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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Dorothy Schramm papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1938-2006
Creator: Schramm, Dorothy (1909-2006)
Extent: 6.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0183
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Human rights advocate from Burlington, Iowa who was active in local and international issues, particularly UNA-USA and the League of Women Voters.

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. 263) were donated by Dorothy Schramm in 1995.

Preferred Citation: Dorothy Schramm 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

Dorothy Schramm, art collector and political activist, was born in Tilton, New Hampshire, on June 16, 1909.She married James Schramm and made Burlington, Iowa her permanent home. Schramm's family owned the J.S. Schramm department store in downtown Burlington, which served its community for more than 150 years before it closed in 1987. The Schramms avidly supported and collected African sculpture and post-1940 American and European painting, sculpture, and prints. Dorothy Schramm's active support of art encompassed Works Progress Administration projects, Grinnell College's Art Collection, and the Governor's Art Commission. She was listed in the1989-1990 Who's Who in American Art.

In addition to her interest in the arts, Dorothy Schramm participated in a wide variety of political organizations. She was a founding member of the Burlington League of Women Voters in the late 1930s and authored a nationally recognized handbook, You are Democracy for the organization in 1948. She actively supported the United Nations, and served as both the state president and national vice president of the American Association for the United Nations. She chaired the first United Nations Day and helped organize activities promoting the United Nations and its issues for over two decades. She spoke in favor of the organization throughout the United States.

In the 1950s, Schramm participated in a number of activities to combat racism. She and several other Burlington residents sponsored the 1950 Burlington Self-Survey on Human Relations that analyzed the relationships between the races in Burlington, Iowa. Schramm promoted the report through radio programs, speeches, and her work with groups such as the Mayor's Committee on Civic Unity and the Burlington Commission on Human Rights. She was a member of the Iowa National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served as its vice president in 1953.

Schramm's work has earned her a number of awards. She was a 1971 recipient of The University of Iowa's Distinguished Service Award, and received honorary degrees from Grinnell College and Morningside College. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1986.

The Dorothy Schramm papers date from 1938to 2006 and measure six linear feet. The papers are arranged in seven series: State Politics, National Politics, National League of Women Voters, Burlington Community Action, United Nations, Fine Arts, and Photographs. This finding aid reflects the reprocessing of the collection in 2001, during which the materials were reorganized into new folders, series, and boxes. A copy of the original finding aid, which shows the earlier arrangement, is available upon request.

The State Politics series (1948-1981) contains materials from Schramm's work with political organizations in Iowa on the state level. The series contains promotional correspondence, clippings and a copy of the publication Iowa in the World (1968), for which Schramm served as an editor. Iowa in the World demonstrated Iowa's cultural and economic connection with the rest of the world, including chapters regarding its ethnic heritage and its role in global health, agriculture, and technology.

The series also includes correspondence and materials from Schramm's work on various committees in state politics: Iowa Federal Judiciary Selection Committee(1977-1981), Governor's International Cooperation Year (1965-1966), Iowa Society for Mental Health (1955-1956), and Fair Employment Practices in Iowa (1948-1956).Materials from Iowa Republican Party workshops (1955-1959), including programs, correspondence, and handouts, complete the series.

The National Politics series (1945-1957) is comprised of materials from Schramm's work in national politics. The series includes correspondence and materials from Schramm's involvement with Americans United for a World Organization (1945-1946), an early promoter of the United Nations. In addition, the series contains correspondence, newsletters, programs, transcripts, and meeting minutes for National Republican Workshops from 1945-1956. The last two folders of the series consist of clippings, correspondence, and newsletters from Schramm's committee work on the Food for Freedom campaign (1945) and the Committee for National Trade Policy (1954).

The National League of Women Voters series (1943-1955) includes information on Schramm's work with the Burlington, Iowa chapter of this organization, for which she was a founding member. In 1947, Schramm authored a pamphlet for the League of Women Voters of Iowa entitled, You are Democracy, that garnered national attention. The series includes the original publication and its later adaptations for the League of Women Voters in Des Moines and Dubuque (1947-1948). In addition, it contains Schramm's research notes, correspondence, and publicity clippings including an article in the Christian Science Monitor. The remainder of the series consists of Schramm's collection of publications from the National League of Women Voters (1943-1944) and her personal collection of material on political parties (1940-1955).

