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Carolyn "Kay" Bucksbaum papers

Identifier: IWA0591

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Scope and Contents

The Carolyn 'Kay' Bucksbaum papers date from 1949 to 1998 and measure 2 linear feet. The papers are arranged in three series: Biographical, Civic activism and Writings.

The Biographical series contains Bucksbaum's 1998 resume, a biographical paper describing three generations of women in her family, a copy of a newspaper article announcing Buckbaum's election as the first woman to chair the Grinnell College Board of Trustees, and two speeches Bucksbaum wrote for events at Grinnell College.

The Civic activism series makes up the bulk of the Bucksbaum papers and is divided into several sub-series: AAUW (American Association of University Women), Jewish community, Des Moines Symphony, Grinnell College, YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association), Young Women's Resource Center, The Iowa Center for the Book, Planned Parenthood, League of Women Voters and Proteus Club. The Jewish community sub-series includes a history of Iowa Jewry written by Dr. Michael Bell and Temple Sisterhood social actions in which Bucksbaum was involved. The Des Moines Symphony has quite a bit of information on fundraising efforts spearheaded by Bucksbaum, including a series of successful needlework shows. Bucksbaum's efforts for the Des Moines Symphony were considered pivotal and lasting.

The Grinnell College sub-series includes two folders of information on the I Have a Dream Foundation. There is also the text for Bucksbaum's 1973 speech, 'Directions: The Year 2001, or, For What Kind of Society Are We Educating Men and Women?' The YWCA sub-series contains information from Bucksbaum's participation on the Women of Achievement steering committee, including nominations for Ann Green Anderson, Mary Louise Smith and Joan Lipsky.

The League of Women Voters (LWV) sub-series includes several documents pertaining to the Des Moines chapter of the League of Women Voters successful efforts in 1949 to change Des Moines' mayoral system to a city manager system. The documents include studies, questionnaires and workshop materials used by the Des Moines League during the initial campaign to change the municipal government system and as review measures in the following years. Also included in the LWV sub-series are documents from the organization's state level: state program planning, legislative studies and the League's position regarding the 1959-1960 Iowa Constitutional Convention. A 1953 paper on individual liberties was written by the Iowa City LWV chapter, a project chaired by Helen Lemme.

The Proteus Club sub-series includes several of the papers Bucksbaum presented to the group over a ten-year span. Also included are the Agriculture reference files Bucksbaum collected while researching for her paper, 'There Goes the Family Farm.' These files contain articles, brochures, and correspondence, along with information from the International Food Policy Research Institute and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

The Writings series contains a variety of samples of Bucksbaum's authorial skills, including book reviews, letters to the editor, articles, poetry and fiction. One piece, 'Get the Whole Town Talking!' describes the first outdoor art fair held in Marshalltown, Iowa.


  • Creation: 1949-1998


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

Carolyn Swartz, known by her nickname Kay, was born in Des Moines, Iowa on February 17, 1929 to Mose Swartz and Ethelyn Cohen Swartz. She was educated at Hubbell elementary and Roosevelt junior and senior high schools in Des Moines, graduating from high school in 1947. Swartz then attended her father's alma mater Grinnell College, where she majored in English and journalism and edited the college newspaper before graduating with honors in 1951.

Following a 700-mile bicycle trip in Europe, Swartz was working on the executive training program of the Meredith Publishing Company in Des Moines when she met Matthew Bucksbaum of Marshalltown, Iowa. The couple married within the year and Kay Bucksbaum became a homemaker in Marshalltown. A daughter, Ann Louise Bucksbaum, was born in 1954 in Marshalltown. The family moved to Cedar Rapids, building the state's first shopping mall in 1955, where a son, John Louis Bucksbaum was born. In 1959 the family moved to Bettendorf and built Duck Creek Plaza. In 1964 the family relocated to Des Moines and formed the basis of the publicly held real estate development company that became General Growth.

Formative experiences for Bucksbaum included summer camp counseling for five years in various parts of the country, a number of American Athletic Union state swimming championships, and continuous membership in the League of Women Voters from her college days onward. Bucksbaum served as president of the League of Women Voters of Scott County, Iowa and vice-president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa. She has served as both president and as a board member for the Des Moines Symphony Association, chairman and trustee on the Grinnell College Board of Trustees, vice-president of the Jewish Welfare Federation, a board member for Des Moines United Way, a board member for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, a board member for DanceAspen, and a trustee for the Des Moines Art Center. Bucksbaum has also served as the first "outside" director for the Des Moines Register and Tribune Company, director of Hawkeye Cablevision, president of the Grinnell Communications Corporation, vice-president and board member for the Foundation in National Public Radio, and a founder of Friends of Iowa Educational Broadcasting.


2.00 Linear Feet

Photographs in Box 2 boxes

Language of Materials



Civic activist involved in the Jewish community, the Des Moines symphony, the League of Women Voters, and the Proteus Club.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 730) were donated by Kay Bucksbaum in 2000.

Related Materials

League of Women Voters, Des Moines records (IWA)

League of Women Voters ,Iowa records (IWA)

Louise Noun papers (IWA)

Proteus Club records (IWA)

Kay Stroud papers (IWA)

YWCA records (IWA)


Deborah Lazar, 2003 and Lisa Mott, 2003.
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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)