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Harriet Adeline Stevens papers

Identifier: IWA0707

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Scope and Contents

The Harriet A. Stevens papers date from 1928 to 1994and measure 5 linear inches. They are arranged in six series: Biographical Materials; Department of Home Economics, University of Iowa; World War II Army Service; Press Releases; Publications and Presentations; and Phi Beta Kappa. Her papers consist of academic and professional records, Army service records, publications and press releases pertaining to her work as a nutrition researcher and educator, and materials relating to her tenure in the Home Economics Department of the University of Iowa and the Home Economics Department in general. Records concerning the University of Iowa Alpha of Phi Beta Kappa, as well as information regarding the Stevens scholarship, are contained herein. A small folder of biographical material on fellow nutrition researcher Dr. Margaret Ohlson is included in this collection, as is a small folder on Stevens' efforts to combat the elimination of "historically female" departments at the University of Iowa.

This collection provides little information on Stevens' career prior to her Army service. Her personal recollections of Army life at Camp Gordon provide a fascinating, if brief, look at the stateside war. Stevens' academic and professional records, first as a student and later as a faculty member with the University of Iowa, invite researchers to examine the changing structure and philosophy of home economics education. A collection of press releases relating to Home Economics Department activities in the 1950s and 1960s offers a sometimes humorous look at changing gender ideologies during that period.


  • Creation: 1928-1994


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

Harriet Adeline Stevens had a long and distinguished career in the field of nutrition education and dietetics. The daughter of Guy and Adeline Stevens, she was born in Iowa City, Iowa, on October 25, 1909. She graduated from University High School, Iowa City, in 1928. Stevens received a B.A. in Home Economics and a certificate of education with high distinction from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in 1932. She also received an M.A. in Nutrition from the State University of Iowa in January 1934. After teaching one term at Emporia State Teacher's College in Emporia, Kansas, Stevens moved to Chicago. She held a variety of supervisory positions in the dietary department of the University of Chicago Clinics between July 1934 and November 1938.

Seeking a change of pace, she took charge of the main kitchen of the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) in Richmond, Virginia. With the outbreak of war in late 1941, her best workers "soon found out they could get paid more by the Army than they were paid by MCV!" Once she heard from other dieticians that "working conditions [in the Army] were a snap," she enlisted immediately.

Stevens joined the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and served as a Medical Hospital Dietician at Camp Gordon, Georgia from March 1942 to February 1945. In October 1943, she was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant- Head Medical Hospital Dietician. She served overseas between March 1945 and December 1945, working at a camp hospital in Great Britain for a time. She received an honorable discharge in January 1946.

On return to civilian life, she spent the summer of 1946 taking dietetics coursework at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She then accepted the post of Senior Nutritionist with the New York Department of Health, a job she held from 1946 to 1951. She returned to the University of Iowa in 1951 and taught in the Home Economics Department from 1951 to 1974. During that time, she taught or assisted in the teaching of a wide range of nutrition and child-care courses. Her approach to teaching was pragmatic and applied, in keeping with her considerable practical experience. She continued her education at the University of Iowa, working closely with Dr. Margaret Ohlson of the Dietetics Department of the University Hospital.

Stevens also produced a number of distinguished publications. In 1961, she won honorable mention in the Lydia J. Roberts Essay Award Competition, one of the highest honors bestowed by the American Dietetics Association. Her final major publication, Fixing and Eating (1974), showed children how to prepare easy, nutritious recipes. She was a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Home Economics Association, and Phi Beta Kappa.

Although she retired in 1974, Stevens continued to take an active interest in the University. She actively opposed the targeting of "historically female" departments by the University Steering Committee in 1991. She also endowed the Stevens Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually by Phi Beta Kappa in memory of her parents, thereby encouraging academic excellence.


5.00 linear inches

Language of Materials



Teacher of nutrition education and dietetics; U. S. Army Second Lieutenant who served as a medical hospital dietician at Camp Gordon, Georgia during World War II.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 520) were donated by Harriet A. Stevens in 1998.

Bridgett Williams-Searle, 1999.
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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)