The Burlington Community Action series consists of materials from Schramm's work for various community organizations in Burlington, Iowa. Schramm helped organize Burlington's Atomic Energy Week in 1947. The series contains publicity clippings, a radio program transcript, and correspondence including a letter of commendation from Albert Einstein.

Schramm also participated in projects for the advancement of civil rights in Burlington. She and other committee members organized a landmark survey on race relations in Burlington in 1950. The series includes two copies of the final report, an appendix to the report, newspaper clippings (1950-1953), a radio program, and Schramm's speech to the New York Cosmopolitan Club for the United Negro College Fund (1953). The series also contains Schramm's collection of materials on civil rights and race (1957-1964), as well as materials from her service as a member of the Mayor's Committee on Civic Unity (1955) and the Burlington Commission on Human Rights (1964-1968).

The United Nations series (1955-1997) details Schramm's involvement with the United Nations. It is the largest series in the collection and is divided into three sub-series: Burlington UN activities; American Association for the UN, Iowa Branch; and Governor's UN committee.

The Burlington UN activities sub-series concerns Schramm's involvement in United Nations work in Burlington, Iowa. In 1955, Schramm organized a UN day for Burlington that included a visit from Eleanor Roosevelt. Newspaper clippings and correspondence regarding this event, including Mrs. Roosevelt's nationally syndicated column, "My Day" mentioning her visit to Burlington and meeting with Dorothy Schramm are contained in this subseries. The subseries also includes materials from subsequent UN days in Burlington (1956-1965), the Burlington Mayor's Committee for the United Nations (1958), and the Burlington Walk for Development (1969-1970). Schramm received a large amount of correspondence regarding her UN work in Burlington, and the sub-series contains correspondence from 1966-1997 including letters from George Bush and Henry Kissinger.

The American Association for the United Nations and its Iowa Branch sub-series documents Schramm's activities with this group. The national organization's name changed from the American Association for the United Nations (1943-1964) to its current name, The United Nations Association of the United States, Inc. in 1964. Correspondingly, the Iowa branch changed from the National Association for the United Nations, Iowa Branch to the United Nations Association of Iowa the same year. The organization actively educates the public about the United Nations and promotes its activities in chapters throughout the United States.

The subseries contains publicity materials(1955-1965), UN anniversary programs (1965-1997), correspondence with Senator Jack Miller (1956), newspaper clippings (1966-1977), membership campaign materials (1954-1963), finance drive materials (1958-1968), annual meeting materials (1955-1968), and materials from national biennial conventions (1960,1964) and annual conferences (1962, 1964). In addition, it includes research materials and drafts of speeches Schramm delivered throughout the United States to promote the organization (1957-1962). It also contains materials from numerous special topics: the proposed Bricker Amendment to the Constitution (1955-1957), a visit by British UN delegate Lord Caradon (1969), an Iowa UN banner competition (1970), International Women's Year (1975), the Panama Canal (1978), and conventional weapons issues (1975-1978). The conventional weapons topic includes correspondence between Schramm and politicians including Tom Harkin, Jim Leach, Chuck Grassley, Dick Clark, and Harold E. Hughes.

The Governor's UN Committee (1954-1968) sub-series completes the United Nations series of the Schramm papers. This collection contains publicity and materials from both the Iowa UN Day it organized in 1956 and its national counterpart. In addition, it contains meeting materials, publications, and correspondence from the Governor's UN committee from 1954 to 1968.

The Fine Arts series (1938-1969) documents Dorothy Schramm's activities in collecting and supporting art. The series includes a booklet entitled Art of the 20th Century Collected by James and Dorothy Schramm that features photographs and descriptions of art that the Schramms collected. In addition, the series contains correspondence and materials from Schramm's work on the Governor's Art Commission (1962-1963) and the Grinnell College Board of Overseers (1962-1964). This series also contains information that Dorothy Schramm collected regarding various Works Progress Administration art projects (1938-1969).

