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Alice and Meta Schwiebert papers

Identifier: IWA0889

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Scope and Contents

The Alice and Meta Schwiebert papers date from 1904 to 2000 and measure 1 linear foot in two boxes. The papers are arranged in two series: Alice Schwiebert and Meta Schwiebert. The Alice Schwiebert series contains a binder with information about her education and career. Highlights include photographs from Schwiebert’s clubs at Victor High School and Cornell College, comments and photographs of her career at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, accolades from her employers, materials from her time as the Director of Dormitories at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, such as a certificate from the Department of War and her dismissal documentation, and her second career working in elder services in the Linn County, Iowa area. Schwiebert’s application for Kirkwood Community College’s Office of Retirement Education and Other Opportunities, later called Heritage Agency on Aging, are included in this series. Schwiebert founded this organization and served as its director. Schwiebert’s certificates for Outstanding Older Iowan are within the binder. The series includes recreation guidebooks that Schwiebert used throughout her career. There are two folders relating to Schwiebert’s master’s studies.

The Meta Schwiebert series contains a biography binder created for her ninetieth birthday. The binder follows Schwiebert from her high school days through her post-retirement life, documenting her education and career as a social worker. There are photographs of her time at Cornell College and drafts of her master’s thesis within this series. There are photographs, newspaper clippings, and notes from Schwiebert’s career as a social worker focusing on settlement houses. Throughout the binder, there are autobiographical notes done in the 1980s recounting important milestones and newspaper clippings highlighting her work. There are a number of awards and letters of appreciation within the binder as well. Meta Schwiebert worked at a wide range of settlement houses throughout her career, focusing on family resources and education. Schwiebert was a founding member of the Council on Aging, and the series contains newspaper clippings about this. After retiring from their careers, the Schwiebert twins returned to Iowa and were very involved in their Cedar Rapids community. There are newspaper clippings and photographs in both Meta Schwiebert and Alice Schwiebert’s series about their work for elderly people, such as their store Eldercraft and the Elderfest festival and copies of both women’s obituaries are also held within their respective biographical binders.


  • Creation: 1904 - 1985


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

Alice and Meta Schwiebert were born on January 2, 1904, in Victor, Iowa to parents Herman and Meta Schwiebert. The twins had one older sister named Esther and two younger brothers, Homer and H. Arthur. The sisters were educated in a one-room school until seventh grade and attended eighth through twelfth grade in Victor, Iowa.

In high school, Alice Schwiebert was a member of glee club, the basketball team, yearbook staff, and the senior play. After graduating she studied at Central Wesleyan College in Warrenton, Missouri for a year before transferring to Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Schwiebert graduated from Cornell in 1925 with a BA with English, psychology, and speech. In her time at Cornell, she was on the basketball, hockey, and baseball teams and elected as president of the Women’s Athletic Association. After graduating from Cornell, Schwiebert taught high school English in Manchester, Iowa, where she also coached basketball, directed plays, and sponsored the newspaper. In 1929, Schwiebert began graduate studies in English at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois during the summer months. She continued teaching high school English in Hammond, Indiana. After earning an MA in 1935, Schwiebert continued to study at Northwestern in the School of Social Work and worked in the women’s dormitories as a counselor and director. In 1944, Alice Schwiebert moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee where she worked as the Assistant Director of Dormitories. Oak Ridge was the headquarters for the Manhattan Project and crucial work for the creation of the atomic bombs was conducted by over 75,000 workers living in dorms that Schwiebert directed. For her work, Schwiebert received a certificate stating she “contributed to the successful conclusion of World War II.”

Following her time at Oak Ridge, Schwiebert studied at the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture in sociology and psychology. She met all requirements for a Ph.D. except a dissertation. In 1948, Schwiebert went to conduct research for her dissertation with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, but in 1952 they offered her a job as the Director of Youth and Adult Education. Schwiebert worked with groups from counties to form task forces and allowed them to create their own plans for their county’s needs. She retired from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in in 1969.

Meta Schwiebert graduated from Victor High School in 1921 and, like her sister, attended Central Wesleyan College for a year before transferring to Cornell College where she graduated in 1925 with a B A in History and Sociology. After college, Schwiebert taught high school English and history in Kansas and Iowa. In 1931, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts where she worked at the South End House, a settlement house, as the Director of Girl’s Work. In 1935, Schwiebert moved to Chicago to direct the Bethlehem Creche and Settlement. She also began her graduate studies at Northwestern University. In 1937, Meta Schwiebert started working at the Child Education Foundation in New York City. She served as the Dean of Curriculum and Students and worked with New York University to implement the Montessori Method into their work. Several of the other staff members had been students of Maria Montessori. While in New York, Schwiebert continued her graduate education at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work. In 1942, Meta Schwiebert earned a master’s in social work from Northwestern University.

Following the completion of her master’s degree, Schwiebert worked for the Health Welfare Council of the Community Chest in Louisville, Kentucky and became an Assistant Professor of Group Work at Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville. In 1950, she returned to Chicago to work as Gads Hill Center Social Settlement’s Head Resident. She also served as a supervisor of students at the Jane Addams School of Social Work. While in Chicago, Schwiebert was involved in a number of organizations and committees centered around social services and improvement. In 1968, she retired.

In 1969, the Schwiebert twins bought a house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where they cared for their mother for a year. Both Alice and Meta Schwiebert were heavily involved with their community, volunteering and focusing on elder services in Linn County, Iowa. They founded Eldercraft Shop together, where they sold handiwork of seniors from the surrounding counties as a volunteer effort. Following the passage of the Older Americans Act (OAA), which provided funding for senior progams, both women were employed by organizations overseeing programs for seniors. According to their niece, Jo Wasta, throughout their careers, both Meta and Alice were very supportive aunts and their family felt loved by them.

In 1981, Alice Schwiebert was voted Outstanding Older Citizen of Linn County and went on to win Iowa’s Outstanding Senior Citizen. Alice Schwiebert died in 1986. Meta Schwiebert died in 1999 at age 95.


12 linear inches

Language of Materials



Twin sisters from Victor, Iowa who had social work careers in rural communities and settlement houses

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1345) were donated by Jo A. Wasta in 2014.

Beatrice Kearns, 2023
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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)