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Vera Shivvers papers

Identifier: IWA0464

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Scope and Contents

The Vera Shivvers papers date from 1914 to 1990 and measure 2.3 linear feet. The papers are arranged in 6 series: Personal, Legislative, Speeches, Journals, Photographs and Scrapbooks.

The Personal series (1914-1990) contains a wide range of biographical information on Vera Shivvers including personal correspondence spanning nearly seventy-five years and various newspaper clippings regarding Vera from her numerous community activities over several decades.

The Legislative series (1963-1988) mainly holds correspondence Vera Shivvers received from constituents during her Iowa Senate term. Speeches and newspaper clippings from this time are also included. A prominent topic of the speeches and constituent mail is "liquor by the drink."

The Speeches series (1963-1983) contains the speeches Vera Shivvers gave throughout her lifetime at various community and club gatherings.

The Journals series (1973-1990) holds the calendars and journals Vera Shivvers kept later in life concerning her daily activities.

The Photographs series (1915-1986) ranges from her high school days up until the last years of her life. A few pictures are included of Vera Shivvers at the statehouse during her Senate term as well as a photo of Vera and L. C. Shivvers at their daughter's wedding and photos of Vera and second husband Wallace McKee at the VEISHEA parade in Ames, Iowa. Also included are photos of all of the houses Vera Shivvers lived in.

The Scrapbooks series (1917-1965) contains two scrapbooks covering Vera Shivvers' service in the Iowa State Senate, and one documenting L.C. (John) Shivvers' life, including his service in the Navy during World War I, his involvement in 4-H and in the Republican Party, and his leadership in the Iowa State Sheep Association and other livestock producers' organizations. Also included is information about the Shivvers Memorial Lecture Series at Iowa State University that Vera Shivvers established in her husband's memory in 1969.


  • Creation: 1914-1990


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

Laura Vera Hollowell Shivvers, farm woman, wife, mother, teacher, and state senator, was born on June 16, 1897 to Emma Etta Mason Hollowell and William Aaron Hollowell on Prairie View Stock Farm near Dallas, Iowa. She attended the Dallas public schools and graduated from Indianola High School in 1916. She continued her education at Simpson College where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and editor of the school newspaper. She graduated with honors in 1920.

The daughter of two rural Iowa school teachers, Vera Hollowell taught high school English in Indianola and Bedford, Iowa, for three years. On September 17, 1924 she married L.C. (John) Shivvers and moved to Fair Acres, the Shivvers family farm near Knoxville, Iowa. L.C. Shivvers was named Levi Charles Shivvers at birth, but his father began calling him Johnny and he was known as John throughout his life. The couple had three daughters: Marietta, Martha, and Charlotte.

Vera Shivvers was active in community life, teaching Sunday school, serving as a school board member, 4-H leader, and church pianist. In 1953, Shivvers' contributions to her community were recognized when she was named an Iowa Master Farm Homemaker.

In 1962, John Shivvers was a Republican nominee for the Iowa Senate. Vera Shivvers actively campaigned with her husband in Marion and Monroe counties. He was elected, but died before he could serve his term. Through a special election, Vera Shivvers was elected to fill her husband's vacancy in the Senate, making her only the third woman to serve in the Iowa Senate. During her term as a state senator, Shivvers was a leader in legislating Iowa's first Fair Employment Practices Act.

She was not re-elected in the Democratic landslide of 1964 and renewed her high level of involvement in community service and volunteer organizations, including the Simpson Alumni Council, the Republican Party, the American Association for University Women (AAUW), the Knoxville Women's Club, and her church. She also helped to create the Marion County Historical Park, established the Shivvers Memorial Lectureship at Iowa State University, and served on the Marion County Extension Council and Planning Commission.

In 1978, Vera Shivvers married high school classmate Wallace McKee and moved to the McKee family farm near Indianola, Iowa. After Wallace McKee's death in 1988, Vera Shivvers moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1989, where she lived with her daughter Marietta until her death on March 10, 1990.


2.70 Linear Feet

Photographs in boxes 4-7 boxes

Language of Materials



Iowa farm woman who was elected to fill her husband's term in the Iowa Senate following his death in 1962.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 682) were donated by Marietta Carr, Charlotte Shivvers, and Martha Skillman in 2000.

Stacy Ross, 2002; Britt Nelson, 2005.
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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)