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, may also be found in this material, accompanying the June 22, 1990 letter from writer James De Long to Atkinson.

A badge and ribbon indicating Atkinson's participation as a speaker in a 1992 Senior Issues Conference is included in the collection. Materials documenting Atkinson's receipt of a 1997 Woman of the Year Award as part of Linn County Women's Equality Day are comprised of an award-notification letter, a newspaper clipping that previews the event, and a flyer. The event commemorated the 77th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. A photograph dated 1935 of Edith Reed Atkinson performing with her brother, Cecil A. Reed, constitutes the remainder of the collection.


  • Creation: 1935-1997


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some 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 the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Edith Reed Atkinson, a classically trained singer and former editor of instruction books, bids, proposals, and production scheduler, was born May 24, 1919, in Davenport, Iowa. She was the youngest of eight children. Her family settled in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when she was a toddler. As a child, she studied voice for fourteen years and from 1935 to 1944 performed in the Gold Flashes dance trio with her brothers, Wallace and Cecil Reed. In 1939, Edith Reed enrolled in Coe College to study foreign languages to further develop her operatic phrasing. She left college in 1940 to marry Robert Atkinson, with whom she later had two children.

For thirty years, she served as the choir director at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cedar Rapids. Beginning in 1943, Edith Atkinson had a radio show on local station WMT for a time, during which she sang requests. She also performed for such celebrities as Nat King Cole during the dinner hour. In 1952, Atkinson began working as a typist of Spanish instruction books in the editing department of Collins Radio (now part of Rockwell International). She retired as a production scheduler in 1981.

Since her retirement, Atkinson has continued to teach people about African-American history through her music. In 1997, she received a Woman of the Year Award in celebration of Linn County Women's Equality Day.


2.00 linear inches

Language of Materials



Singer and radio-script editor from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Atkinson performed in a song-and-dance act with her brothers Wallace and Cecil Reed from 1935 to 1944.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 351) were donated by Edith Atkinson in 1996.

Related Publications

Reed, Cecil A. Fly in the Buttermilk: The Life Story of Cecil Reed.

Iowa City, Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 1993. Located in University of Iowa Special Collections (Iowa Authors and University Archives) and in the main collection: F621.R34 1993.

Reed is Atkinson's brother.

Kristen Rassbach, 1997, and Kathryn M. Neal, 1998. [AtkinsonEdith.doc]
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)