Skip to main content

Alberta Metcalf Kelly papers

Identifier: IWA0176

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

Scope and Contents

The papers date from 1899 to 1994 and measure 2 linear feet. The papers are arranged in three series: Personal life, Professional life, and Family. The papers reveal Metcalf Kelly's role as a national figure within Democratic party electoral politics during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Personal life (1899-1994) series includes scattered correspondence,personal legal documents and a scrapbook of Metcalf Kelly's life whileattending college in the 1920s. This series also contains early family photographs.

The second series, Professional life (1922-1968), focuses upon Metcalf Kelly's work in the Democratic Party seen primarily in newspaper clippings and photographs of her with national political figures such as Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Hubert Humphey. Some papers and artifacts of interest in the collection include an original signature of Margaret and President Harry Truman (Professional life, Truman Presidential train, 1948), the program from President John Kennedy's famous birthday celebration (Professional life, Dinner and event programs, 1958-1964), and the badges from each National Democratic Convention between 1948 and 1968 (Professional life, National Democratic Party, Badges, National Convention, 1948-1968).

The collection lacks evidence of her political views and unique contributions. Unfortunately, Metcalf Kelly regularly purged her correspondence files (Professional life, Correspondence, 1953-1977). One of the few examples of her political beliefs is a handwritten addition to the party platform calling for federal funding of public schools (Professional life, Platform amendment, 1958). Despite this absence, the collection shows her constant effort and long term devotion to party activities for which she gained national recognition within electoral politics.

The Family (1908-1977)series consists of memorabilia and photographs of Metcalf Kelly's immediate family members. The bulk of this series incorporates clippings and photographs of Clarence Metcalf, Metcalf Kelly's brother, focusing upon Metcalf's national work on the Iowa Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation State Committee (ASCS) during the 1960s.


  • Creation: 1899-1994


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

Alberta Metcalf Kelly was born in Nichols, Iowa in 1899 to Berton Lee Metcalf and Ina Hankins. Her father was a cattleman, teacher, entrepreneur and Democratic legislator in the 45th State Assembly from 1933 to 1937 representing Muscatine County. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1920 at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa ) in the College of Education. In 1936, Metcalf Kelly finished her Master of Arts degree at the same institution. Her teaching career included instructing high school in Rockford and Chicago, Illinois, and Iowa City, Iowa, in the 1920s. She also taught English classes at the University of Iowa in 1956. Metcalf Kelly married William Kelly in 1923 whom she met during her college days in Iowa City. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1934.

In 1940, Metcalf Kelly began her lifelong pursuit of involvement in the Democratic Party, beginning at the precinct level and extending her activity to local, state and national party politics. She served as the Vice-President of the Muscatine County Democratic Central Committee of Iowa. From 1944 to 1953, she served as First District Committeewoman of the State Central Committee. In 1953, she was elected to the Democratic National Committee by delegates to the 1952 national Democratic convention. The national committee's role includes fundraising for the party, searching for and training of potential candidates, as well as coordinating and writing the party platform. Metcalf Kelly remained on the national committee until 1968. Between 1948 and 1968, she attended the Democratic National Conventions as a delegate or in other capacities. She also participated in various national meetings and functions of the Democratic Party. Metcalf Kelly died in 1994 in her hometown of Nichols.


2.00 Linear Feet

Photographs in  boxes 1-3 boxes

Language of Materials



High school English teacher who was active in state and national Democratic Party politics during the 1950s and 1960s.

Method of Acquisition

The Metcalf Kelly papers (Donor File 255) were donated by the Alberta Kelly estate in 1995.

Heather Ritchie, 1995.
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)