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Lucille Ketchum Carter papers

Identifier: IWA0131

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Scope and Contents

The Lucille Ketchum Carter papers date from 1936 to 2008 and measure 12 linear inches. The personal items in the collection include financial records, correspondence, notes, newspaper clippings, and Carter's handwritten memories of her early childhood and marriage. Materials related to her husband, Congressman Steven V. Carter, include biographical information prepared for his campaign and a description of his collection in the Special Collections Department at the University of Iowa Libraries. Lucille Carter's writings include letters to the editor and essays, many of which emphasize the importance of democracy. Photographs include black and white photocopies of a photograph of Carter with her husband and two sons in the 1940s and of Carter's grandchildren, and a few color snapshots of Carter in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Lucille Carter and her nursing school classmates formed a correspondence club called the Round Robin, and members wrote to each other for over forty years about developments in their personal and professional lives. The collection includes over fifty letters written by Carter to her classmates in which she discusses many topics, including her journey to a new life following her husband's death.

The political items in the collection consist largely of booklets, photographs, invitations, and momentos of events honoring US presidents. Also included is a history of the Congressional Club, which Carter joined when her husband was elected to Congress in 1958. The Congressional Club is a non-political organization formed in 1908 to promote friendship among the wives of the memebers of Congress. Family members of ex-Congress members may retain their membership, which Carter did. The materials on President Clinton include many items related to Hillary Clinton, who Carter served as a volunteer in the Office of First Lady's Correspondence. Carter has affixed handwritten explanations to some of the items in her collection.


  • Creation: 1936-2008


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor and her heirs.

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

Lucille Ketchum Carter, nurse, Democratic Party loyalist, and wife of one-term Iowa Congressman Stephen V. Carter, was born in 1913 in Downing, Missouri, to Matilda and George Ketchum. Lucille Ketchum graduated from high school in 1931 and worked for two years at a medical clinic. In 1936, she graduated from the School of Nursing at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa), where she met her husband. Steven V. Carter earned a JD from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1939 and the Carters moved to Leon, Iowa, where Steven V. Carter opened a legal practice and Lucille Carter raised the couple's two sons, Steven and Charles, in the dream house they built in Leon.

Carter was active in a wide range of community and volunteer activities such as the Red Cross, Cub Scouts, church committees, the Federated Women's Club, and the Democratic Party. Steven V. Carter ran for Congress from Iowa's 4th District several times before winning a seat in 1958. Lucille Carter participated actively in all her husband's campaigns. One year after he was elected, Steven V. Carter died of cancer.

Lucille Carter sold the family house in Leon, Iowa, in 1970 and moved to Washington, DC where she worked as a federal employee for twelve years. She managed the reading room suite for US Congresswomen in the Capitol for three years, and then served in security under the Door Keeper and the House of Representatives. Carter retired in 1981 but remained active in political affairs. She joined the Gold Star Wives of America in 1983, attended many Democratic Party events, and did volunteer work for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who she greatly admired. Carter often contacted political leaders to express her viewpoints on a wide range of topics.


12.00 linear inches

Photographs in Box 1; 1 audiocassette [AC1306] boxes

Language of Materials



1936 graduate of the School of Nursing at the State University of Iowa who was active in Democratic politics and whose correspondence includes round robin letters.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 195) were donated by Lucille Ketchum Carter in 1994 and subsequent years.

Related Materials

Steven V. Carter papers, husband of Lucille Ketchum Carter (Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)

Katherine Price, 1994; June Silliman and Sharon M. Lake, 2007.
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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)