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Mary Morton Ellsworth papers

Identifier: IWA0534

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Scope and Contents

The Mary Morton Ellsworth papers date from 1833 to 2004 and measure 2.25 linear feet. The collection consists primarily of personal materials relating to Ellsworth's children, family, and friends. It includes an extensive collection of Christmas cards received by Ellsworth over a period of fifty-five years; some cards have notes, letters, or photographs enclosed. The collection also contains Christmas cards sent by Ellsworth, which include an annual letter describing family events. The newspaper clippings include wedding announcements of family members, and the folder on Jonnifer Ellsworth contains papers she wrote in high school. The genealogy folder includes transcriptions of approximately fifteen letters written by Ellsworth's mother's ancestors in the mid-nineteenth century.

The professional materials in the collection consist mainly of several academic papers written by Ellsworth. These include a paper she wrote during her senior year at Ohio Wesleyan University after she was chosen to spend a semester at the Merrill-Palmer Institute in Detroit and her master's thesis. Ellsworth's retirement album includes photographs of many colleagues at the University Counseling Service as well as remembrances of Morton and her work.

The collection includes photographs of Ellsworth's childhood, young adulthood, and years at Oaknoll retirement center, as well as several of the Kirk family, with whom Mary Ellsworth's daughters lived while she recuperated from tuberculosis. A DVD includes home videos of the Ellsworth family Christmas celebrations from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, and footage of the 1956 Veisha parade in Ames, Iowa, and the 1956 Centennial Parade in Des Moines, Iowa.


  • Creation: 1833-2004


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

Mary Morton Ellsworth, a psychometrist, was born in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1916. Morton graduated from Sandusky High School in 1933, then earned a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1937. In 1941, after completing an MA at the University of Michigan, she married Herman Charles Ellsworth in her parents' home in Sandusky. Mary and Charles Ellsworth had two daughters, Ann and Jonnifer ("Jonni"), and the family moved to Ithaca, New York.

Mary Ellsworth was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1948 and recovered at Biggs State Hospital for two years. During that time, her husband was completing a residency at the University of Nebraska in Omaha and her two young daughters lived with a foster family, David and Ruth Kirk. In 1951, the Ellsworth family moved to Cherokee, Iowa, and in 1957, Mary and Charles Ellsworth were divorced. Mary Ellsworth moved to Iowa City with her daughters in 1957 and took additional graduate course work at the University of Iowa.

In 1961, she began work as a psychometrist in the University Counseling Service, where she remained until her retirement in 1981. Ellsworth enjoyed doing genealogical research and belonged to several local organizations such as 4-H and the League of Women Voters. She moved to Oaknoll Retirement Center in 1991 and died in 2004.


2.25 Linear Feet

Photographs in boxes 5-6; 1 DVD [d0047] boxes

Language of Materials



Ohio born psychometrist who divorced in 1957 and moved to Iowa City with her daughters.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 938) were donated by Mary Morton Ellsworth and Jonnifer Ellsworth in 2004 and succeeding years.

June Silliman and Sharon M. Lake, 2008.
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Script of description
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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)