Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Bernice Larson Boyum papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1943-1948
Creator: Boyum, Bernice Larson (1922- )
Extent: 1.00 linear inch.
Collection Number: IWA0194
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Ellsworth, Iowa, woman who served in World War II.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 275) were donated by Bernice Larson Boyum in 1995.

Preferred Citation: Bernice Larson Boyum 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

Clara Bernice Larson, WAVES (Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service) enlistee, social worker and women's dean, was born on July 15, 1922 in Story City, Iowa, and raised on a farm near Ellsworth, Iowa. After graduating from high school in 1940, she worked as a nanny and domestic servant for a Jewish family in Des Moines, Iowa. Wanting to attend college but lacking the financial means, Larson worked at a variety of other jobs, and farmed on her family's farm until she decided to enlist in the Navy WAVES in 1943.

She attended boot camp at Hunter College in New York and was transferred to Columbus, Ohio, and then to Great Lakes Naval Station in Chicago. Larson served as a supply office worker and achieved the rank of storekeeper, second class, by the time she was honorably discharged in February 1946.

Larson used her benefits from the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (commonly known as the GI Bill) to attend college and graduated from Luther College in 1949 as a social studies major. Larson found employment as a social worker with Lutheran Social Services in Des Moines. She married Arnie Boyum. When they adopted a child in 1962 she stopped working outside the home. Boyum later became dean of women at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. Boyum is a member, and co-historian, of the Des Moines chapter of WAVES National, an organization of former WAVES that undertakes community support work.

The Bernice Larson Boyum papers date from 1943 to 1993 and measure 1 linear inch. The papers provide a glimpse into the experiences of a young woman in the military during World War II and how she, as a veteran, utilized the GI bill. They include official Navy correspondence and forms regarding Larson's status and benefits, newspapers clippings about her, WAVES memorabilia, and photographs.

Browse by Series:

  • Box 1:
  • Women in the Navy pamphlet - 1993
  • Navy documents - 1943-1948
  • Photographs of Boyum - 1943-1946
  • WAVES materials
  • Pins and handkerchief
  • Bible (with three uniform decorations)