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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Gladys Spayde papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1932-1982
Creator: Spayde, Gladys (1919-2004)
Extent: 11.00 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0042
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Stage actress who spent her childhood in Saskatchewan and was a teacher in Fairfield, Iowa.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 753) were donated by Gladys Spayde in 2001.

Preferred Citation: Gladys Spayde papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason

Gladys Spayde was born in Fargo, North Dakota in 1919. Her mother, Ida Carlson, was a country schoolteacher, and her father, John Alfred Carlson, was a wheat salesman. Both were Canadian. Spayde, therefore, spent much of her early childhood in Saskatchewan. When Spayde was 12, her mother died of a heart condition, followed by her father a year later due to a stroke. Spayde went to live with her aunt and uncle, Esther and Fritz Helstrom, in Vermillion, South Dakota. It was during her high school years that Spayde became actively involved in the theater, participating in speech, drama, and choral productions.

Spayde earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in1942. From there, she went on to perform in the Cleveland Playhouse as an actress, joining the USO Camp Shows ensemble during World War II. Her nine and a half month engagement took her to Italy and Germany, where the Camp Shows entertained American soldiers. As a tourist in Germany, Spayde was present in the press box during part of the Nuremberg Trials.

After the war, Spayde accepted a teaching position in Buffalo, New York, where she became a speech and drama educator. During the summers, Spayde enjoyed a recurring role as lead actress in the Black Hills Playhouse in South Dakota. It was during a Black Hills production that Spayde met her husband, director Sydney Spayde. The couple married in 1950. Spayde would eventually teach in schools in Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa. In 1969, she completed a Master of Arts degree in Speech from the University of South Dakota. While serving as English, Speech and Communications teacher in the Fairfield Community Public School System, Spayde was nominated for Iowa Teacher of the Year. Sidney and Gladys Spayde have a son, Jon.

The Gladys Spayde papers consist of one box, containing materials dating from 1934-1987, and four scrapbooks, dating from 1932 to 1982. The collection measures 11 linear inches. The box contains Spayde's diary from the USO, newspaper clippings, a pamphlet from the Nuremberg Trials, correspondence, play programs and photographs. The scrapbooks document four distinct periods in Spayde's life. The first scrapbook follows Spayde's junior high school days through her career in the USO, and includes play programs, newspaper clippings, USO travel documents, postcards, production photographs, and photographs of her fellow USO companions. The second scrapbook covers Spayde's post-war teaching years at Buffalo Seminary, and includes play programs, newspaper clippings, and production photographs from the plays of her students. The third scrapbook is devoted exclusively to her summers at the Black Hills Playhouse, and includes play programs, production photographs, and personal photographs. The fourth scrapbook was designed to highlight her 20-year teaching career at Fairfield Junior High School in Fairfield, Iowa, and includes a biography and family history, a description of Spayde's professional and teaching experience, her teaching philosophy, a self-teaching evaluation, photographs and newspaper clippings of her students, a detailed explanation of the curricula, and recommendation letters for Spayde's nomination for Iowa Teacher of the Year.

Browse by Series:

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 1:
  • Diary - 1945-1946
  • Newspaper clippings - 1945-2002
  • Nuremberg pamphlet - 1945
  • Correspondence - 1942-1951
  • Play programs
  • Photographs
  • Box 2:
  • Scrapbook - 1930-1940
  • Box 3:
  • Scrapbook - 1945-1949
  • Box 4:
  • Scrapbook - 1950-1954
  • Box 5:
  • Scrapbook - 1980-1984