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Frances Graham papers

Identifier: IWA0862

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Scope and Contents

The Frances Graham papers date from 1912 to 2010 and measure 8 linear feet. The papers are arranged in seven series: General, Education, 4-H, History, Civic and Club Activities, Ona Graham, and Artifacts.

The General series (1973-2010) contains biographical information about John and Frances Graham, notes on the collection provided by the donor at accession, and material regarding the unsuccessful attempt to pass a bill naming the ladybug Iowa's official state insect.

The Education series (1935-2005) includes Frances Graham's high school scrapbook, as well as items from Iowa State University, where she studied in the Family and Consumer Sciences department, and University of Northern Iowa, which contains material pertaining to a correspondence course Graham completed in the 1970s.

The 4-H series (1914-2009) documents Frances Graham's lifelong involvement with the organization. There are materials from her time as a young woman with Linn County's B-Natural group, including scrapbooks, resource materials, and items related to a Posture Project entered in the Iowa State Fair. The series also contains materials regarding her service as an adult leader with Fayette County's Alpha Clover Leaves and induction into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame.

The History series (1912-2010) documents Graham's career as an amateur historian and her avid interest in local history. Included are materials regarding her involvement with the Iowa Local History Museum Association (ILHMA), Fayette County's celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976, the Iowa Sesquicentennial in 1996, and a grant-funded oral history project called "The Way We Were" that Graham organized with the Fayette County Historical Consortium.

The Civic and Club Activities series (1949-2010) covers Graham's wide involvement in community activities. Civic participation in events such as jury duty, History Day, elections and caucus, and groups such as music boosters and the Hawkeye, Public Library Board is represented, as well as records and materials from the large number of clubs she participated in: the Daughters of the American Revolution, the American Association of University Women, History and Travel Club, and the Iowa and Fayette Federations of Women's Clubs are among those represented.

The Ona Graham series (1938-1992) contains items relating to Frances Graham's mother-in-law, Ona Graham, primarily diaries covering a five-decade span. Among the ephemera included alongside the diaries is correspondence from the Graham children to their grandmother from all three of the state's regent universities.

The Artifacts series (1961-2000) contains a number of items, including awards plaques and artifacts relating to historical anniversaries such as t-shirts from the Iowa State Sesquicentennial celebrations in 1996.

The following items are housed in the Iowa Women's Archives printed works collection:

Kalona: The First Century, 1879-1979. (Kalona, Iowa: Kalona Centennial Committee, 1979).

A Century of Home Economics at Iowa State University: A proud past, a lively present, a future promise. By Ercel Sherman Eppright and Elizabeth Storm Ferguson (Ames, Iowa: The Iowa State University Home Economics Alumni Association, 1971).

Out of the Midwest: A Portrait. Edited by Helen Moeller (Marceline, Missouri: Walsworth Publishing Company, 1976).

Heritage of Fayette County, Iowa, 1996. (Fayette County, Iowa: Fayette County, Iowa Heritage Book Committee, 1996).

Out of the Night. By Ellen Biles James (New York, New York: Pageant Press, Inc., 1961).


  • Creation: 1912-2010


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

Frances Ruth Hill Graham, amateur historian and clubwoman, was born in Coggon, Iowa, in 1921, the first of Ruth and Lacy Dewitt "L.D." Hill's three children. A lifelong supporter of 4-H, Graham's membership in the Linn County "Be Natural" 4-H club sparked an interest in home economics. After earning a degree in Home Economics from Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) in 1943, Frances Hill took a position teaching Vocational Homemaking in Kalona, Iowa. Two years later, in 1945 she moved to West Union to teach Homemaking.

In the spring of 1947, Frances Hill met her future husband John Graham, a farmer and World War II veteran. The two were married in December of the same year. Frances Graham was a member of the Eastern Star, and John, a Mason. The Grahams moved to a farm near Hawkeye, Iowa, where they raised three children: John R., James, and Willona (named after her paternal grandparents, William and Ona).

Frances Graham joined the History and Travel Club of Hawkeye in 1958, which led to her lengthy career as an amateur Iowa historian. During the 1970s, Graham chaired both the Fayette County Federated Women's Clubs and the Fayette County Bicentennial Commission, overseeing many bicentennial activities. In 1996 she was given the Iowa Volunteer Award by Governor Terry Branstad. John W. Graham died in 1999, after fifty-two years of marriage. In 2010 Frances Graham moved to Johnston, Iowa, to live with her daughter and son-in-law.


8.00 Linear Feet

Five audio cassettes (AC1367-1371); Artifacts in boxes 20, 21, 22. items

Language of Materials



Amateur historian and clubwoman from Fayette County, Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1225) were donated by Willona Goers in 2010.

Related Materials

The papers of Carrie Lindahl, Frances Graham's aunt, are held in the Iowa Women's Archives.

Margaret Halterman
Language of description
Script of description

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)