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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Sarah White papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1941-1979
Creator: White, Sarah Dykstra (1905-1979)
Extent: 7.50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0077
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Correspondence and circle letters of a northwestern Iowa farmwoman.

Access: The papers are open for research.

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

Acquisition: The Sarah Dykstra White papers(donor no. 131) were donated by Jeane Van Voorhis White in 1999.

Preferred Citation: Sarah White 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

Sarah Berniece Dykstra was born on November 3, 1905 to Della Bonthius Dykstra and Ralph Dykstra. Sarah Dykstra was the second child, coming two years after her sister Dorothy, and preceding two boys, Clarence and Andrew. Dykstra grew up in Roseland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago heavily populated by Dutch immigrants. Just before her senior year in high school, the Dykstra family moved to a farm near Rock Valley in northwest Iowa. Because Sarah Dykstra had not had algebra in her previous high school she was required to take it at Rock Valley. Stanley White, her future husband, on leave from his studies at Iowa State University, was the algebra teacher that year.

After graduating from high school in 1923, Sarah Dykstra and her family moved to Pasadena, California. Shortly after the move, her father left the family, taking the two boys and moving to Chicago. Following the separation there was some bitterness between the boys and their sisters, and it would be several years before relationships between the siblings improved.

After his graduation from Iowa State University in 1925, Stanley White hitchhiked to California to renew his acquaintance with his former pupil. Sarah Dykstra, who had been working at I. Magnin´s department store, decided to get additional education at this time and entered Pasadena Community College. Stanley White took various jobs until Dykstra graduated in 1927. The couple married on June 28, 1927 and in March 1928 they returned to Dallas Center, Iowa where Stanley took over the operation of his father´s farm. The White family lived on the farm for fifty years, raising their four children: Jeane (b1928), Carolyn (b1929), Donald (b1933) and Janice (b1938).

In 1979 Sarah Dykstra White died in a single car accident.

The Sarah Dykstra White papers date from 1941 to 1979 and measure 7.5 linear inches. The papers are arranged in two series: Biographical and Correspondence. The Biographical series contains a biographical sketch of Sarah Dykstra White written by her daughter Jeane Van Voorhis White. It also contains a pedigree chart of the Dykstra family and copies of family photographs. The Correspondence series supplies the bulk of the White papers. White took part in a "circle letter" which went around to her siblings. When letters came to her, she took out the last letter she had written and saved it. She also saved individual letters she received. The letters are arranged in chronological order, spanning the years 1941 to 1979. White's daughter Jeane Van Voorhis White transcribed the letters and provided a personnel glossary for various names mentioned in the letters.
Lucy Van Voorhis White papers (IWA): Lucy Van Voorhis White was Sarah Dykstra White's mother-in-law.

Browse by Series:

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 1:
  • Biographical sketch of Sarah Dykstra White by her daughter Jeane Van Voorhis White, undated
  • Pedigree chart of Dykstra family, undated
  • Photographs (copies) - 1915-1978
  • Box 1:
  • Personnel glossary, undated
  • Letters (7 folders) - 1941-1979
  • Transcriptions (3 folders) - 1941-1956
  • Box 2:
  • Transcriptions (4 folders) - 1957-1979