Guide to the Cora Call Whitley papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1917-1937
Creator: Whitley, Cora Call (1862-1937)
Extent: 1.10 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0154
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Clubwoman and conservationist involved in the Council of National Defense Women's Committee during World War I.

Administrative Information

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. 226) were donated by Whitley M. Hemingway, Cora Call Whitley's grandson, in 1994.

Preferred Citation: Cora Call Whitley 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

Biographical Note

Cora Call Whitley, prominent conservationist and club woman, was born on May 7, 1862in Rowelsburg, West Virginia, to the Reverend L.N. Call, a Baptist minister, and Mary (Guyon) Call. The family moved to Iowa in 1867 where Cora Call attended public school in Hampton and Webster City, graduating from the Cedar Valley seminary in Osage. She taught high school in Webster City until her marriage in 1882 to Dr. Francis E. Whitley. Their three children were Gladys, Grace, and Guyon. Dr. Whitley died in 1918 and Cora Whitley remained in Webster City until her death in 1937. Cora Whitley was widely recognized for her pioneering role in conservation, her organizational ability, and her gift as a speaker.

Whitley was active in church organizations, local women's clubs, the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R). and numerous state and national organizations. She was well-known for her involvement during World War I as the state chairman for the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense, working to organize women in Iowa for various phases of war work. She also assumed leadership positions in the Federation of Women's Clubs of which she served as Iowa president from 1915-1917. Whitley later became a prominent national leader of the General Federation of Women's Clubs' conservation activities. One of her special projects was the "Outdoor Good Manners" campaign in 1925. Whitley died on December 20, 1937. She was honored for her conservation work with the establishment of the Whitley Forest at Lake Ahquahi State Park, near Indianola, Iowa.

Content Description

The Cora Call Whitley papers date from 1917 to 1937 and measure 1.l linear feet. The papers are arranged in three series: Biographical information, Council of National Defense Women's Committee, and Conservation.

The Biographical information series (1921-1937)contains newspaper clippings about Whitley's life and activities, some of her writings and speeches, and correspondence not related to specific projects.

Whitley's activities during World War I are included in the Council of National Defense Women's Committee series(1915-1917). The series comprises general information about the national and state organizations as well as information about specific programs and committees, including the Child Welfare Committee, Children's Year, and Weighing and Measuring Tests. Both the organizational and program materials include correspondence, newspaper clippings and memoranda.

Whitley's environmental concerns are highlighted in the Conservation series (1920-1936) which includes publications of the General Federation of Women's Clubs; information on Iowa issues; and national concerns including the" Outdoor Good Manners" campaign, forestry and tree planting programs and the activities of the Izaak Walton League. A number of pamphlets and publications on conservation issues completes the series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Browse by Series:


This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Whitley, Cora Call, 1862-1937

Corporate Names:
Council of National Defense (Washington, D.C.) Woman's Committee


World War, 1914-1918
Women and war
Conservation of natural resources


Geographic Names:
United States -- Iowa -- Webster City

Genre/Form of Materials:
Personal papers

Women and War
Women in Wartime
Women's Clubs and Organizations