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Wallace Women History Project

Identifier: IWA0403

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Scope and Contents

The collection consists of transcriptions of thirteen oral histories, which were conducted in 1974 and 1994. Most of the oral histories were collected at the Living History Farms in Des Moines, Iowa or by telephone. They measure 2.5 linear inches and are arranged alphabetically.

Charles Bruggmann is the son of Mary Wallace Bruggmann, who was Henry A. Wallace's sister. In this interview, Bruggmann talks about his mother Mary, and reminisces about his experience growing up in a diplomatic family. In particular, Bruggmann describes what it was like living in Prague when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia.  He also describes his mother as dedicated to her husband Charles Bruggmann (senior) and family and very involved in the politics of foreign service.

Dominique Bruggmann is the wife of the late William Bruggmann, Mary Wallace Bruggmann's son. In this interview, Bruggmann describes, in a personal way, her relationship with her mother-in-law Mary Bruggmann. She describes Mary as a "grande dame," a woman who was very self-disciplined, but also had a good sense of humor. She claims that Mary spoke several languages fluently and loved politics.  She also speaks about Mary's battle with cancer and her death.

Sibylle Bruggmann is Charles Bruggmann's wife. Per Wijkman is the son of Ruth Wallace Wijkman, another sister of Henry A. Wallace. In this interview, Bruggmann describes Mary Wallace Bruggmann as a warm and welcoming mother-in-law. Wijkman describes his mother Ruth as charming, gracious, modest, and very involved in the politics of his father's position at the Swiss Embassy. Wijkman reminisces about living in Finland during the outbreak of WWII, and tells a story that exemplifies his mother's heroism. Both Bruggmann and Wijkman agree that the Wallace women share a number of family characteristics, such as hardiness, a "pioneer spirit," a great sense of duty, bravery, courage, a positive attitude towards life, discipline, intelligence, and an appreciation for art.

Agnes Bollesen Carlson was a full-time employee of Henry A. Wallace and his wife Ilo for seven years. Carlson was the family cook and baker. She was employed with the family during Wallace's tenure as vice-president. In this interview, she talks about her work helping the Wallaces entertain political figures in Washington, D.C., including Nelson Rockefeller and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Martha Ashby Carr and Nancy Ashby Milloy are the daughters of Wallace Ashby, who was the son of Harriet Wallace Ashby, the sister of Henry C. Wallace. William Clark Ashby is the son of Newton Ashby, Wallace's brother and Harriet's son. Rhoda Ashby is Clark's wife. In this interview, most of the conversation revolves around Aunt Josephine, who was Henry C. Wallace's sister. Josephine was a photographer and music teacher, who lived part of her life in the southwest. She was very artistic and loved gardening. As a woman to whom social status was very important, Josephine loved to entertain and was interested in fashion. She is described as "charming, lively, bright, and vivacious." Aunt Nanette is also discussed; Nanette was the daughter of Harriet Wallace Ashby. Nanette had a Ph.D. in American Southwest Literature, and was dean of women at the New Mexico State Teachers College and an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Finally, Genevieve Hoffman, another daughter of Harriet Wallace Ashby, is mentioned. Hoffman was married to a Presbyterian campus minister.

Miriam (Christina) Wijkman Glickman is the daughter of Ruth Wallace Wijkman, the sister of Henry A. Wallace. In this interview, Glickman details her experience growing up in a diplomatic family. She describes her mother Ruth as a woman who bore the burdens of foreign service quietly, without complaint; a woman who was stoic and unemotional. She also talks about Annabelle, Ruth's older sister, whom she depicts as less reserved and more adventurous. Glickman documents Annabelle's participation in local social movements. She believes that the Wallace women have managed to transmit a feeling of social concern for the outside world throughout several successive generations.

Lani Kausch worked for Henry A. and Ilo Wallace for twenty-three years as a cook, from 1951 to 1974. In this interview, Kausch details her experience helping the Wallaces entertain political figures in Washington, D.C. She also describes Henry A. Wallace's bout with sclerosis, and his eventual death.

Angus McLay is the son of Annabelle Wallace McLay, the sister of Henry A. Wallace. In this interview, McLay describes his mother as opinionated and intellectual. He documents her participation in the League of Women Voters during the late 1920s and early 30s, the Association of University Women, and the Democratic Party. McLay claims his mother was always involved in volunteer projects for underprivileged people. At one point, Annabelle served as a clinic supervisor for the Planned Parenthood organizations in Pontiac and Royal Oak, Michigan.

Annabelle J. McLay is the sister of Henry A. Wallace. Annabelle W. McLay is her daughter. In this interview, McLay (Annabelle J.) talks about her father's background. Henry C. Wallace graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Agriculture. He created the Wallaces' Farmer magazine, and later became Secretary of Agriculture under President Harding. McLay reveals that George Washington Carver was a fellow agricultural student with her father, and claims that Henry A. Wallace's love of experimental agriculture was inspired by Carver. McLay recounts how her father became active in politics. She also talks about her own involvement in politics. She started the Birmingham chapter of the League of Women Voters, along with Dorothy Roosevelt. She was also active in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and in the suffrage movement.

