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Shut-In Society records

Identifier: IWA0965

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Scope and Contents

The Shut-In Society records date from 1884-1897 and measure 5 linear inches. The records are arranged in two series: General and Artifacts.

The General Series contains member information, such as names and locations of individuals, the family lineage and descendants of George King Smith, a biography of Mary Davis Smith, the first wife of George King Smith, the family lineage and descendants of John Dixon Campbell, photos and descriptions of the children of Lydia (Smith) Northrop, a biography and obituary of Laura Campbell Smith (a member of the Shut-In Society who died in 1897). Finally, member information includes a copy of a Shut-In Society publication.

In addition, this series contains details about the individuals who contributed knitted blocks to the Society’s afghan project. This information refers to the afghan as both an afghan and a quilt. This series also includes the miscellaneous research files of Mary Bywater Cross (the donor), such as photocopies of various census records and articles, which may supplement the member information. Finally, the General Series includes a letter to Martha Smith of Monticello, Iowa and the autograph book of Laura Campbell Smith.

The Artifacts Series contains one artifact: a hand-knit afghan, which made by members and friends of the Shut-In Society and relatives of Miss Laura Campbell Smith in 1884.


  • Creation: 1884-1897

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

The Shut-In Society was a national organization that consisted of a “band of invalids,” or individuals with disabilities, from all over the country. Shut-In Society members connected and kept up an interest in each other through correspondence and the circulation of the Society’s paper publication.

References to this collection suggest that the Shut-In Society had a space at the World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago, IL in 1893.


5.00 linear inches

Language of Materials



A 19th-century community of invalids from across the country who kept in touch through correspondence and the Society publication. This collection includes a hand-knit afghan made by members and friends of the Shut-In Society and relatives of Miss Laura Campbell Smith.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Shut-In Society records (donor no. 1321) were donated by Mary Bywater Cross in 2016.

Finding Aid created by Katie Gandhi, 2016
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)