The Photographs series (1937-1968) consists of photographs removed from other series; each photograph was replaced in its respective folder with a photocopy. The series contains photographs of UN activities including Eleanor Roosevelt's visit to Burlington, Iowa (1955), the Burlington Walk for Development (1969-1970), and British UN delegate Lord Caradon (1969). In addition, it includes a photograph from Burlington Atomic Energy Week (1947), photographs of the mural "Social History of Des Moines", painted by Donald Jones (1941), and photographs for Iowa in the World that originally appeared in Look magazine. The series also contains negatives from Iowa in the World and American Association for the United Nations activities.
League of Women Voters of Iowa records (IWA): Dorothy Schramm was an active member of the League in the 1940s and 1950s, and its meeting minutes document her participation in the group.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION - 1986-2006
Series 2: STATE POLITICS
Series 3: NATIONAL POLITICS
Series 4: NATIONAL LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
Series 5: BURLINGTON COMMUNITY ACTIVISM
Series 6: UNITED NATIONS (UN)
Series 7: FINE ARTS
Series 8: PHOTOGRAPHS

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION - 1986-2006
  • Box 1:
  • Biographical information
  • Series 2: STATE POLITICS
  • Box 1:
  • Iowa in the World - 1968
  • Iowa in the World promotion (2 folders)
  • Fair Employment Practices in Iowa - 1948-1956
  • Iowa Federal Judiciary Selection Commission
  • Correspondence (including letters from John Culver) - 1977-1981
  • Selection committee - 1977
  • Governors International Cooperation Year (includes letter from David Stanley) - 1965-1966
  • Iowa Society for Mental Health and the Iowa Association for Mental Health - 1955-1956
  • Iowa Republican Workshop - 1955-1958
  • Iowa Republican Workshop - 1957-1959
  • Box 2:
  • Discussion material
  • Series 3: NATIONAL POLITICS
  • Box 2:
  • Americans United for a World Organization, Inc. (2 folders) - 1945-1946
  • National Council of Republican workshops
  • Publications - 1950-1956
  • Workshop materials - 1956-1957
  • Food for Freedom campaign - 1945
  • Committee for a National Trade Policy (2 folders) - 1954
  • Series 4: NATIONAL LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
  • Box 3:
  • Publications - 1943-1944
  • Material on political parties - 1946-1955
  • You are Democracy handbook (3 folders) - 1946-1947
  • Series 5: BURLINGTON COMMUNITY ACTIVISM
  • Box 4:
  • Burlington Atomic Energy Week (includes correspondence from Albert Einstein) - 1947
  • Burlington Self-Survey on Human Relations: Final report (2 copies) - 1950
  • Burlington Self-Survey on Human Relations: Appendix to final report - 1950
  • Burlington Self-Survey on Human Relations: Transcript of radio program - 1950
  • Speech by Dorothy Schramm at the New York Cosmopolitan Club for the United Negro College Fund Forum - 1953
  • Newspaper clippings (2 folders) - 1950-1953
  • Civil rights and race relations materials - 1957-1964
  • Burlington Mayors Committee on Civic Unity - 1955
  • Burlington Commission on Human Rights - 1964-1965
  • Burlington Commission on Human Rights - 1968
  • Series 6: UNITED NATIONS (UN)
  • Box 5:
  • Burlington UN Day
  • Clippings and correspondence - 1955
  • General information - 1955-1965
  • General information - 1966-1977
  • Publicity - 1955
  • Mayors Committee for the UN: General information - 1958
  • Mayors Committee for the UN: Newspaper clippings - 1958
  • Burlington UN Activities - 1969-1997
  • Burlington UN Walk for Development - 1969-1970
  • American Association for the United Nations, Iowa Branch: Action materials - 1955-1965
  • American Association for the United Nations, Iowa Branch: UN Anniversary programs - 1955-1963
  • American Association for the United Nations, Iowa Branch: Iowa Association for the UN and the Bricker Amendment (2 folders)
