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Thelma Petersen papers

Identifier: IWA0567

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Scope and Contents

The Thelma Petersen papers date from 1926 to 2003 and measure 2.5 linear feet. The bulk of the collection consists of her diaries, which date from 1949 to 1998, although the years 1951-1954 are missing. The correspondence includes letters from friends and family members written to Thelma Petersen while she attended Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames, Iowa. Thelma Petersen's diary entries focus on her daily life: cooking, gardening, washing, and weather. In the front and back of most of the diaries Petersen records information about a variety of topics including visitors, money she tithed to her church, and her hair permanents. The diaries are mainly written in spiral notebooks and some contain calendars and clippings folded in the back of the notebook.

The Thelma Petersen papers also include the diaries of her mother Katie, who was born in 1874 in Coon Valley, Wisconsin, and died in 1972 in Shelby County, Iowa. Katie Petersen's diaries include details of her daily life as a wife and mother on an Iowa farm.

Four photographs of family members complete the collection: a 1946 portrait of Katie and Hans Petersen on their 50th wedding anniversary, photos of Thelma and Archie Petersen in 1980, and an informal portrait of Thelma and her seven siblings in 1987.


  • Creation: 1926-2003


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

Thelma Beatrice Petersen, homemaker, was born to Kristina 'Katie' Erickson Petersen and Hans Simondsen Petersen in 1909 and grew up on a western Iowa farm. She was the sixth of eight children. Petersen attended Donway Country School, Kirkman High School, and the homemaker?s program at Iowa State Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Thelma Petersen kept house for her parents and brother, Archie Petersen, in Kirkman, Iowa. She also cared for extended family members. Petersen, an avid gardener, was a 4-H club leader and an active member in her church.


2.50 Linear Feet

Photographs in Box 6 boxes

Language of Materials



Diaries of homemaker from Kirkman, Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1047) were donated by Thelma Petersen in 2003.

Fiona McDougall, 2006.
Language of description
Script of description
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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)