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Alpha Evans papers

Identifier: IWA0605

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Scope and Contents

The Alpha Evans papers date from 1977 to 2001 and measure 3.5 linear inches. They are arranged in three series: Biographical, Professional, and Clayton County Sesquicentennial Committee. They demonstrate the creativity and innovation in rural education.

The Biographical series consists of a ten-page autobiographical account of her activities with state and national education committees. The Professional series includes her Master's thesis "Teacher Oral Reading: Its Potential for Student Attitudes Toward Own and Other Groups," and a related course paper, "The Effects of Reading Literature on the Attitudes of Adolescents." It also includes her original teaching units for middle school students.

The Clayton County Sesquicentennial Commission series consists of the comprehensive records of the commission. Evans kept records of commission meetings, grants, event planning, and expenses related to the Iowa state sesquicentennial in 1996. Originally kept in a three-ring binder, the records have been removed from the binder and filed in folders in their original order.


  • Creation: 1977-2001


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

Alpha Simmons Evans, teacher and curriculum advisor, was born February 19, 1918, on a homestead in North Dakota. In 1920, her family moved to Iowa where she attended rural schools in Kossuth County, graduating from Swea City High School in 1934. An abiding passion for the earth sciences earned her a science scholarship to West Union College in Le Mars, Iowa, but economic factors precluded her attending. She enrolled in a two-year teacher certification program, graduating in 1936 at age eighteen.

Following her graduation, she taught seventh and eighth grade classes, first in Ringstead, Iowa, from 1936 to 1940, then in Gilmore City, Iowa, from 1940 to 1942, and later in Council Bluffs, Iowa, from 1942 to 1944. At each post, she coached girls' basketball, and in Council Bluffs coached boys' baseball as well. During World War Two, she took summer courses in the earth sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder. When World War Two ended, Alpha Simmons married Master Sergeant Robert S. Evans, following his discharge from the service. They operated a hardware store and raised a family in Strawberry Point, Iowa.

After not having taught for seventeen years, Evans returned to teaching in 1961 in response to an acute teacher shortage. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa, in 1966. After her husband died suddenly in 1967, she sold the hardware store and resumed her teaching career in earnest as a high school teacher. During the 1970-1971 school year, she represented teachers during a labor dispute and became involved with regional and state education advisory committees. That same year she also began work at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) to complete a Masters of Education degree under Roger Keuter at the Education Center in the College of Education. An account of her activities at UNI are given in the Biographical series.

The 1970s was an active decade in Evans's life. She created original learning units using behavioral objectives, worked with state and national advisory committees, and completed a Masters Degree in Education at UNI. She continued to work on advisory panels until 1983 when she resigned to resume her focus on teaching language arts to seventh and eighth grade students. She won recognition for her writing activities from Drake University, which named her "Writing Teacher of the Year" in 1989. She retired from the profession in 1989.

Evans was an original member of the Clayton County Sesquicentennial Commission that arranged for performances and other events to celebrate Iowa's sesquicentennial in 1996. She served as a field representative for Earthwatch, traveling with archeological investigation teams to Mexico each summer for several years. She also traveled to Israel, Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, the Grand Canyon, and Belize from 1986 to 1999.


3.50 linear inches

Language of Materials



Rural middle school teacher who chaired the Iowa committee to revise teacher standards in the 1970s.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 602) were donated by Alpha Evans in 1999.

Doris Malkmus, 2001.
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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)