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Margaret Fox papers

Identifier: IWA0530

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Scope and Contents

The Margaret Fox papers date from 1930 to 2010 and measure 2.1 linear feet. The papers are arranged in seven series: Biographical information, Career, Service, Research, Teaching Curriculum, Photographs and Artifacts.

The Biographical Information series (1967-2010) consists of resumes, obituaries, and articles about Fox. It also contains a transcribed interview with Fox. Her oral history is part of a collection of retired American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Leaders. Fox discusses her childhood, academic career, philosophical approach to physical education and dissent from the current focus on elite athletes rather than adapted physical education, and her experience as a foster parent. Coverage of the Dr. Margaret Fox Presidential Scholarship for Study Abroad details Fox's love for foreign travel and how that interest was first spawned as a child and again during her year as a foreign-exchange student in England.

The Career series (1933-1988) relates to Fox's professional work as a student, teacher and researcher. It includes correspondence from her tenure at the University of Iowa, letters from colleagues upon her retirement, and documents pertaining to her time at the Anstey Physcial Training College.

Fox's professional involvement as president and chairperson in national organizations is reflected in the Service series (1949-1984). Included are conference programs and "President's Letters" in which she wrote an annual address to the Iowa Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation from 1957 to 1961.

The Research series (1934-1978) contains Fox's publications in her specialties of posture studies and correctives, motor abilities, and sports education. Included are research and business files pertaining to her work with army boots, and a bound copy of the completed study.

Fox's teaching materials while in the Department of Physical Education at West Virginia University are located in the Teaching series (1930-1945). These documents were transferred from records of the University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women.

The Photographs series (1933-1972) consists primarily of photographs of a professional nature, including those from conferences.

The Artifacts series (undated) is comprised of the first intercollegiate warm-up suit for the University of Iowa. Fox bought the suit with departmental funds since intercollegiate athletics for women had yet to be established.


  • Creation: 1930-2010


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

Physical educator Margaret Gertrude Fox was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1912. As a child Fox disliked her physical education classes and wished to be a dancer. After graduating from high school Fox's family bought and moved to a twenty-eight room boarding house near the University of Minnesota. By running the facility, Fox and her two siblings were able to attend the university while living at home, leaving tuition as the only expense.

Originally planning on being a librarian, Fox changed her plans when she found out that the degree had a language requirement. Physical education was heavily science oriented and did not have the language requirement, both to her liking. She transferred into physical education at the end of her freshman year and received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Minnesota in 1933. Within the year Fox began her career as a teacher of physical education at Bryant Junior High School in Minneapolis, until 1935, when she began teaching at the Duluth State Teachers College until 1940.

Once completing her master's degree at Columbia University in 1940, Fox taught kinesiology at West Virginia University for three years. She continued her graduate work at the University of Wisconsin where she would have been the first PhD graduate in the area of kinesiology. At Wisconsin she began as a graduate assistant, and then became an instructor and finally an assistant professor. However, due to the absence of a viable plan of study, Fox transferred to the State University of Iowa (now The University of Iowa) where she completed her PhD in physical education in 1949, with a focus on anatomy and kinesiology.

Fox joined the University of Iowa staff as an associate professor in 1949 and was promoted to full professorship within seven years. She taught anatomy and later kinesiology, correctives or adapted physical education, swimming and relaxation courses until her retirement in 1980. In addition to her role as an instructor, Fox was the department chairperson from 1974 to 1978. She was first appointed as interim chairperson when a search committee could not agree on a candidate. The following year Fox formally applied with a new batch of applicants, and was elected to the position.

Fox's teaching extended beyond the university with radio and locally televised exercise programs. Students demonstrated the moves while she explained the exercises. Fox also taught as an exchange teacher at the Anstey Physical Training College in Birmingham, England from 1951-1952.

Fox spoke and published extensively about her research on posture and feet. Her doctoral dissertation was on the foot, an interest she had developed while working in a foot clinic at Wisconsin. Fox's mentor, Gladys M. Scott, was conducting research for the army on the hand. Fox followed suit and proposed a project to the army dealing with the design of army boots and how they would affect the performance of an infantry soldier. During her three years of research, Fox tested variations in boot construction and ROTC men were required to participate in the research experiments. After three years of data collection Fox wrote up her report. The master and only copy was stolen from her car after which Fox dedicated another year to rewriting the document from the raw data. Fox dedicated four years to the army boot research and was not allowed to write any publications with the classified material.

Fox served her profession as an elected member of research and editorial committees. She was president of the Central Association for Physical Education of College Women and the Iowa Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (IAHPER), and vice president of the Central Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Fox served as editor for a number of academic journals such as the Research Quarterly, the Journal of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and the Journal of Physical Education. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, Kappa Delta Pi, and Pi Lambda Theta honorary societies, the American Academy of Physical Education, and fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine. The American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation presented Fox with the Honor Award in 1958.

On a more personal note, Fox took in a child from the Annie Wittenmeyer Home in Davenport, Iowa in the late 1950s. A social worker spoke at a state Business and Professional Women's Association meeting about the number of teenagers who were in need of a home. M. Gladys Scott was in attendance and challenged the social worker to allow a single person to be a foster parent. Fox heard about the meeting and was also interested in taking a girl in and putting her through college. Within two weeks both Fox and Scott were invited to visit the Annie Wittenmeyer Home where they met with students. After a selection process and trial visit Fox became the foster parent to Phyllis, a red-haired twelve year old girl who lived with Fox until she turned eighteen.

Fox's dedication to education continues through two scholarships. The Margaret Fox Scholarship is awarded to an undergraduate major in the Department of Physical Education for Women (now the Department of Health and Leisure Studies). In 2005 Fox established the Dr. Margaret Fox Presidential Scholarship for Study Abroad to support students interested in international learning experiences.

Fox died on June 10, 2010 at the age of 98 in Iowa City.


2.1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Faculty member in the Department of Physical Education for Women at the State University of Iowa from 1949 to 1980.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 928) were donated by Margaret Fox in 2004 and 2010, and (donor no. 257) by the Department of Sport, Health, Leisure and Physical Studies in 1995 and 2005.

Related Materials

University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women records (IWA)

N. Peggy Burke papers (IWA): Burke was a department chair in the Department of Physical Education for Women.

Christine Grant papers (IWA): Grant was a faculty member of the University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women, and the director of Women's Athletics.

WSUI- Julie Englander, "100th Anniversary of UI Health and Sport Studies." The WSUI records contain an oral interview with Margaret Fox.

Jun-Nicole Matsushita, 2006; Kate Stewart, 2006; Audrey Coleman, 2011
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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)