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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Evelyn Birkby Collection of Radio Homemaker Materials

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1924-2012
Creator: Birkby, Evelyn (Collection of Radio Homemaker Materials) (1919-)
Extent: 8.40 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0126
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Cookbooks, newsletters, and other publications of the Radio Homemakers who broadcast over KMA and KFNF in southwest Iowa.
View Selected Items Online:Evelyn Birkby Collection

Alternate Extent Statement: 1 videocassette [V239], 2 CDs [d0027 and d0037], 30 audiocassettes [AC532-AC535 and AC836-AC859, MC1183-MC1184], photographs in Box 9.

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. 191) were donated by Evelyn Birkby in 1993 and succeeding years.

Preferred Citation: Birkby Collection of Radio Homemakers, 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

Evelyn Corrie Birkby, wife, mother, homemaker, newspaper columnist, author, and radio personality, is a journalist with a passion for rural history. She became one of a group of area women known as radio homemakers. An Iowa native, Evelyn Corrie was born July 31, 1919 to Methodist minister Carl Corrie and his wife Mae Corrie. Evelyn Corrie attended Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa for two years and then taught third grade for four years. Later, she completed her education at the University of Chicago and served as director of youth activities at the First Methodist Church of Chicago ( Chicago Temple). Evelyn Corrie returned to Iowa in 1946 to marry her Sidney High School classmate Robert Birkby. The Birkbys had four children, Dulcie Jean, who died in 1953 at the age of five and a half; Bob, born in 1950; Jeff, born in 1954; and Craig, born in 1955.

In 1949 the Shenandoah Evening Sentinel advertised for a farm woman to write a weekly newspaper column. Encouraged by her husband, Birkby applied and was accepted. In speaking of her "Up a Country Lane" column, Evelyn Birkby said it was "a forum to share my observations about my own experiences and those of my neighbors." In the summer of 1950, the Birkbys moved seventeen miles southwest of Shenandoah to a 120-acre farm which they named "Cottonwood." On May 15, 1950, Evelyn Birkby took her column on the air with KMA radio station, changing its name to "Down a Country Lane." The program was broadcast over KMA until 1952 when the needs of her husband and children, Dulcie Jean and Bob, made it difficult to prepare a program and travel back and forth to the studio. Birkby took a hiatus until 1955, when she began working for Kitchen-Klatter as a writer and broadcaster. The Kitchen-Klatter radio program originated from KMA but was syndicated over a six-state area, while some programs had an even wider distribution: the Martha Bohlson and Edith Hanson programs were heard from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic seaboard.

In 1983, Birkby left Kitchen-Klatter and returned full-time to radio station KMA to head its book department. Besides authoring the KMA Festival Cookie Book (1983), Cooking with KMA: Featuring 60 Years of Radio Homemakers (1985), and KMA's Come Again Cookie Book (1987), Evelyn Birkby assisted with the radio homemaker broadcasts until the summer of 1991, when she resigned to give her full attention to writing. What followed were Neighboring on the Air: Cooking With the KMA Radio Homemakers in 1991 and Up A Country Lane Cookbook in 1993. In May 1990, KMA honored Birkby on the 40th anniversary of her first broadcast, May 15, 1950.

Birkby has had many opportunities and accolades: she was a member of the Iowa Bicentennial Commission, the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission, the Iowa Grievance Commission, the Rural Betterment Commission, the National Board of Communication for the United Methodist Church, and a member of the state Methodist Communication Board. She was one of the Iowans in 1996 to represent Iowa at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa, and in 1998, she was chosen as one of the Iowa Master Farm Homemakers. Birkby's alma mater, Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, honored her with its Alumni Achievement Award in 1999. The 2002 novel Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg featured a character, Neighbor Dorothy, a radio homemaker modeled on Evelyn Birkby.

Birkby is in demand as a speaker on many subjects, including life on the farm from a woman's perspective in the 40's and the 50's. Birkby and her husband Robert live on an acreage in Sidney, Iowa.

The Evelyn Birkby Collection of Radio Homemaker Materials dates from 1924 to 2012 and measures 8.4 linear feet. The papers are arranged in ten series: Evelyn Birkby, Kitchen-Klatter Products Co., KFNF Radio, KMA Radio, Henry Field Seed and Nursery Company, Miscellaneous Radio Homemaker materials, Photographs, Artifacts, Scrapbooks and Audiovisual. The bulk of these papers are in the form of publications.

