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Edith Edmund Johnson papers

Identifier: IWA0740

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Scope and Contents

The Edith Edmund Johnson papers date from 1922 to 2005 and measure 4 linear inches. The papers are arranged in four series: Biographical information, Fancy Work Circle, Good Cheer Society and Lutheran Church Women's Quilting Club.

The Fancy Work Circle series consists primarily of minute books spanning 1922 through 1975. The minutes were not necessarily written in sequence. One minute book covers the years 1936 through 1969 while another overlaps with minutes from 1959 through 1966. In addition to meeting minutes some of the books contain roll calls and financial records. Meticulous records were kept regarding the payment of dues. The minute book dating from 1922-1943 begins with a handwritten record of the club's bylaws. Also found in the Fancy Work Circle series are yearbooks from 1929 through 1960, each handmade and tied with a ribbon.

The Good Cheer Society series contains newspaper articles regarding the club's seventieth anniversary celebration in 1976. Edith Johnson was honored at the same time for her sixty year membership in the club and there are photographs taken at the separate celebration for her anniversary. The series also contains a photocopy of the original scrapbook Johnson had kept of the society's activities. Due to the poor condition of the scrapbook the contents were photocopied and then disassembled.

The Lutheran Church Women's Quilting Club series consists of a 1971 photograph of the members sitting around a table engaged in quilting and a 1976 newspaper article celebrating the club's activities. Both the photograph and the newspaper article came from Johnson's scrapbook.


  • Creation: 1922-2005


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

Edith Bertina Edmund Johnson was born in Ottumwa, Iowa in 1893 to Anna Mathilda Hallander Edmund and John Peter Edmund. She attended school until the eighth grade and at age sixteen began working in a garment factory in Ottumwa. In 1916 she married Elmer C. Johnson and the couple farmed on the Johnson family farm near Fairfield, Iowa until 1942. Edith Johnson was a lifelong member of the Good Cheer Society and the First Lutheran Church of Fairfield, Iowa. She was also a member of the Lutheran Church Women (LCW), the LCW Quilting Club and she served on the bicentennial committee in 1976 for both the LCW and First Lutheran Church. Johnson had three children.

The Fancy Work Circle was founded in 1911 by Mrs. George Woods of Fairfield, Iowa. Over the years the club has made pillows for the hospital and comforters for the needy. It has also supported the American Red Cross and other civic activities. The club was originally called: Utile dulci, meaning the useful with the agreeable. The Good Cheer Society began in March 1906 in the rural Fairfield home of Miss Fannie Cummings where five women met to discuss the organizing of a group of neighborhood women for the benefit of orphans. On April 4, 1906 twenty women met in the Cummings home and elected officers. The officers were instructed to draw up by-laws for the society and the name "Good Cheer" was chosen.

The Orphans Home at Council Bluffs was chosen as the group's main project. In addition to raising money through dues and selling lunches at farm sales, the women made quilts, comforters and clothing for the Orphans Home. They also sent barrels of canned fruits and vegetables and periodically provided chickens and eggs. In addition to supporting the Orphans Home, the Good Cheer Society members provided sewing and knitting for the Red Cross and service men, donated money to the country's war chest and the school milk fund and held showers for neighbors following disasters. On the occasion of the society's seventieth anniversary in 1976 Mrs. Edith Johnson was honored as the oldest member of the club, having belonged for sixty years.

The Lutheran Church Women's Quilting Club began in 1960 at the First Lutheran Church in Fairfield, Iowa. By 1976 the group had made 120 quilts. They had also accumulated their own private mission fund which they used towards church projects. The LCW Quilting Club provided new drapes for the church's nursery, a new refrigerator for the kitchen, repairs on the electric clock in the social room and the installation of a microphone in the sanctuary. In addition to quilts, the club also makes layettes, bandages, robes and comforters.


4.00 linear inches

Photographs in Box 1. boxes

Language of Materials



Longstanding member of Fairfield, Iowa clubs including the Fancy Work Circle and the Good Cheer Society.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 866) were donated by Arlene Jens in 2002.

Related Materials

Arlene Jens papers (IWA): Edith Johnson was the mother of Arlene Jens.

Lisa Mott, 2003; Janet Weaver, 2005.
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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)