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Lois Baker Muehl papers

Identifier: IWA0470

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Scope and Contents

The Lois Baker Muehl papers date from 1952 to 2000 and measure 2.1 linear feet. The papers are arranged in seven series: Biographical, China, Professional, Unpublished Works, Published Works, Publication Files, and Photographs and Slides.

The Biography series dates from 1957-1990 and contains several newspaper articles about the life and career of Lois Baker Muehl, personal letters, and speeches. Also included in this series are the various awards Muehl won for her writing and an interview with Muehl excerpted from Iowa: A Place to Read, published by the Iowa Reading Association in 1990. The complete volume, Iowa: A Place to Read, is shelved in the printed works collection of the Iowa Women's Archives.

The China series dates from 1987-1993 and contains information and records from Lois Muehl's trip to China as a visiting professor teaching English to post-doctorate students at Hohai University. Included is a copy of her contract with Hohai University and articles and information that Muehl collected in preparation for her trip to China. This series also contains the diaries and journals she kept while in China. These diaries are the basis for her published work, Trading Cultures in the Classroom, co-authored by her husband, Siegmar Muehl.

The Professional series dates from 1969-1987 and contains papers from Lois Baker Muehl's career as a professor of rhetoric at the University of Iowa. Included in this series is a copy of the text she wrote, A Reading Approach to Rhetoric, which contains extensive margin notes from Muehl. Also included is material from various exhibits presented by Lois Baker Muehl at the Iowa Memorial Union, materials she prepared for the Iowa Testing Program, and papers pertaining to her work at the Developmental Reading Center at the University of Iowa.

The Unpublished Works series dates from 1952-2006 and is organized by genre (children's literature, poetry, essay, etc.). This series is primarily comprised of stories for children, but also includes short stories, essays, and non-fiction.

The Published Works series dated from 1937-2012 and is organized by genre (poetry, essay, academic, etc.). Included in this series are copies of the publications in which Lois Baker Muehl's writing was published, as well as separate drafts of published works. This series also contains manuscripts of Muehl's published books. Three works have been transferred to the Iowa Women's Archives printed works collection: Trading Cultures in the Classroom, 1993; The Hidden Year of Devlin Bates, 1967; Worst Room in the School, 1961.

The Publication Files series dates from 1975-2013 and reflects the business aspects of Muehl’s writing life. Included are newspaper clippings, publication correspondence, contracts, notes, awards, and lists of published works (and compensation amounts).

The Photographs and Slides series dates from 1980-2012 and covers both professional and personal aspects of Lois Baker Muehl's life. Many of the photographs are of rugs, embroidered wall-hangings and quilts that Muehl made for her family. Others are of various art and craft projects, including driftwood sculptures, shadow boxes, and designs created from antique buttons. The slides are mostly from and exhibit that Lois Muehl put together for display in the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus in 1980.


  • Creation: 1952-2006


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research. Prior to January 1, 2060, researchers may not cite any actual names from the Chinese Diaries and other items directly relating to the diaries.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been retained by the donor until her death, at which point copyright will be transferred to the University of Iowa. While Lois Baker Muehl is living, permission to quote from her papers for publication must be obtained from the donor. Researchers wishing to use the Chinese Diaries must first sign the "Conditions of Access" form.

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 Baker Muehl, educator and writer, was born on April 29, 1920 in Oak Park, Illinois. She received her BA in English in 1941 from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. On April 15, 1944, she married Siegmar Muehl. The couple had four children, Erika, Sigrid, Torsten, and Brian. Muehl earned an MA in English Education from the University of Iowa in 1967.

In the late 1960s, she took two years off from her position as a rhetoric professor at the University of Iowa to teach in a program for African American college students in Charlotte, North Carolina. A rich part of Lois Muehl's professional life included her experiences teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in refugee camps in Thailand; Kyungnam University, Korea; Hohai University in Nanjing, China; and in Merced, California. A freelance writer, Lois Baker Muehl published numerous poems along with articles, and children's books, of which one was a Junior Literary Guild selection and another was on the New York Times' "100 Best" list.

Her poetry and light verse appeared in such publications as Capper's, Country Woman, Midwest Poetry Review, and The Saturday Evening Post, as well as in the books "If We'd Wanted Quiet We Would Have Raised Goldfish", and "More Phonics Through Poetry". Muehl also published academic articles and a textbook/reader for college level rhetoric students.

In collaboration with her husband, she wrote Trading Cultures in the Classroom, focusing on the couple's experiences teaching English as a Second Language in China prior to the Tienanmen Square incident of 1989. Lois Baker Muehl retired from her position as associate professor of rhetoric and director of the Developmental Reading Lab at the University of Iowa in June 1985.

During her retirement, she continued to write and publish children's work, short stories, poetry, essays, and non-fiction. She remained active in several writing clubs and organizations, including the American Pen Women and the University Club Writers. Lois Baker Muehl died in 2013.


3.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



University of Iowa rhetoric professor who published children's books and taught English as a second language at refugee camps in Thailand, Korea, and China.


Three works have been transferred to the Iowa Women's Archives printed works collection: Trading Cultures in the Classroom, 1993; The Hidden Year of Devlin Bates, 1967; Worst Room in the School, 1961.

Method of Acquisition

The Lois Baker Muehl papers (donor no. 709) were donated by Lois Baker Muehl in 2000 and subsequent years.

Stacy Ross, 2001; Katie Gandhi, 2016
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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)