Skip to main content

Marilyn E. (Harris) Jackson papers

Identifier: IWA0098

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The Marilyn E. (Harris) Jackson papers date from 1931 to 2016 and measure 17.5 linear inches (4 boxes). The papers are arranged in seven series: Biography, Peggy A. L. Shriver, Marie Tharp, Toolesboro Mounds, Artifacts, Writings, and Dr. Bruce Heezen.

The Biography series consists of personal papers Jackson saved. Most of the personal papers are from Jackson's days as a student at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). There are several compositions Jackson wrote for a "Modern Prose" class she took in 1946 that was taught by Carrie Stanley (for whom Stanley Hall is named). The 1945 pamphlet Code for Coeds gives rules, regulations, and suggestions for being a successful coed. There is also a brochure from the University Women's Association Vocational Conference of 1948 that suggests career choices for women and contains several period advertisements from local Iowa City establishments. The biography series also has papers concerning the First Presbyterian Church in Iowa City, Iowa, general correspondence, pamphlets from the 20th Century Club, materials Jackson collected for possible writing projects, and photographs from Jackson’s younger years.

The Peggy A. L. Shriver series consists of a 2002 biographical update of Shriver and correspondence between Shriver and Jackson. Peggy Shriver was born in Iowa and earned a PhD from Central College in Pella, Iowa. She served in many staff and leadership positions with the Presbyterian Church, US, the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA, and other national and international religious and peacemaking organizations. (Books by Shriver are shelved in the IWA printed works collection).

The Marie Tharp series consists primarily of letters written by oceanographer Tharp to Jackson. It also contains handwritten notes Jackson kept regarding Tharp's life and experiences. The series contains an article Tharp co-authored in 1986 for Natural History, a 1999 article about the Lamont-Doherty Conservatory of Columbia University in New York where Tharp worked and did much of her oceanography research, and a 1999 article regarding Tharp's receipt of the Women Pioneers in Oceanography Award. This series also contains poems that Tharp's father, W.E. Tharp, gave to his daughter and a soil survey he authored in 1931 for Monroe County, Iowa, when he was working for the US Bureau of Chemistry and Soils. Marie Tharp attended school in Albia, Iowa, while her father conducted his soil survey of Monroe County. The poems and the soil survey, along with the Natural History article, are all mentioned by Tharp in two letters she wrote to Jackson on October 22, 1986.

The Toolesboro Mounds series consists of the research materials, notes, and drafts Jackson accumulated as she prepared an article on the ancient Indian burial site for The Iowan. The series contains correspondence dealing with the proposed article, secondary research materials Jackson collected, Jackson's handwritten notes, numerous drafts, and several photographs of the mound site that Jackson took herself.

The Artifacts series consists of a carbon paper box typical of the 1940s in which Jackson stored her essays and class assignments for the Modern Prose class she took at the State University of Iowa during her sophomore year, 1946-1947.

The Writings series consists of Jackson’s articles and preparation for writing. This includes her work for the Kent Feeds in Muscatine, Iowa, her widely published article “The Five Minute Letter”, the research for her article “The Great River Collection” about the Muscatine Art Center, and her various magazine publications. There are also nineteen copies of The Iowan in the series. Each have at least one article by Jackson in them.

The Dr. Bruce Heezen series consists of research about Jackson’s school friend Bruce Heezen for several articles about the oceanographer after his death. This includes detailed reports about the last mapping mission he went on, correspondence with Marie Tharp about their mutual friend, and published articles about Heezen. It also contains letters and information from Dr. Walter Youngquist, a geologist, who worked closely with Heezen. He wanted to start a memorial scholarship in memory of the oceanographer and wanted Tharp and Jackson’s opinions about where to create the fund. Eventually the Dr. Bruce Heezen Memorial Scholarship was established in 2008 at Muscatine High School.


  • Creation: 1931-2016


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

Marilyn Elizabeth Harris Jackson, born June 24, 1927, writer and history enthusiast, grew up in Muscatine, Iowa. She grew up attending the First Presbyterian Church in Muscatine and continued to do so throughout her adult life. In 1945 she graduated from Muscatine High School as Salutatorian and attended the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in Iowa City, Iowa to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. While at university she met and married Ralph Le Ray Jackson. The two had three children: two daughters, Ann and Jennifer, and a son Steven.

Jackson worked as an independent journalist and advertiser while liking in Muscatine. Her major advertising job was for the local Kent Feed store where she helped them design an ad line for the frozen dessert Frostline. She also published news articles in many publications throughout her life. She had regular pieces in the local papers, The Iowan, and several Presbyterian magazines. One article took off to a national scale “The Five Minute Letter”. It details how to write informal letters in a short amount of time to encourage people to stay connected. Her methodology of throwing out any formal rules for letter writing was widely embraced for casual communications and many magazines wanted to publish the piece.

In her later years, Jackson taught writing classes to senior citizens in West Liberty and Muscatine, Iowa. These classes were sponsored by the Muscatine County Commission on Aging, the Iowa Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She also participated in the planning of a memorial scholarship at her High School alma mater in honor of a deceased friend. Jackson died January 2, 2016 in her home in Muscatine.


17.5 linear inches

Photographs in Box 1, Box 2, and Box 4. One videocassette (V1005) shelved in the videocassette collection. One floppy disk (d0573) shelved in the digital collection. boxes

Language of Materials



Independent journalist, writer, and teacher from Muscatine, Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 159) were donated by Marilyn E. Jackson in 1999 and 2001 as well as by Ann E. Drahos in 2016.

Lisa Mott, 2003; Sharon M. Lake, 2008; Avery Porter, 2021.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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)