The Evelyn Birkby series (1978-1999) is arranged in two subseries. The first subseries, Newspaper clippings by and about Birkby includes photocopies of Birkby's "Up a Country Lane" column and newspaper and magazine reviews of her 1993 book by the same name. A 1991 New Yorker article by Jane and Michael Stern provides a history of KMA and KFNF radio stations and the radio homemakers, and includes an interview with Evelyn and Robert Birkby. The second subseries, Publications (1978-1993) consists of six cookbooks by Birkby: KMA Cookie Festival (1978), Festival Cookie Book (1983), Cooking with KMA (1985), and Come Again Cookie Book (1987), Neighboring on the Air: Cooking with the KMA Radio Homemakers (1991), and Up A Country Lane Cookbook (1993). Also included is Adventure After Sixty: Alone Through England and Scotland (1985).

Kitchen-Klatter Products Co. (1936-1986) consists of Kitchen-Klatter magazine and various other publications by the Driftmier Company, makers of Kitchen-Klatter products. Birkby's column was featured each month in Kitchen-Klatter magazine, a staple for the rural woman wanting kitchen tips, household hints and general information. Kitchen-Klatter went out of business in 1986.

The KFNF Radio and KMA Radio series (1926-1987) are comprised of publications of these two Shenandoah, Iowa radio stations. They are primarily newsletters and recipe books, some taken from the homemakers' programs. Among the homemakers featured are Jessie S. Young, Edith Hansen, Florence Falk, Evelyn Birkby, and Billie Oakley. The KMA Radio series also includes a small collection of photographs, some of which appeared in Cooking with KMA (1985) and Up a Country Lane Cookbook (1993). Also contained in the KMA Radio series are Billie Oakley's Home Talk magazine, published by Home Talk Publications, Inc., 1987-1991. The magazine featured recipes, fiction and local news. Oakley began her radio career in 1932 for KFNF. She later worked for KMA radio station, retiring in 1992. Oakley died in 1996.

The Henry Field Seed and Nursery Company series (1924-1999) contains Henry Field's Seed Sense magazine and newspaper clippings.

The Miscellaneous Radio Homemaker materials are non-Iowa items collected by Evelyn Birkby. This series includes books by radio homemakers from South Dakota and Oklahoma that are shelved in the Iowa Women's Archives printed works collection. They are: The Best of the Neighbor Lady (1987) by Wynn Speece with M. Jill Karolevitz and Long Lost Recipes of Aunt Susan (1989) edited by Patty Vineyard MacDonald.

The Photographs series (1948-1965 and undated) consists of photographs of Birkby and other radio homemakers.

The Scrapbooks series (1933-2010) contains a school days scrapbook with journal entries, notes from friends, photographs and pamphlets documenting her extra curricula activities, music contests, a visit to the Iowa State Fair, and a trip to a homemaking congress in Ames. The World War II scrapbook consists of newspaper clippings and correspondence with soldiers met between 1943 and 1945. Correspondents included Clarence Clark, who was with the Iowa unit known as the Red Bull Division, and Dick Hayashi, a Japanese American soldier disillusioned by the treatment of his parents who were sent to an internment camp.

The majority of the Scrapbooks series documents Evelyn Birkby's sixty years as a columnist for The Evening Sentential. The Up A Country Lane columns not only featured recipes, but also covered a variety of topics from children's activities and family vacations to rural traditions and national current events.

The Artifacts are bottles that held Kitchen-Klatter flavorings, cooking utensils and items offered as premiums to listeners and readers.Also included is a scarf sent to Evelyn Birkby from Italy by Clarence Clark, a solider friend in World War II.

The Audiovisual series includes a video documentary about the radio homemakers and entertainers of Shenandoah, Iowa; a CD-ROM of Birkby's Kitchen-Klatter columns; and audiotapes of radio homemaker programs.

Two of Birkby's books are shelved in the printed works collection in the Iowa Women's Archives: Neighboring on the Air: Cooking with the KMA Radio Homemakers (1991), and Up a Country Lane Cookbook (1993), Adventure after Sixty: Alone through England and Scotland (1985), and Always Put in a Recipe and Other Tips for Living. KMA Radio: The First Sixty Years (1985), written by Birkby's son, Robert Birkby is also shelved in the Iowa Women's Archives printed works collection.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: EVELYN BIRKBY
Series 2: KITCHEN-KLATTER PRODUCTS CO.
Series 3: KFNF RADIO
Series 4: KMA RADIO
Series 5: HENRY FIELD SEED AND NURSERY CO.
Series 6: MISCELLANEOUS RADIO HOMEMAKER MATERIALS (non- Iowa)
Series 7: PHOTOGRAPHS
Series 8: ARTIFACTS
Series 9: SCRAPBOOKS
Series 10: AUDIOVISUAL

