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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Proteus Club (Des Moines) records

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1896-2009
Creator: Proteus Club (Des Moines, Iowa)
Extent: 2.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0096
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Women's study club organized in 1896 by college graduates for their intellectual improvement.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in box 6.

Access: The records are open for research.

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

Acquisition: The records (donor no. 156) were donated by the Proteus Club, Des Moines, Iowa in 1993, 1997, and 2009.

Preferred Citation: Proteus Club (Des Moines) records, 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
Email: lib-women@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa

In October of 1896, seven young women, having graduated from college and finished touring Europe, founded the Proteus Club. In Greek mythology Proteus was a learned sage with knowledge of all things past, present, and future. The object of this newly formed club was intellectual improvement. A letter, written in 1937 by Louise Elbert Everett, founding member, recalls the small group of women who "....met together and unhesitantly decided, (to) have a study club....swathed in many underpinnings, long skirts, high-boned collars, lots of hair, hour-glass figures,...we had a beautiful and sublime trust in God, our country, our state, our city, our families, ourselves." The membership soon grew to 25. In 1922 the first delegates were appointed to the city and State Federation of Women's Clubs.

Members take turns preparing papers to be read at the club's meetings. A wide range of topics has been dealt with over the years, including: "Is co-education desirable?", "Should a married woman hold a job?", the League of Nations, American diplomacy, planning and zoning in Des Moines, Golda Meir, Iowa wetlands, Gorbachev, Native Americans, computers and alcoholism.

One of the remarkable characteristics of Proteus is longevity, both in the members and the club itself. Many members have remained active until their deaths, some for 70 years or more. In 1993 the club had 58 members, the longest active member having joined in 1938.

Noteworthy projects of the club include publishing a cook book to raise funds for an art gallery in 1900, supporting two war orphans in France and Belgium during the first world war, buying and selling towels made by the blind, and donating materials to the Des Moines Art Center.

The Proteus Club records measure 2.5 linear feet and date from 1896 to 2009.  The records are arranged in four series: Administrative files, Programs, Photographs, and Projects.
 
The first series, Administrative files (1897-1996), includes the constitution, by-laws, and articles of incorporation; correspondence (including one letter from the Woman's Peace Party and one letter from the Woman's Section of the Navy League of the United States); financial reports; and a history written in 1993 by Mrs. Julian (Win) Bruner.  A nearly complete set of minutes, dating from 1897-1911 and 1917-1986 forms the core of this series.
 
Programs (1900-2009) are arranged in three sub-series: Papers presented at meetings, Special events and celebrations, and Program yearbooks.  Papers, dating primarily from the 1970s to the 2000s, are arranged chronologically.  A list of authors and titles is appended.  In 1913 the club presented a skit that parodied the British suffragettes, entitled "The Militant Husbandette."  A booklet containing photographs and text from the performance is included in the special events and celebrations sub-series.  The club's twentieth (1917) through the seventy-fifth (1971) anniversaries are represented by various speeches, skits, newspaper clippings, and papers.  Program yearbooks contain lists of the club's officers, members, and papers presented.
 
Photographs (1937, 1980, 1996, 2003) consist of two group photos from 1937 showing members wearing clothing from the early 1800s, a 1980 photograph, photographs from the Centennial Celebration meeting on October 7, 1996, and a 2003 group photo..
 
The Projects series contains a recipe box and cards dating from 1909 and the Proteus Club cookbook from 1900.  Both of these were used as fund raisers.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: ADMINISTRATIVE FILES
Series 2: PROGRAMS
Series 3: PHOTOGRAPHS
Series 4: PROJECTS

