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Alice Kelley papers

Identifier: IWA0485

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Scope and Contents

The Alice Kelley papers date from 1888 to 2005 and measure 3.25 linear feet. The papers are arranged in five series: Biographical, Diaries, Memorabilia, Monthly Investment Group, and Photographs. The bulk of the papers consist of diaries Alice Kelley kept from 1926 through 2003-- the record of an Iowa woman from her childhood through old age-- and diaries her sister Mary Louise Kelley kept from 1958 to 1997.

The Biographical series (2002-2005) includes the transcript of a 2002 oral history interview with Kelley conducted by Ilene Hammond of the History Committee of the First United Methodist Church. Kelley reminisces about her early years, attending school, living on the Iowa River, going to Girl Scouts and joining the Church. She also recounts working at both the University of Iowa and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The series also includes Kelley's obituary.

The Diaries series (1926-2003) includes daily diaries written by both Alice Kelley and her sister Mary Louise Kelley. The diaries include short entries on the weather, social activities, appointments and both local and national events, such as President Nixon's resignation and the attacks on the World Trade Center. Travel diaries written by Alice Kelley and her sister of their many trips throughout Europe and the U.S. complete the series.

The Memorabilia series (1888-2001) includes the oldest item in the collection, an autograph book belonging to Alice Kelley's mother, Hortense Westcott Kelley. Two autograph books from Alice Kelley's teenage years are included, as well as a notebook of the lyrics to love songs that she titled "Songs I Like." Alice Kelley and Mary Louise Kelley's reading diaries ("Books Read") consist of lists of books the Kelleys read along with a short description. Alice Kelley's scrapbook contains programs, invitations, and other ephemera from school and social events from her junior high days through college, roughly 1923 to 1938.

The Monthly Investment Group series (1991-2001) includes newspaper clippings, notes, the group's constitution and its membership records. Alice Kelley's secretary book with meeting minutes and attendance records is in the original binder. The Monthly Investment Group was modeled after the famous Beardstown Ladies Investment Club.

The Photographs series (1933-1997) includes photographs of Alice Kelley, her sister Mary Louise, her brother Emory, University of Iowa personalities (including Helene Scriabine, whose papers are preserved at the Iowa Women's Archives), and friends, taken after Kelley's retirement. Two albums in their original condition include one with undated photographs that appear to be taken early in the twentieth century. A second album contains photographs from the 1930s. Most of the photographs in these albums are of family and friends.


  • Creation: 1888-2005


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

Lifelong Iowa Citian, Alice Hortense Kelley, was born to Hortense Westcott Kelley and Thomas Delano Kelley in 1915 in Iowa City, Iowa. The third child, Kelley was preceded by a brother, Emory (born in 1906), and a sister, Mary Louise (1908-1997). Born in her maternal grandparents' home, Kelley and her family lived with the Westcotts for several years and Kelley began her primary education at Longfellow Elementary School. Kelley's father operated a dry cleaning business he had established in 1898. In 1921, Kelley's mother took a job as manager of the Iowa City Country Club.

The family moved into the upstairs of the country club along the Iowa River for about two years. During this period Kelley attended University Elementary School. She returned to Longfellow Elementary School when her family moved again. In 1939 the family moved to 411 S. Governor Street (where Kelley resided until her death). Kelley attended Iowa City High School. She was editor of the Little Hawk Weekly and editor of the yearbook. She graduated in 1933.

While attending the University of Iowa, Alice Kelley worked part time in the department of publications for Fred Pownall. Kelley later worked for Adelaide Burge, dean of women. She received a BA degree in Liberal Arts in 1938 but continued working for the dean of women until May 1942, when she took a job as secretary to William Hageboeck, publisher of the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Kelley maintained that position, working for several subsequent publishers, until January 1975. As secretary to the publisher, Kelley ran the switchboards, took classified advertisements, read legal papers, maintained the correspondence, paid the bills, supervised the payroll and dealt with customers.

In retirement, Alice Kelley enjoyed traveling with her sister, Mary Louise Kelley. Alice Kelley was active in Altrusa, Business and Professional Women, University Women's Clubs, the BBC (a club that began among classmates at Longfellow Elementary School and continued through the 1990s), a monthly investment group formed with friends, and the First United Methodist Church. Kelley was also instrumental in preserving the nineteenth century schoolhouse in Coralville, Iowa, for the Johnson County Historical Society in 2001. Alice Kelley died in 2005.


3.25 Linear Feet

Photographs are located in Box 8. boxes

Language of Materials



University of Iowa graduate who worked as a secretary. The papers mainly consist of the diaries she kept from 1926-2002.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 820) were donated by Alice Kelley in 2001 and subsequent years.


Lisa Mott, 2003; Kate Stewart, 2006.
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)