  • American Association for the United Nations, Iowa Branch: Correspondence with Senator Jack Miller - 1965
  • Box 6:
  • Newspaper clippings - 1966-1969, 1976-1977
  • International Human Rights Year celebration (2 folders) - 1968
  • Lord Caradons visit - 1969
  • Iowa UN banners - 1970
  • International Womens Year - 1975
  • Panama Canal - 1978
  • Conventional weapons: General information
  • Conventional weapons: Correspondence - 1975-1978
  • Human rights - 1961-1962, 1968
  • Speeches: The Resolute Member", undated
  • Speeches, untitled and undated
  • Speeches: Research materials (2 folders) - 1957-1962
  • Box 7:
  • Membership campaign - 1954-1958
  • Membership campaign - 1956
  • Membership campaign - 1959-1960
  • Membership campaign - 1961
  • Membership campaign - 1962
  • Membership campaign - 1963
  • Finance drives - 1958
  • Finance drives - 1960
  • Finance drives - 1961
  • Box 8:
  • Finance drives - 1962
  • Finance drives - 1963
  • Finance drives - 1964
  • Annual meetings (11 folders) - 1955-1968
  • Box 9:
  • American Association for the United Nations: Publicity - 1959
  • American Association for the United Nations: 2nd Biennial Convention - 1960
  • American Association for the United Nations: 12th Annual Conference of National Organizations - 1962
  • American Association for the United Nations: 4th Biennial Convention - 1964
  • American Association for the United Nations: 14th Annual Conference of National Organizations - 1964
  • Governors UN Committee - 1954-1956
  • Governors UN Committee: General - 1954
  • Governors UN Committee: General - 1955
  • Governors UN Committee: General (3 folders) - 1957
  • Box 10:
  • Governors UN Committee: General - 1957-1958
  • Governors UN Committee: General (3 folders) - 1958
  • Governors UN Committee: General (2 folders) - 1959
  • Governors UN Committee: General - 1960
  • Governors UN Committee: General - 1961
  • Box 11:
  • Governors UN Committee: General - 1962
  • Governors UN Committee: General - 1963
  • Governors UN Committee: General (2 folders) - 1967-1968
  • United Nations Day observance (3 folders) - 1956
  • Iowa UN Day (2 folders) - 1956
  • Newspaper clippings - 1958
  • Finances - 1959
  • Series 7: FINE ARTS
  • Box 11:
  • Art of the 20th Century collected by James and Dorothy Schramm - 1961
  • Governors Art Commission - 1962-1963
  • Box 12:
  • Grinnell College Board of Overseers - 1962-1964
  • Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project - 1938-1969
  • Works Progress Administration Proposal for an American art show boat
  • Harry Donald James, A Social History of Des Moines mural, Des Moines Public Library - 1937-1941
  • Community Art Center in Burlington proposal - 1936
  • Series 8: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Sub-Series: United Nations
  • Box 12:
  • UN tree planted by boy scouts, Wapello (3 photos)
  • UN activities photographs, misc. (5 photos) - 1955
  • Burlington UN day color photos (3 photos)
  • J.S. Schramm Company UN window display (2 photos)
  • Burlington UN Walk for development promotional photo - 1969-1970
  • Burlington UN day, Eleanor Roosevelts visit (6 photos) - 1955
  • Women tasting foreign recipes - 1956
  • Social History of Des Moines mural by Harry Donald Jones (8 photos)
  • Works Progress Administration Art display (2 photos)
  • Sub-Series: Iowa in the World
  • Box 12:
  • Look Magazine photographs of Paul Engel and Cho Sung-yen (2 photos)
  • Photograph of Iowa Governor Herschel Loveless and Paul Hoffman
  • Photographs of Lord Caradon (2 photos)
  • Burlington Atomic Energy Week (1 photo) - 1947
  • Sub-Series: Unidentified photographs
  • Box 12:
  • Crowd of women listening to lecture - 1950-1959
  • Street scene (2 photos)
  • Sub-Series: Negatives
  • Box 12:
  • Positive of Fatima Shah in front of Japanese Bell near Iowa State Capitol (1 frame)
  • Negatives of a group reviewing UN materials (12 frames)