  • Series 1: EVELYN BIRKBY
  • Box 1:
  • Newspaper clippings - 1991-2010
  • Newspaper columns by Birkby (folder 1) - 1987-2010
  • Newspaper columns by Birkby (folder 2) - 1987-2001
  • Newspaper columns by Birkby (folder 3) - 1987-2001
  • Publications: KMA Cookie Festival - 1978
  • Publications: KMA Festival Cookie Book - 1983
  • Publications: Cooking with KMA - 1985
  • Publications: Come Again Cookie Book - 1987
  • Publications: Up a Country Lane selected columns - 1999
  • Publications: Adventure After Sixty - 1985
  • Fan mail - 1950-2010
  • Series 2: KITCHEN-KLATTER PRODUCTS CO.
  • Box 1:
  • Programs and Ideas for Mother's Day and Mother-Daughter Banquets - 1963
  • The Story of an American Family by Lucile Driftmier Verness - 1950
  • Kitchen-Klatter Cook Book , Vol. V: Oven Dishes, One Dish Meals, Meat Cookery by Leanna Field Driftmier, undated
  • Kitchen Klatter Garden Chatter, Vol. 1, No. 1 - 1949
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine, July - 1936
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine, April, June - 1937
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine, April, Dec. - 1938
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine, April, June, Aug.,Oct.,Nov. - 1939
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine, March, April - 1940
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1941
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1942
  • Box 2:
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1943
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1944
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine (lacking Dec.) - 1945
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1946
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1947
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1948
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1949
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1950
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1951
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1952
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine (lacking July) - 1953
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1954
  • Box 3:
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1955
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine (lacking Dec.) - 1956
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1957
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1958
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1959
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1960
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1961
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1962
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1963
  • Box 4:
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1964
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1965
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1966
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1967
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1968
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1969
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1970
  • Box 5:
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1971
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1972
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1973
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1974
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1975
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1976
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1977
  • Box 6:
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1978
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1979
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1980
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1981
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1982
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1983
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1984
  • Box 7:
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine - 1985
  • Kitchen-Klatter Magazine (Jan. only) - 1986
  • Cake Cook Book - 1953
  • Pie Cook Book - 1953
  • Party Plans for Special Occasions - 1964
  • Church Projects and Programs - 1965
  • Series 3: KFNF RADIO
  • Box 7:
  • Mother's Hour Letter - 1926-1927
  • Kitchen Klatter News - 1928-1936
  • Edith Hansen Kitchen Club recipes - 1952-1953
  • Coffee with Florence [Falk], undated - 1966, 1967
  • Jessie Young - 1983, 1987
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, March, July, Dec. - 1951
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (lacking Jan., Oct., Dec.) - 1952
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (lacking Jan., Feb., July, Dec.) - 1953
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Dec. only) - 1962
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Jan-March, May, Aug, Dec.) - 1964
  • Box 8:
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit - 1965
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Lacking Jan-March) - 1966
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Lacking Sept.) - 1967
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit - 1968
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Aug-Dec. only) - 1969
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Jan., July-Nov. only) - 1970
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Dec. only) - 1971
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (April only) - 1974
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Oct-Nov. only) - 1975
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (lacking March-June and Sept.) - 1976
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (lacking June, Aug., Oct-Dec) - 1977
