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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Gretchen Harshbarger papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1900-1991
Creator: Harshbarger, Gretchen (1906-1989)
Extent: 1.25 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0122
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Landscape architect, author and photographer.

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. 281) were donated by Fritz Harshbarger. Additional material donated by Ruth and Sam Becker (donor no. 186) in 1997.

Preferred Citation: Gretchen Harshbarger 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
Email: lib-women@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa

Gretchen Fischer Harshbarger was born on March 22, 1906, in Shenandoah, Iowa, the daughter of Frederick and Helen Field Fischer and niece of Henry Field, founder of the Field Seed Company. For twenty-five years her mother broadcast from her home and was known as the radio "Flower Lady of the Midwest." Gretchen Fischer attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and graduated in 1928 from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, with a degree in landscape architecture. She received the Sands Memorial Medal for distinguished achievement and the Sampson Fine Arts Prize for Art Appreciation. In 1928 Fischer married H. Clay Harshbarger, who later served as chairman of the Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). They lived in Iowa City and had two sons, Fritz and Karl.

Gretchen Harshbarger was a nationally recognized professional landscape architect, author and photographer. She wrote the McCall's Garden Book (1968) and the Flower Family Album, with her mother, Helen Field, in 1940. She was also the garden editor for Household Magazine and American Homes and president of the Garden Writers' Association of America and the American Hemerocallis Society. Harshbarger received numerous national and local awards for her contributions to horticulture. In Iowa City she is remembered for her leadership in founding Project GREEN (Grow to Reach Environmental Excellence Now), a group devoted to beautifying public spaces. Harshbarger died in Iowa City in 1989.

The  Gretchen Harshbarger papers date from 1900 to 1991 and measure 1.25 linear feet.  The papers are arranged in four series: Biographical information, Landscape design, Publications, and Photographs.

The Biographical information series (1906-1991) pertains primarily to the career of Gretchen Harshbarger.  The series includes many newspaper clippings about her professional activities as well as information about her family, education, and awards; and correspondence.

The landscape plans that Harshbarger designed for Iowa City clients are included in the Landscape design series (1966-1982).  They include plans for churches, the city of Iowa City, many residential properties and a school.

Harshbarger was a prolific writer.  The em>Flower Family Album (1940) and articles she wrote for Household Magazine and other magazines are included in the Publications series (1935-1989), as are advertisements and reviews of McCalls's Garden Book (1968).

The Photographs series (1900-1987) is devoted primarily to those of Harshbarger, her family and friends.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
Series 2: LANDSCAPE DESIGN
Series 3: PUBLICATIONS
Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
  • Box 1:
  • Awards: American Horticultural Society Certificate - 1960
    [shelved in map case]
  • Garden Writers Association of America - 1981
  • Awards: Various - 1941-1989
  • Correspondence - 1906-1991
  • Education, Cornell University - 1928-1929
  • Family information and memoirs - 1945-1975
  • Family genealogy - 1934, 1975
  • Holiday newsletters - 1973-1987
  • Newspaper clippings - 1909-1989
  • Poems and art - 1929
  • Professional notes and activities - 1930-1969
  • Letters of condolence upon her death - 1989
  • Series 2: LANDSCAPE DESIGN
  • Box 1:
  • Hillel House - 1972
  • St. Andrew Presbyterian Church - 1972
  • Trinity Episcopal Church - 1977-1978
  • Box 2:
  • City of Iowa City: Dubuque Parkway - 1970-1971
    [see map case for Plans I, II and III]
  • City of Iowa City: Interstate 80 interchange, undated
  • City of Iowa City: Iowa Avenue boulevard - 1967-1968
  • City of Iowa City: Mercer Park - 1977
  • City of Iowa City: Terrell Mill Park and adjoining parkway greenstrip - 1966-1971
  • Residential: Baker, Marilyn and George - 1980
  • Residential: Ellis, Sandra and Dorsey - 1974
  • Residential: Hayes, Jim - 1980-1982
  • Residential: Hayford, Jack - 1980
  • Residential: Johnson, George and Sally - 1977
  • Residential: Jordison, Randall - 1977
  • Residential: Koch, Larry (folder 1) - 1978-1980
  • Residential: Koch, Larry (folder 2) - 1978-1980
  • Residential: Long, John Paul - 1972
  • Residential: Newman, Jack - 1972-1977
  • Residential: Rossi, Nicholas - 1972
  • Residential: Schoderbek, Peter and Clara - 1972-1973
  • Residential: Summy, Tom - 1977
  • Residential: Tegler, Wayne (folder 1) - 1968
  • Residential: Tegler, Wayne (folder 2) - 1968
  • Residential: White, Carl - 1977-1979
  • Residential: Wockenfuss, James - 1974, 1979
  • Shimek Elementary School (folder 1) - 1971-1972, 1978
  • Shimek Elementary School (folder 2) - 1971-1972, 1978
  • The University of Iowa North Hall Grounds
  • Series 3: PUBLICATIONS
  • Box 2:
  • "Better Homes and Gardens" (editor's telegram) - 1937
  • "Capper's Farmer" - 1954-1955
  • "Flower Family Album" - 1940
  • "Gallery of Summer Flowers" - 1939
  • "Household Magazine" (folder 1) - 1951-1958
  • "Household Magazine" (folder 2) - 1951-1958
  • "Household Magazine" (folder 3) - 1951-1958
  • Magazine articles - 1935-1983
  • Magazine covers - 1957-1965
  • "McCall's Garden Book": advertisements - 1967-1968
  • "McCall's Garden Book": reviews - 1967-1968
  • "Project Green" - 1988-1989
  • Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 3:
  • Family and friends - 1900-1938
  • Family and friends - 1928-1932
  • Family and friends - 1946-1959
  • Family and friends - 1949-1958
  • Family and friends (folder 1) - 1960-1969
  • Family and friends (folder 2) - 1960-1969
  • Family and friends - 1970-1977
  • Family and friends - 1971-1978
  • Family and friends - 1980-1987
  • Family and friends - 1981-1987
  • Miscellaneous, undated (folder 1)
  • Miscellaneous, undated (folder 2)
  • Harshbarger garden and house, undated
  • Harshbarger, Gretchen, undated (folder 1)
  • Harshbarger, Gretchen, undated (folder 2)
  • Negatives, undated