Mary Noble, a librarian and collector of historical photographs, was born in Berwyn, Illinois in 1945. She attended the Riceville, Iowa public schools, graduating from Riceville Community High School in 1963. She received her BA in Sociology from the University of Iowa in 1967 andher Master of Library Science degree from the University of Iowa in 1968. She was hired as a cataloger by the University of Iowa Libraries in 1968 and continued to work there through the next 3+ decades. She began collecting historical photographs in the 1980s, purchasing them at antique stores, photograph shows, and fleamarkets. After the Iowa Women's Archives opened in 1992 she began donating photographs to the archives, with special attention to images of women and by women photographers.
The Mary Noble Photograph Collection consists of postcards, cabinet cards, panoramic photographs, and various other types of photographs. Also included are papers that complement the collection, including information about Iowa photographers, and miscellaneous printed material. The collection is arranged in eight series: Professional women photographers in Iowa; Professional photographers in Iowa--Other; Photographic postcards; Photographs: various formats; Photographs: oversize; Glass negatives; Printed material; and Artifacts and miscellaneous items.
The first two series, Professional women photographers in Iowa and Professional photographers in Iowa--Other consist for the most part of studio portraits in the form of cabinet cards. Also included is some biographical information about individual women photographers, an article by Mary Noble entitled "Iowa's Women Professional Photographers," published in Books at Iowa (November 1996); and information on professional photographers in Iowa compiled by Joann Burgess.
The next four series have been arranged by format and size in order to facilitate storage, and are organized by subject within each series. These series are: Photographic postcards; Photographs: various formats; Photographs: oversize; and Glass negatives. The Photographic postcards are primarily amateur photographs printed as postcards. Many have messages written on the reverse, and photographs in a variety of formats depicting life in Iowa. The postcards, as well as the Photographs: various formats and Photographs: oversize depict buildings, street scenes, groups, recreational activities, and other aspects of life in Iowa. The Glass negatives consist of twenty-one glass negatives apparently taken by Otto F. Ney of Waukon in about 1908, depicting family and friends, as well as Waukon buildings.
Printed material includes souvenir cards given out by teachers to their students in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; booklets and brochures published by businesses and women's organizations; trade cards of Iowa businesses; and campaign cards of Verna O'Connor, who ran for county office in Garber, Iowa, in 1928 and 1932. Also in this series are several items published by the African-American printer W.E. Patten of Des Moines, including cardboard fans printed as advertisements. A 1940 Negro Business and Information Directory published by the Negro Business and Information Directory [published by Negro Chamber of Commerce, Des Moines], 1940, and a 73rd Anniversary Booklet and Program, 1872-1945 published by the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, Des Moines provide considerable information on African Americans in Des Moines in the 1940s.
Artifacts and miscellaneous items consists of an autograph book, a Woman's Home Missionary Society ribbon, and a packet of sewing machine needles given out as an advertisement by Mrs. M. L. Johnson of Britt, Iowa.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Use: Copyright information is not available.
Acquisition: The collection (donor no.150) was donated by Mary Noble in 1993 and succeeding years.
Preferred Citation: Noble Photograph collection, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.