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Sept. and Dec. only) - 1978
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Jan -April only) - 1979
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, (Aug-Nov. only) - 1980
  • Jessie's Homemaker Radio...Visit, undated
  • Jessie's Cake and Cookie Recipe Book, - 1972
  • Jessie's One-Dish Meal Book, undated
  • Series 4: KMA RADIO
  • Box 8:
  • Ed May's Contest-Winning Popcorn Recipes, undated
  • Broadcasting program of May Seed and Nursery Campany from WOAW - 1924
  • Mayfair Stage Studio KMA Souvenir Booklet
  • The KMA Guide (folder 1) - 1948, 1958
  • The KMA Guide (folder 2) - 1965-1977
  • Box 9:
  • KMA Guide cook books
  • The 55 Favorite Recipes of KMA Personalities - 1948
  • KMA Guide Cook Book : All Time Favorite Recipes - 1952
  • KMA Cook Book - 1954
  • KMA's Cookie Book - 1955
  • KMA's All Time Recipe Treasures - 1956
  • KMA's One-Dish Favorites For busy, Particular Homemakers, - 1956
  • KMA Christmas Tea Cookie Book - 1959
  • My Best Recipe Book - 1959
  • Kitchen Magic - 1960
  • Recipes for Today's Woman - 1969
  • Christmas Treats: Recipes of KMA Listeners - 1973
  • Recipes For Today's Woman (lacking May-June, Nov-Dec.) - 1970
  • Billie Oakley's Open Line - 1984
  • Billie Oakley's Open Line (lacking May-June and Nov-Dec.) - 1985
  • Billie Oakley's Open Line - 1986
  • Billie Oakley's Open Line, March-April - 1987
  • KMA Today's Open Line, May, June and Dec. - 1987-1989
  • Billie Oakley's Home Talk, Aug., Oct and Dec. - 1987
  • Billie Oakley's Home Talk (lacking January, March and May) - 1988
  • Billie Oakley's Home Talk - 1988-1989
  • Billie Oakley's Home Talk - 1989-1990
  • Billie Oakley's Home Talk - 1990-1991
  • Series 5: HENRY FIELD SEED AND NURSERY CO.
  • Box 9:
  • Newspaper clippings - 1950, 1984, 1994
  • Series 6: MISCELLANEOUS RADIO HOMEMAKER MATERIALS (non- Iowa)
  • Box 9:
  • Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes - 1976
  • Series 7: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 9:
  • - View Online
  • General, undated - 1948 -1965
  • Series 8: ARTIFACTS
  • Box 10:
  • Kitchen-Klatter Products Co., Artifical flavoring bottles
  • Kitchen-Klatter Products Co., Cooking utensils
  • Box 11:
  • Kitchen-Klatter premiums, child's toy hut
  • Kitchen-Klatter premiums, wooden tray
  • Kitchen-Klatter premiums, butterfly decorations
  • Box 21:
  • Scarf - 1944
  • Series 9: SCRAPBOOKS
  • Box 12:
  • - View Online
  • School Days Scrapbook - 1933-1936
  • - View Online
  • Box 13:
  • World War II scrapbook - 1943-1945
  • - View Online
  • Box 14:
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1949-1954
  • - View Online
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1954-1958
  • - View Online
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1959-1963
  • - View Online
  • Box 15:
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1964-1968
  • - View Online
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1969-1973
  • - View Online
  • Box 16:
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1974-1978
  • - View Online
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1979-1983
  • - View Online
  • Box 17:
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1984-1987
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1988-1993
  • - View Online
  • Box 18:
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1994-1997
  • - View Online
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 1998-2001
  • - View Online
  • Box 19:
  • Country Lane column Scrapbook - 2002-2005
  • - View Online
  • Country Lane column favorites scrapbook - 1999-2005
  • Box 20:
  • - View Online
  • Country Lane columns - 2006-2008
  • Country Lane columns - 2008-2010
  • Series 10: AUDIOVISUAL
  • Sub-Series: Videocassettes
  • V239 "Pioneer Broadcasting: Shenandoah entertainers and Homemakers,' - 1992
  • Reel-to-reel audiotape (Evelyn for Billie, undated)
  • Sub-Series: CD-ROM
  • 'Kitchen Klatter: Articles of Evelyn Corrie Birkby - 1955-1989
  • Sub-Series: Audio recordings
  • AC532 Kitchen-Klatter show, December 31 - 1985
  • AC533 Different Homemakers, undated
  • AC534 Leanna Driftmier - 1946
  • AC535 Up a Country Lane - 1950
  • AC836 Florence Falk, March 18 - 1969
  • AC837 Doris McNeely interviewing Leona Nicholson, March 15 - 1979
  • AC838 Billie Oakley interviewing Bob Birkby (Evelyn Birkby's son), June 24 - 1986
  • AC839 Evelyn Birkby sitting in for Billie Oakley, October 6 - 1986
  • AC840 KMA Today Show hosted by Evelyn Birkby, May 29 - 1990
  • AC841 Evelyn Birkby, July 30 - 1990
  • AC842 Evelyn Birkby sitting in for Billie Oakley on Labor Day, undated
  • AC843 KMA 50 th Anniversary, August 15 - 1975
  • AC844 KMA 50 th Anniversary - 1975
  • AC845 KMA 50 th Anniversary - 1975
  • AC846 Birkby, Sept. 9 - 1991
  • AC847 KMA 60 th Anniversary - 1985
  • AC848 KMA 60 th Anniversary - 1985
  • AC849 KMA 60 th Anniversary - 1985
  • AC850 KMA 60 th Anniversary - 1985
  • AC851 KMA 60 th Anniversary - 1985
  • AC852 KMA 60 th Anniversary - 1985
  • AC853 KMA 60 th Anniversary - 1985
  • AC854 Project 75: the History of KMA, Aug. - 2000
  • AC855 Bob Birkby's first interview with Billie Oakley, January 4 - 1982
  • AC856 Bob Birkby interviewing Billie Oakley, May 10 - 1982
  • AC857 Bob Birkby (Evelyn Birkby's son) interviewing
  • Lena Ferguson (the 'Flower Lady'), undated
  • AC858 Doris Murphy interview (part one), undated
  • AC859 Doris Murphy interview (part three), undated
  • AC1183 Karen Mason oral history interview with Birkby, Oct. 9 - 2006
  • AC1184 Karen Mason oral history interview with Birkby, Oct. 9 - 2006