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Jessie Hornsby papers

Identifier: IWA0564

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Scope and Contents

The Jessie Hornsby papers date from 1876 to 1993 and measure 7.5 linear inches. Much of the collection consists of French-language materials. The bulk of the collection is composed of materials pertaining to Hornsby's research on the works of Marcel Proust and Georges Bernanos. It includes published works, lectures and drafts of manuscripts, and her PhD dissertation, "Le Tragique dans l'oeuvre de Georges Bernanos." Hornsby's notes on Proust consist of both her own observations on his body of work and typed passages quoted from other sources. Reviews of Hornsby's first book, which was adapted from her PhD dissertation and published in 1960, may be found within the collection. The book itself, Le Tragique dans l'ouevre de Georges Bernanos, is held by the University of Iowa Libraries.

The collection includes a few personal items, two unidentified black and white photographs, and Hornsby's curriculum vitae. Materials regarding her parents, Jessie and William Gillespie (including their original marriage certificate, which was issued in Canada, and a copy of William's birth certificate), may be found in the collection.


  • Creation: 1876-1993


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

Jessie Gillespie Hornsby, French professor and department head at the University of Iowa, was born in Algiers, North Africa, to William and Jessie Gillespie in 1917. She was educated in Belgium and Paris and grew up speaking French. In 1939, Gillespie earned her BA from the University of Toronto. During World War II, she worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London, England, as an Intelligence Assistant analyzing public opinion and reactions to BBC broadcasts in France and its colonies.

Hornsby earned her MA in 1949 and her PhD in 1956, both from the University of Toronto. While there, Gillespie taught French language and literature but was told that she could not become a professor because she was a woman. In 1956, Gillespie accepted a teaching position at the University of Iowa, where she rose to the rank of assistant professor before returning to teach at the University of Toronto in 1959 for one year. She married Roger Hornsby, whom she met in Iowa City, and returned to the University of Iowa in 1960.

Jessie Hornsby's scholarly work includes two published books (one of which was translated into Spanish) and several articles on Georges Bernanos as well as work on the literature of Marcel Proust. She advanced to the position of professor at the University of Iowa in 1973, and was the chairman of the French and Italian Department from 1981 to 1984. In 1986, she became a professor emeritus. Hornsby died in Iowa City in 1993.


7.50 linear inches

Language of Materials



French professor at the University of Iowa who was born in Algiers, North Africa, and worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation in England as an intelligence assistant during World War II.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1027) were donated by Roger Hornsby in 2006.

Ashley Goulden, 2007.
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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)