  • Series 1: ADMINISTRATIVE FILES
  • Box 1:
  • Certificates and awards - 1951
  • Constitution, by-laws and articles of incorporation: Original constitution - 1899
  • Constitution, by-laws and articles of incorporation - 1906-1977
  • Correspondence
  • General [includes one letter from Woman's Peace Party and one letter from Woman's Section of the Navy League of The United States] - 1915-1942
  • Anniversary letters - 1916, 1947, 1971
  • "Des Moines' Proteus Club: A Celebration of the First One Hundred Years-1896-1996" - 1996
  • Financial report and statement - 1943, 1947
  • Handbooks: Roberts Rules Of Order - 1915
  • Handbooks: The Twentieth Century Clubwoman - 1952
  • History
  • History (1896-1993) - 1993
  • Paper presented at meeting: Wijkman, Mrs. Per "Proteus Past" - 1978-1979
  • Insurance policy [includes partial list of paintings insured] - 1905-1906, 1937
  • Lists of presidents (1896-1990) - 1990
  • Minutes (October 17, 1897-September 29, 1902) - 1897-1902
  • Minutes (September 30, 1902-May 8, 1911) - 1902-1911
  • Box 2:
  • Minutes - 1917-1921
  • Minutes - 1922-1928
  • Minutes - 1929-1939
  • Minutes - 1940-1949
  • Minutes - 1950-1959
  • Minutes - 1960-1971
  • Minutes - 1972-1979
  • Box 3:
  • Minutes - 1980-1986
  • Chronology of minutes - 1896-1956
  • Proteus relationships - 1996
  • Series 2: PROGRAMS
  • Box 3:
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Nollen, Hanna T.: "A Master-Poet And His Masterpiece" [Virgil] - 1900-1940
  • Nollen, Hanna T.: "Please Pass The Moon" - 1900-1940
  • Nollen, Hanna T.: "Semantics" - 1900-1940
  • "Art" - 1900-1940
  • "English=The Universal" - 1900-1940
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Bragg, Mrs. James O. "Duveen" - 1950-1958
  • Nollen, Hanna T. "Whither-Mid-Century" - 1950-1958
  • Nollen, Hanna T. "How Civilized Are We?" - 1950-1958
  • Nollen, Hanna T. "Eat And Grow Thin" [the pursuit of happiness] - 1950-1958
  • Bragg, Mrs. James O. "Planning & Zoning" - 1950-1958
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Bragg, Mrs. James O. "Refugees and Buccaneers" [Bahamas and the West Indies] - 1964-1968
  • Parker, Louise L. "Abigail Adams -- 1744-1818 Our Second First Lady" - 1964-1968
  • Wijkman, Ruth Wallace "Are We Shaping Up?" - 1964-1968
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Hunter, Ellen M. "On The Rocks" [Isabella Bird Bishop] - 1970-1973
  • Levine, Mrs. Arnold "American Humor Today - Or The Lack Of It" - 1970-1973
  • Riley, Mary Ann "Ms Mother" - 1970-1973
  • Jones, Nancy "The Nomads" - 1970-1973
  • O'Reilly, Phoebe "Pro Or Con Of Woman's Lib" - 1970-1973
  • Brammer, M.L. "Golda Meir" - 1970-1973
  • Hunter, Carolyn "Mary Wollstonecraft (Shelley)" - 1970-1973
  • Proctor, Alice "Dear Indira" - 1970-1973
  • Curtis, Marty "I'm Okay, You're Okay: But We're Both Under 50" - 1970-1973
  • Bragg, Mrs. James O. "What Makes The World Go Round" [The family] - 1970-1973
  • Marquardt, Sara "Is Woman Creative?" - 1970-1973
  • Dickinson, Mrs. L. Call "The Animal That Laughs" - 1970-1973
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Riley, Mrs. Robert "Humanistic Psychology" - 1974-1975
  • Kruidenier, Elizabeth S. "Behavior Modification: Is It The Solution...Or The Problem?" - 1974-1975
