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Aldeen Davis papers

Identifier: IWA0279

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Scope and Contents

The Aldeen Davis papers date from 1954 to 1995 and measure 18 linear inches. The papers are arranged in 8 series:

Personal (undated) includes biographical sketch of Davis and biographical notes by Davis.

Community organizations (1954-1992) includes involvement in church, club, and civic activities. The earliest entry in this series, the Bethel A.M.E. Sunday School record, details the revitalization of the school, one of Davis's first community service activities. The series also includes records from the Semper Fidelis Federated Women's Club; by-laws, correspondence, reports, and minutes of the Muscatine Federated Women's Club; and scattered records from various civic activities, including the Equity Committee, the Muscatine Human Rights Committee, and the Muscatine Public Library Board.

Interviews (undated) contains two videotaped interviews of Davis. The "Touchstone" interview was broadcast on Iowa Public Television.

Awards and presentations (1989-1992) includes the Governor's Volunteer Award and other honors Davis received, primarily from 1989 to 1992. It also contains photographs of Davis's art (c. 1989).

Educational activities (1977-1993) includes classes given and participated in by Davis.  Davis participated in an intergenerational writing project which paired senior citizens with elementary school children. The series also includes two Writers on the Avenue publications.

Newspaper clippings and manuscripts (1975-1992) contains Davis's written work unrelated to "Soul Food for Thought." These articles were published in the Iowa Bystander, the Muscatine Journal, and Prime Time.

Soul Food for Thought (book) (1984) includes a copy of Soul Food for Thought, published in 1984, and correspondence and public response to it. [Soul Food for Thought is shelved in the printed works collection in the Iowa Women's Archives; an additional copy can be found in the Iowa Authors Collection in Special Collections].

"Soul Food and Thought" (column) (1978-1991) contains clippings and manuscripts of Davis's long-running column. In one of her scrapbooks, Davis notes, "Soul-Food and Thought" first appeared in August of 1978 in the Muscatine Journal. It was picked up soon after by the Common Bond-Davenport and the Iowa Bystander-Des Moines[,] both Black Publications.  The Common Bond is no longer in existence, and the Iowa Bystander could no longer afford to pay for the column." The scrapbook in box 5 is dated from 1982 to 1988 but contains only material from 1982 to 1985.


  • Creation: 1954-1995


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

Aldeen Jones Davis, writer and community activist, was born in Centerville, Iowa, in 1916. She married William Davis in 1939 and later moved to Muscatine. She belonged to several African-American women's clubs: the Sue M. Brown Federated Women's Club; Semper Fidelis Federated Women's Club, of which she was president from 1964 to 1965; and the Muscatine Federated Women's Club, of which she was a charter member.

In 1978 she began writing a column on African-American history and modern life for the Muscatine Journal entitled "Soul Food and Thought", which ran until 1990. In 1984 Davis published "Soul Food for Thought", a book-length compilation of some of her articles. She wrote regularly for the Iowa Bystander, a long-running African-American-owned newspaper, and the Muscatine Journal. She published several articles in Prime Time, a publication for Iowa senior citizens, from 1988 to 1990.

Davis's numerous contributions to her community included serving on the Muscatine Human Rights Commission and the Equity Committee of the school board. She also served on the Muscatine Public Library board from 1977 to 1983. Davis was a dietary supervisor at a nursing home and designed workshops to train others in nursing home nutrition. She was an active member of the Muscatine Garden Club, serving as historian, and was president of the Muscatine Herb Pals from 1982 to 1994. She taught classes at Muscatine Community College, and was a member of the Writers on the Avenue group, a group of Iowa and Illinois writers devoted to critiquing and publishing members' work. She took up painting after retiring in the late 1970s, and photographs of her work can be found in Box 1.


18.00 linear inches

1 audiocassettes (AC357)

2 videocassettes (2 videocassettes [V101-V102])

Language of Materials



Muscatine, Iowa, newspaper columnist active in arts, civic, educational, and religious organizations.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 382) were donated by Aldeen Davis in 1996 and 1998.

Related Materials

Billie Lloyd papers (IWA):  Daughter of Aldeen Davis.

Muscatine Artists in Action records (IWA):  Davis wrote with its subgroup, Writers on the Avenue.

Muscatine Garden Club records (IWA):  Davis was an active member and donated the records in 1996.

Muscatine Herb Pals records (IWA):  Davis was an active member of the group for many years and was president from 1982 to 1994.

Seasoned Citizens (IWA): Davis' writings are included in several issues.

Lindsay Jones, 1998.
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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)