Guide to the Muriel Anne Dryden papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1935-1990
Creator: Dryden, Muriel Anne (1911-1993)
Extent: 2.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0203
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Federal government employee who held various positions during her career, including White House mail analyst.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in boxes 2 and 5

Access: The papers are open for research.

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

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 284) were donated by Jean Henderson in 1995.

Preferred Citation: Muriel Anne Dryden 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

Muriel Anne Dryden was born on December 26, 1911 to Clifford and Grace Dryden. The eldest of four sisters, Dryden grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, and graduated from East High in 1930. She attended business college in Des Moines as well as communications school to qualify for duty in World War II.

Dryden's professional career was spent in governmental service. In 1944, she joined the Office of War Information and continued her employment with the United States government until her retirement in 1974. She spent twelve years in New York City working in communications for the Office of War Information, the United States Mission to the United Nations and the Voice of America (VOA). Most of her work during these positions involved handling news desk copy. In 1956, she moved to Washington, D.C. with the VOA under the wing of the United States Information Agency (USIA). She transferred to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, taking a position in a research library in 1962. From 1969 to 1974, she spent five years at the White House during the Nixon administration as a mail analyst in the Executive Office Building.

Throughout her professional career in Washington, Dryden worked at the Washington bureau for several newspapers including Newsweek, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Baltimore Sun. In these positions, she moonlighted as a part-time teletypist responsible for minor editing on both government and private-sector news items.

Upon retirement from the White House in 1974, Dryden wrote but did not finish a book about Dr. George Lamsa and his translation of the Holy Bible from the Aramaic language. The book remains unpublished.

Dryden passed away on December 14, 1993.

Content Description

The Muriel Anne Dryden papers date from 1935 to 1990 and measure 2.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in five series: Personal, Professional, Writings, Newspaper clippings, and Photographs. The bulk of the papers document Dryden's personal life through photographs and memorabilia as well as her work on a book about the translation of the Holy Bible from Aramaic and the cultural history of the peoples of Kurdistan.

The Personal series (1935-1990 and undated) contains family memoirs, personal correspondence, a journal discussing Dryden's social and political views, school memorabilia and travel logs from her journeys to England. The personal correspondence provides insight into Dryden's political views, especially in the "letters to the editor" correspondence. One noteworthy item is a draft of a letter to Julie Nixon discussing Dryden's personal perspective of Watergate as "an injustice of the entire show which is all it was." (Correspondence, Personal, 1984-1990 and undated.) This appears to be the only place in the collection where Watergate is mentioned.

The Professional series (1944-1985 and undated) encompasses Dryden's years as a government employee. This series has abundant personnel records from her employment, including a "Security Investigation" document. This series also contains some of the social invitations she received from the White House and prominent Republican Party politicians.

The Writings series (1958, 1976-1986 and undated) includes two written chapters of the book and copious notes from which the manuscript would have been written. The notes cover a broad scope, ranging from the Aramaic language, to Eastern thought and expression, to descriptions of Assyria. This series also contains the paper "Eastern Scriptures in Western Language" written by Dryden on the subject she was expanding upon to create the book. This series also contains two unpublished articles.

The Newspaper clippings series (1960-1976 and undated) includes a few articles written by Dryden as well as articles on her participation in notable choral performances with Duke Ellington and for President Eisenhower at the White House.

The Photographs series (1938-1981 and undated) consists primarily of personal photographs of family and friends, along with a few professional photographs of Dryden in various places of employment. An autographed photograph of President Nixon and his staff is also included.

Related Materials

Pauline Lyon papers (IWA): Lyon was Muriel Anne Dryden's sister.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Browse by Series:


This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Dryden, Muriel, 1911-1993
Lamsa, George M. (George Mamishisho), 1893-1974

20th century

Women and war
Women in communication

Government employees

Geographic Names:
United States -- New York -- New York City
United States -- District of Columbia -- Washington

Genre/Form of Materials:
Personal papers

Women and War