  • Fleming, Ann "The Producer Versus The Environmentalist" - 1974-1975
  • Bastian, Mrs. Ralph "Highchair to wheelchair" [American furniture] - 1974-1975
  • Jones, Esther "How The Colonists Grow Their Food" - 1974-1975
  • Wallace, Helen J. "Constitutional Labor Pains" - 1974-1975
  • Weitz, Sally "The Founding Fathers" - 1974-1975
  • Marquardt, Sara C. "Reflections Of Cycles" - 1974-1975
  • Shiffler, LuVern "Counterfeiting" - 1974-1975
  • Blackburn, Helen Steadman "Evolution of the Declaration of INTERdependence" - 1974-1975
  • Haines, Betty "The Presidents And The White House" - 1974-1975
  • Brenton, Mrs. W. Harold "Cheers" - 1974-1975
  • Kruidenier, Mrs. David "Why I am an Independent" - 1974-1975
  • Wilson, Mrs. George "Why I am a Republican" - 1974-1975
  • Weitz, Emily "Our Monumental Sculpture" [Earth] - 1974-1975
  • Dickinson, Betty "From the King's English to Current Jargon" - 1974-1975
  • Papers presented at meetings - 1976-1977
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Bragg, Mrs. James "The Persian - Arabian Gulf; Today's Black Gold - Tomorrow's Enigma" - 1978-1979
  • Mills, Clara "The Future Of Optimism" - 1978-1979
  • O'Reilly, Phoebe "Is There A Future To Growing Old?" - 1978-1979
  • Hein, Peggy "A Turn To The Right" - 1978-1979
  • Kruidenier, Liz "A Sharp Medicine" [The death penalty] - 1978-1979
  • Brenton, Mrs. Robert C. "Healing, Mind Over Matter?" - 1978-1979
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Wilson, Genie "Railroading" - 1980-1981
  • Bucksbaum, Kay "The Press-Freedom For And Freedom From?" - 1980-1981
  • Blackburn, Helen Steadman "Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet" - 1980-1981
  • Shiffler, LuVern "Tasty?" [Etiquette] - 1980-1981
  • Phillips, Mrs. T. Ward "Medicine Discovers Man" - 1980-1981
  • Michel, Shirley "Peripatetic Parenting" - 1980-1981
  • Riley, Mary Ann "The Quality Of Life" - 1980-1981
  • Riley, Mary Ann "Quality Of Art" - 1980-1981
  • Bastian, Margaret Ann "Re-Industrialization - 'An Economic Challenge'" - 1980-1981
  • Mills, Claire "Capability Equals Quality" - 1980-1981
  • Box 4:
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Marquardt, Sara "Bringing Up Quality" - 1982-1983
  • Hunter, Ellen "A Volunteer Looks at Voluntarism" - 1982-1983
  • Curtis, Mrs. Hugh E. "Quality Leisure" - 1982-1983
  • Bragg, Janna "Clans, Conquests, Colonies and Coups" [South America] - 1982-1983
  • Furbush, Mrs. Fran "The Mother Lode" - 1982-1983
  • Dickinson, Betty "Methuselah Did - Can We?" [Aging] - 1982-1983
  • Hunter, Carolyn "Russian Rebus" - 1982-1983
  • Proctor, Mrs. William "Modern Humor II" - 1982-1983
  • O'Reilly, Mrs. Joseph "One Woman Can Make A Difference" - 1982-1983
  • "Re-Industrialization -- An Economic Challenge" - 1982-1983
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Murphy, Mrs. Ray "Diana In Adidas" - 1984-1986
  • Michel, Mrs. Raymond "Clay: Tea and Chicken Soup" - 1984-1986
  • Riley, Mary Ann "...And Ladies of the Club" - 1984-1986
  • Wilson, Genie "A Genealogical Journey" - 1984-1986
  • Bucksbaum, Kay "Anyone For Adventure" - 1984-1986
  • Dorner, Vernell H. "Addictive Trips" - 1984-1986
  • Levine, Caroline "Journey Beyond War" - 1984-1986
  • Baldwin, Pat "To Hell And Back" [Dante] - 1984-1986
