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Josephine Marie Pletscher papers

Identifier: IWA0913

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Scope and Contents

The Josephine Pletscher Papers date from 1922 to 2010 and measure 3.5 linear feet, with the majority of the materials dating from the mid-1950s and later. The collection reflects both Pletscher's interest in the career of her mentor and friend, Corita Kent, as well as her lasting connection to Immaculate Heart College. Over the course of several decades, Pletscher amassed a variety of materials related to Immaculate Heart College and Corita Kent. Her "Corita archive" became well-known among her former Immaculate Heart classmates, who then forwarded Pletscher their own keepsakes and other materials of interest.

The collection is arranged into ten series: Biographical Information, Correspondence, Immaculate Heart College, Corita Kent, Research Files, Photographs, Slides, Artwork, Artifacts, and Books.

The Biographical Information series includes information relating to Corita Kent as well as her extended family. Folders include obituaries of Corita Kent and her older sister, Sister Mary Ruth Kent, as well as family trees and pedigrees drawn up in the early 2000s. The series also includes a binder of newspaper clippings and family materials, gathered and put together by Pletscher.

The Correspondence series contains correspondence to Josephine Pletscher from friends and former classmates from Immaculate Heart College. It includes a small number of letters from Corita Kent, as well as Kent's brother, Mark. Much of this series consists of correspondence between Pletscher and Sister Mary Ruth Kent. The two began writing in 1986, shortly after Corita Kent's death, and continued to write to one another until Sister Mary Ruth's death in 2004.

Pletscher's relationship to Immaculate Heart College as both a student and an alumna is reflected in the third series, Immaculate Heart College. Reflecting Pletscher's time as a student, the series includes brochures, posters, and flyers produced by the Department of Fine Arts, as well as newspaper clippings about the college's fine arts department as well as its religious sisters. Copies of the IHC newsletters Comment, Irregular Bulletin, Tower Tattler, and Reunion, further provide a window into the life of the college in the 1960s.

Pletscher's alumna connection is reflected in newspaper clippings and alumni newsletters, dating from 1980 to the mid-2000s. Many of these discuss the closing of Immaculate Heart College in 1981, and the activities of its successor institution, the Immaculate Heart College Center, which itself closed in 2000.

The fourth series, Corita Kent, focuses on Corita Kent's career, and includes exhibit brochures, art sale flyers, price lists, and some examples of commissioned artwork. A rich variety of magazine and newspaper articles not only trace Kent's career, but also speak to her place in the cultural zeitgeist of the 1960s and 1970s. Also included are materials and correspondence relating to various academic and creative projects based on Kent's life; these include a doctoral dissertation, a play, and a PBS documentary, Primary Colors.

The Research Files series contains Pletscher's handwritten notes and research into Corita Kent's life and work. These notes were either compiled by Josephine Pletscher, or given to her by Sister Mary Ruth Kent. Some undated drafts and articles which may have been part of a book about Corita Kent are also included in this series.

Visual material is included in both the Photographs and Slides series. These both include photographs and slides of Corita Kent's artwork, as well as Immaculate Heart College. The Photographs series also includes several photographs of Kent's extended family.

The Artwork series comprises artwork by both Corita Kent and Josephine Pletscher. It includes twenty-seven serigraphs by Corita Kent, mostly dating from 1957 to the mid-1960s. It also includes twenty-one titled serigraphs by Josephine Pletscher, which date from 1961 to 1964. The series also includes a number of untitled serigraphs from the same period, as well as Christmas cards and miscellaneous artwork created by Pletscher from the 1960s to the mid-2000s.

The Artifacts series is composed of two items: a 1979 "I Love You Very" collector's plate, and Corita Kent's personal rosary beads, which were given to Pletscher by Sister Mary Ruth Kent. Books written or illustrated by Corita Kent form the bulk of the Books series, as well as several books tackling religious themes.


  • Creation: 1922-2015


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

Josephine Pletscher, artist and librarian, was born in Muscatine, Iowa, in 1917, and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. After graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1935, Pletscher studied at Drake University. She later worked as a sales representative for Addressograph Multigraph, a company that produced address labeling machines, in Des Moines. In 1959, Pletscher decided to formally pursue her interest in fine arts.

She moved to Los Angeles and enrolled as an art student at Immaculate Heart College, a Catholic college that was home to a lively and close-knit art department. At Immaculate Heart, Pletscher studied under art professor Corita Kent (then Sister Mary Corita Kent), whose influence left a lasting mark on Pletscher's own artistic sensibilities. She received her bachelors' degree from the college in 1962 and her masters' degree from the same institution in 1964.

While working as a fine arts reference librarian at the Pasadena Public Library, as well as libraries at Rio Hondo College and Santa Monica Community College, Pletscher continued to make art. Her preferred medium was the serigraph, but she was well-known among her friends and colleagues for her hand-designed Christmas cards. She exhibited her serigraphs at a variety of venues in southern California and central Iowa, as well as Japan and Germany. In 2011, Pletscher self-published her first children's book, The Little Doves, which was followed by her second book Hobo in Hollywood, in 2012.

Josephine Pletscher died in 2013.


3.50 Linear Feet

12 items (Several books related to Corita Kent are shelved in the IWA reading room stacks. )

Language of Materials



Artist, librarian, and student of Corita Kent.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1237) were donated by Kimberly Kirkpatrick Sparling and Ann Sayler In loving honor of Josephine Marie Pletscher, artist, Iowan, and student of Corita Kent.

Catherine Babikian
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)