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Judith Sutcliffe papers

Identifier: IWA0067

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Scope and Contents

The Judith Sutcliffe papers date from 1935 to 2016 and measure 5.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in nine series: Biographical information (1955-1962); Business (1960-1994), Publications (1972-2008); Correspondence (1953-2000); Artwork (1960-2006); Writings (1977-2016); Newspaper clippings (1952-1996); Photographs (1969-1992); Marjorie McVicker and Bill Sutcliffe (1935-1973). The bulk of this collection documents Sutcliffe's work as a printer and tile artist in Santa Barbara; however, there are photographs and newspaper clippings documenting earlier business ventures in Iowa as well as correspondence from Sutcliffe's high school and college years. Many of the items have handwritten notes from Sutcliffe explaining their significance.

The Correspondence series (1953-2000) contains two sets of letters. The first includes letters sent to Sutcliffe by her friend, John Niemeyer, during the period 1957-1960. It contains comments about their attitudes towards rock and roll music and a continuing debate about religion, especially Catholicism. The second set in this series encompasses the letters sent to Sutcliffe by Grace Ellis in 1963 and 1964. The bulk of the third set of letters was written by Sutcliffe to her parents while she lived in Santa Barbara. Sutcliffe corresponded frequently with her parents and would often send several letters a week. The letters describe her life and work. In addition, there are also letters from Sutcliffe's friends and her parent's friends, as well as her sister, Juana Reynolds, who lived in Overland Park, Kansas.

The Business series (1960-1994) contains materials dealing with Sutcliffe's work as a publisher and , printer, pottery artist and tile painter. It includes promotional pamphlets and samples of her font designs as well as materials about Lotte Lehman (an opera singer about whom Sutcliffe wrote and published) and mementos from her personal and professional relationship with another printer and publisher, Roger Levenson. Also included are materials from her tile murals business in Santa Barbara, CA. It consists primarily of postcards and photographs of Sutcliffe's murals and some promotional pamphlets (printed by Sutcliffe). Some related materials, photographs of earlier tile designs done in Iowa, can be found in the Photographs series.

The Publications series(1972-2000) contains bookcards and pamphlets published by Sutcliffe. The series also contains a design proposal for and issues of Noticias, a journal she redesigned and printed and several issues of La Reata, a journal she edited. Additionally, a book of her poems, Iowa Lyric, and a newsletter The Front Porch, which is occasionally published by Sutcliffe on small town life are also included. A series of five hand-printed portfolio flower prints are shelved in closed stacks. Two books of family anecdotes as well as a few books for which Sutcliffe functioned as illustrator are shelved in the printed works collection. Memories of John W. Sutcliffe, written and told by his friends as compiled after his death February 5, 1997 completes the series.

The Writings series (1977-2016) contains a number of works that Sutcliffe wrote including her personal journal from 1977 to 1978, an unpublished manuscript of poetry entitled Beneath Patchwork of Bright and Dark, translations of Lotte Lehman's poems and the script for Grandma Cherry's Spoon.

The Newspaper clippings series (1952-1996) contains clippings of articles written both about Sutcliffe and by her.

The Photographs series (1969-1992) contains a number of photographs (many byJoan Liffring-Zug) and slides documenting Sutcliffe's work with GreentreeEnterprises. They primarily consist of photographs of the Iowa Heritage Collectors plates as well as two photographsof the dolls Sutcliffe co-created with Lorraine Larsen and some photographs and slides of Sutcliffe's early tile work. The series also includes photographs of then Iowa senator Bill Winkelman (taken by Sutcliffe) and various personal portraits.

Illustrations and cover art:

The Bodega War and Other Tales From Western Lore (1988); Heroes, Villains and Ghosts (1984); A Kayak Full of Ghosts (1987); Sherlock Slept Here (1985); Wolverine Creates the World (1993); Young Wolf: The Early Adventure Stories of Jack London (1984).


  • Creation: 1935-2016


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research with the exception of the correspondence which is closed until January 15, 2041.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor and her heirs.

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

Judith Sutcliffe is an artist whose work includes tile painting, printing letterpress books, and designing type. In 1946, at the age of five, she moved to Audubon, Iowa, with her parents. She later graduated from Audubon Community High School as valedictorian and then majored in English and Chinese at the University of Iowa, graduating summa cum laude in 1963.

In 1968, after working at a variety of occupations elsewhere, Sutcliffe returned to Audubon and formed Greentree Enterprises. Under the auspices of this company, she collaborated with Joan Liffring-Zug on the hand-manufacture of over seventy editions of Iowa Heritage Collectors plates. She also created, in conjunction with Lorraine Larsen, limited editions of American Child Dolls. Their projects included designing and making the Iowa First Lady Dolls, which are on permanent display in the State Capitol, and dolls for the animated film, Raggedy Ann and Andy.

Sutcliffe moved to Santa Barbara, California, in 1978 and began a business painting tile murals (an activity she had begun in Iowa). Her murals can be found in several public locations around Santa Barbara including outside the courthouse. Soon after her move to California, Sutcliffe purchased two letterpresses and began printing letterpress book editions with linocut illustrations.

In 1984, she purchased a Macintosh computer and expanded her business to include designing type for the Macintosh. Thereafter, she divided her business activities between tile and type.

Sutcliffe moved back to Audubon in 1996. Sutcliffe was involved in the production of several books in addition to the letterpress volumes she prints herself. She published her father's autobiography, Memories of an Iowa Veterinarian, and a book on tuberculosis which she co-authored with her mother, Grandma Cherry's Spoon: A Story of Tuberculosis. Sutcliffe also published a coloring book of her nature drawings entitled California Wildflower Drawings. She died in 2021 in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.


5.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Tile artist and printer who formed Greentree Enterprises in Audubon, Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 121) were donated by Judith Ann Sutcliffe in 1994 and succeeding years.

Related Publications

Shelved in closed stacks:

Printing Business

Strange Happenings at Brandenburg Surf (1984) (illustrated and hand bound by Sutcliffe)

Poems of Lotte Lehman (1987)

Lotte Lehman: An Opera Alphabet (1988)

American Type Designers (1995)


Portfolio flower prints,1984 (5 portfolios)

Related Materials

Joan Liffring-Zug papers (State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City)

Sue Reed papers (IWA): These papers contain material relating to the Iowa First Ladies Dolls in Inaugural Gowns collection, a project that Judith Sutcliffe participated in. See Box 1; Iowa American Revolution Bicentennial Commission; Iowa First Ladies Dolls in Inaugural Gowns album, 1977.

Marnie Schroer, 1994; Natalie Brody, 1997; Robert J. Jett, 1999; June Silliman and Annette Bramstedt, 2010; Katie Gandhi, 2016
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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)