  • Bloodgood, Jeanne "Journey Through Culture" [Egypt] - 1984-1986
  • Phillips, Helen "Witchcraft" - 1984-1986
  • Marquardt, Sara "When Is Cow Not A Cow?" [Symbolism] - 1984-1986
  • Pearsall, Virginia "Reaching Out In New Ways" [Technology] - 1984-1986
  • Worthen, Amy Namowitz "Drawing Near" [Visual arts] - 1984-1986
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Pearsall, Virginia "Memory" - 1987-1989
  • Blackburn, Helen Steadman "The Unsettling Dream" [Immigration] - 1987-1989
  • Harmon, Muffy "Scruples" - 1987-1989
  • Fleming, Ann "Iowa Wetlands" - 1987-1989
  • Harper, Mary "Not noing how to reed gud" [Literacy] - 1987-1989
  • Bragg, Janna "Can Man Reverse His Folly?" [The environment] - 1987-1989
  • Kenworthy, Ann "For God's Sake-Laugh!" - 1987-1989
  • Mills, Clare "Nonsense and Whimsey" - 1987-1989
  • Fleming, Allison "Juvenile Justice" - 1987-1989
  • Furbush, Bo "Disposing Of Waste" - 1987-1989
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Brown, Sibylla "TOWARD 2014" - 1990
  • Proctor, Alice "Forgetting to Remember" - 1990
  • Worthen, Amy "Annual Meeting and Discussion: Approaching The Millennium" - 1990
  • Riley, Kay "New Age Thinking: Scientific Discoveries That Have Affected It or Rethinking Our Thinking" - 1990
  • Riley, Mary Ann "Passion And Pretense" - 1990
  • Murphy, June "Your Board Of Regents" - 1990
  • Brenton, Babette "Women Behind The Veil: Life Within The Hidden World Of Islam Or Purdah" - 1990
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Michel, Shirley "The Mediterranean Sea: A Sailor's Log" - 1991
  • Blackburn, Helen "Searching For Solutions: The World Wide Problem Of Illegal Drugs" - 1991
  • Bloodgood, Jean "An American Legacy" [Native Americans] - 1991
  • Archer, Jean "Wallace's Farmer" - 1991
  • Phillips, Helen "Our Indian Heritage" - 1991
  • Milligan, Judy "A Courage Of Place" [Iowa] - 1991
  • Papers presented at meetings
  • Bucksbaum, Kay "Ripe Times" [Societal change] - 1992-1993
  • Wilson, Genie "What Makes Us Tick?" - 1992-1993
  • Harmon, Muffy "Creative Thinking, Bitte" - 1992-1993
  • Pearsall, Virginia B. "The Gorbachev Revolution" - 1992-1993
  • McReynolds, Helen "The Family Disease" [Drug addiction] - 1992-1993
  • Papers presented at meetings: Undated
  • "Modern Trends In Education"
  • "The Middletown Spirit"
  • "The Origin Of The English Drama"
  • "The Persians At Our Gates"
  • "On Japan & China"
  • "Adventures In Pictography"
  • Special events and celebrations: "The Militant Husbandette" - 1913
  • Twentieth anniversary - 1917
  • Thirtieth anniversary - 1927
  • Fortieth anniversary - 1937
  • Fiftieth anniversary - 1946
  • Sixtieth anniversary - 1956
  • Box 5:
  • Seventy-fifth anniversary - 1971
  • Dinner program/invitation - 1900, 1901
  • Eulogies - 1966, 1980
  • Program yearbooks - 1899-1901
  • Program yearbooks - 1908/09-1921/22
  • Program yearbooks - 1922/23-1939/40
  • Program yearbooks - 1940/41-1956/57
  • Program yearbooks - 1957/58-1974/75
  • Program yearbooks - 1975/76-1992/93
  • Series 3: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 5:
  • Photographs - 1937, 1980
  • Photographs - 1996, 2003
  • Series 4: PROJECTS
  • Box 6:
  • Recipe Box with cards - 1909
  • Proteus Club Cook Book - 1900
  • Wood block