Louise Noun was a neighbor of the Henry C. Wallaces. In this interview, Noun describes her experience growing up near the Wallace family. Noun's sister was friends with Ruth Wallace Wijkman and was an original member of the Junior League organization that Ruth initiated, which was unique because the Noun family is Jewish. Noun credits this event to Ruth, whom she describes as "quiet" and "non-aggressive."

Betty Ann Warner is the daughter of Gertrude White, who was a close friend of Ilo Browne Wallace. Warner is also friends with Jean Wallace, Henry A. and Ilo Wallace's daughter. In this interview, Warner talks primarily about Ilo and Jean Wallace. She recounts Ilo's unhappy childhood and explains how Ilo became like a surrogate member of the White household. She describes Ilo as dignified, but with a good sense of humor. Of Jean, Warner claims she is a talented artist and is dedicated to the environmental and conservation movements.

Ruth Wallace Wijkman is the sister of Henry A. Wallace. In this 1974 interview, Wijkman talks about her grandfather Henry Wallace, a Presbyterian minister and farmer. Wijkman reminisces about growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, about moving to Washington, D.C. while her father served as Secretary of Agriculture, and about meeting her husband Per. Wijkman recounts her experience living in Finland during the outbreak of World War II, about her husband's diplomatic posts in Canada and later in India, and about his retirement. Wijkman briefly discusses Henry A. Wallace, his educational background, and the family history of their mother May Brodhead Wallace.

Ruth Wallace Wijkman is the sister of Henry A. Wallace. In this 1994 interview, Wijkman repeats many of the stories from her initial interview. In addition, she talks about her musical interests, the children's songs and verses she has written, her children, her volunteer work in Des Moines for the symphony, her years as a diplomatic wife, and her Aunt Josephine.

The Wallace Family:

Ashby, Harriet Wallace [sister of Henry C. Wallace]

Ashby, William Clark [grandson of Harriet Wallace Ashby]

Ashby, Rhoda [wife of Clark Ashby]

Carr, Martha Ashby [granddaughter of Harriet Wallace Ashby]

Milloy, Nancy Ashby    [granddaughter of Harriet Wallace Ashby]

Bruggmann, Mary Wallace [sister of Henry A. Wallace]

Bruggmann, Charles [son of Mary Wallace Bruggmann]

Bruggmann, Sibylle [wife of Charles Bruggmann]

Bruggmann, Dominique [widow of Mary Wallace Bruggmann's son William Bruggmann]

McLay, Annabelle J. [sister of Henry A. Wallace]

McLay, Angus [son of Annabelle J. McLay]

McLay, Annabelle W. [daughter of Annabelle J. McLay]

Wijkman, Ruth Wallace [sister of Henry A. Wallace]

Glickman, Miriam (Christina) Wijkman [daughter of Ruth Wallace Wijkman]

Wijkman, Per [son of Ruth Wallace Wijkman]


  • Creation: 1974-1994


Conditions Governing Access

The oral histories are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been retained by the narrators, with the exception of Martha Ashby Carr, William C. Ashby, Rhoda Ashby, and Per Wijkman.

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

The Wallace Women History Project is a series of interviews conducted by independent scholar Virginia Wadsley with members of the Henry Wallace family. The interviews were funded by the Wallace family. The collection consists of thirteen interviews, two conducted by Patricia L. Pilling and Peg Anderson in 1974, and the remaining interviews conducted by Wadsley in 1994.

The Wallace family settled in the state of Iowa in the nineteenth century. Reverend Henry Wallace was a Presbyterian minister who moved to Des Moines and later acquired several farms. His family subsequently became associated with agriculture and politics. Reverend Wallace, followed by his children and grandchildren, were responsible for creating and editing Wallace's Farmer, an agricultural magazine.

Wallace's son Henry C. Wallace and grandson Henry A. Wallace became Secretaries of Agriculture under Presidents Warren G. Harding and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, respectively. Henry A. Wallace also served as Roosevelt's vice-president. Two of Reverend Wallace's granddaughters, Mary Wallace Bruggmann and Ruth Wallace Wijkman, married foreign diplomats and dedicated themselves to foreign service during World War II. The entire Wallace family boasts a rich legacy of farming and experimental agriculture, with strong attachments to the state of Iowa.


2.50 linear inches

Language of Materials



Transcripts of 13 oral history interviews describe the experiences of the Henry Wallace family in Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The oral histories (donor no. 573) were donated by Virginia Wadsley in 1998.

Emily Broeckling, 2003
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)