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Lois Laughlin papers

Identifier: IWA0184

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Scope and Contents

The Lois Laughlin papers date from 1939 to 2007 and measure 2.5 linear feet. This collection consists largely of Laughlin's personal material. It contains forty volumes of diaries, which date from 1953 to 2007. Laughlin wrote about parenting, marriage, books, health, dreams, and lectures she attended. Lois Laughlin compiled a spiral bound collection of newspaper clippings and correspondence concerning her husband's status as a conscientious objector, Don Laughlin: Fragments from a Life, 1948-1974; included in this book are copies of his FBI file and a pardon from President John F. Kennedy.

This collection includes correspondence between Laughlin and her friends and family. Most of the correspondence written between 1938 and 1949 was damaged in a fire, including personal letters between Lois and Don Laughlin written in 1949, while Don served a prison term for refusing to comply with the Selective Service Act. Lois Laughlin prepared an index of the damaged letters; she recorded the content of the burned letters to the best of her recollection. This collection also includes information related to the deaths of daughters Janet and Ruth. Photographs of the Laughlin family complete the collection.


  • Creation: 1939-2007


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

Lois Lucile Wood Laughlin, activist, librarian, and volunteer, was born in 1925 in Berkeley, California, to Anna Lucile Kersey and Herbert Ross Wood. She married Donald Eugene Laughlin in 1945, and the couple had six children, David, Janet, Martha, Ruth, Naomi, and Roger. In 1946, Laughlin earned a BA in history and a teaching certificate from Whittier College in Whittier, California, and moved with her husband to West Branch, Iowa. Laughlin taught English and drama and was the school librarian at Scattergood Friends School, a private Quaker boarding school in West Branch, intermittently from 1946 until the late 1960s.

In 1949, Don Laughlin was sentenced to serve eighteen months in federal prison for refusing to comply with the Selective Service Act; he was released after serving six months of his sentence. During this time, Lois Laughlin raised their infant son, David. Don Laughlin was pardoned by President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

During the 1960s, Lois Laughlin attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, to earn an Iowa teaching certificate. From 1968 to 1974, she worked as a high school librarian in Tipton, Iowa. She subsequently worked at the registration center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. She earned an MA in library science at the University of Iowa in 1970. Laughlin served as a clerk for Society of Friends monthly meetings, president and treasurer of the Tipton, Iowa, branch of the American Association of University Women, and a board member of the Scattergood Friends School Committee.

In 1986, Laughlin's daughter, Ruth, died in Pennsylvania. Another daughter, Janet, died of lung cancer in 2004 in Iowa. Laughlin has been committed to world peace and involved in the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Lois Laughlin died in 2008.


2.50 Linear Feet

Photographs in Box 6, one audiocassette [AC1299]. boxes

Language of Materials



Papers of an activist from West Branch, Iowa, include correspondence and newspaper clippings relating to her husband's status as a conscientious objector.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 264) were donated by Lois Laughlin in 2003 and in subsequent years.

Related Materials

Ruth Laughlin papers (IWA): Ruth was the daughter of Lois Laughlin.

Karissa Haugeberg, 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)