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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Clara Steen Skott papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1899-1994
Creator: Skott, Clara Steen (1888-1994)
Extent: 2.70 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0216
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Free-lance writer, home economics teacher, and civic leader who wrote articles and diaries concerning life in Iowa, China, and Wisconsin.

Alternate Extent Statement: Artifacts in boxes 9-10
Photographs in Box 8

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. 300) were donated by Signe Skott Cooper in 1995 and succeeding years.

Preferred Citation: Clara Steen Skott 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 Steen (Skott) was born on October 11, 1888, in Menlo, Iowa, the daughter of Frederick and Mary Steen. When she was eleven the family moved to West Liberty, Iowa, where her father farmed. She graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and attended Iowa State College (now Iowa State University), majoring in home economics with studies in journalism as well. In 1917 she married a college classmate, Hans Skott, and moved for a short time to South Dakota, where he was a county agent. They had three daughters, Hilda, Signe, and Kathryn, and one son, Frank.

From 1920 to 1933 the Skotts farmed in northeast Iowa, and in 1937 moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where Hans Skott worked for the United States Department of Agriculture. During the war, he was employed by the United States Army as a civilian and the family lived in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1946 and 1947 the Skotts lived in Shanghai, China, where Hans was employed by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRAA). During that time Clara Skott taught high school home economics. They returned to Wisconsin in 1947, settling in Middleton, where Clara Skott remained after her husband died in1952. She moved to a Madison retirement home in 1976 and died in 1994 at the age of 105.

Clara Skott was an active freelance journalist and a devoted civic leader. She wrote articles on home economics for Successful Farming and The Farmer's Wife during the 1910s and was a regular contributor to the Middleton Times-Tribune for many years. Among her numerous civic activities, Skott was president of the Middleton Women's Club, The Middleton Garden Club, and the Women's Guild of the Middleton Community Church. In 1956 she helped organize the Middleton Senior Citizens and served as their volunteer director for sixteen years. She was the first recipient of the Service to Mankind award of the Sertoma Club of Middleton.

The Clara Steen Skott papers date from 1899 to 1994 and measure 2.7 linear feet. The papers are arranged in six series: Biographical information, Writings, Account books, Diaries, Travel, Photographs, and Artifacts.

The Biographical information series (1899-1994) consists primarily of newspaper clippings about Skott, as well as awards, report cards, and some family correspondence, and a biographical sketch written in 1993 by her daughter, Hilda Skott.

Many of the articles Skott published during her lifetime appear in the Writings series (1913-1978). They include a number of her early writings (1910s) which appeared in farm magazines such as Successful Farming, The Country Gentleman, and The Farmer's Wife. From 1976 to 1978 Skott wrote a column, "Clara's Comments," for the Middleton Times-Tribune. Many of these articles are included in the Writings series. Detailed records of the Skott family finances are found in the Account books series (1923-1963).

The daily events in Skott's life are recorded in the Diaries series (1908-1990), beginning when she was nineteen years old and continuing until her hundredth year. No diaries exist for seventeen of the years.

Skott's stay in China after World War II, various trips in the United States from 1957 to 1964, and to Europe in 1965 are recorded in diaries in the Travel series (1946-1965). A scrapbook of her life in China completes the series.

The Photographs series (1900-1990) consists of an album of family pictures. Primarily from the early part of the century, the photographs also include scenes of rural life, farming and Iowa State College.

The Artifacts series (undated) consists of articles from China, including a lacquered tea set, chopsticks, doll, and an embroidered shoe for a bound foot.

Browse by Series:
Series 2: WRITINGS
Series 4: DIARIES
Series 5: TRAVEL

  • Box 1:
  • Awards - 1980, 1985
  • Biographical sketch [written by Hilda Skott] - 1993
  • Education - 1899-1905, 1912
  • Family and friends correspondence and documents - 1917, 1940-1949, 1977
  • Newspaper clippings - 1921-1994
  • Yearbook, McTyeirean School - 1947
  • Series 2: WRITINGS
  • Sub-Series: Correspondence
  • Box 1:
  • With publishers - 1913-1917, 1927, 1938
  • Sub-Series: Published articles
  • Box 1:
  • General - 1912-1917, 1927
  • Pasted in "Transactions: Iowa Horticultural Society," 1904, vol. 42 - 1912-1916
  • "Clara's Comments" in Middleton Times-Tribune: loose clippings - 1976-1978
  • Manuscripts, undated
  • Box 7:
  • "Clara's Comments" scrapbook - 1976-1978
  • Series 3: ACCOUNT BOOKS
  • Box 2:
  • 22 account books [except 1941, 1947, 1951] - 1923-1962
  • Box 3:
  • 3 account books - 1953-1963
  • Series 4: DIARIES
  • Box 3:
  • 2 diaries [1908-1909 and 1913-1914] - 1908-1914
  • Box 4:
  • 2 diaries - 1935-1939
  • 2 diaries - 1940-1941
  • 2 diaries - 1942-1947
  • 3 diaries [except 1953, 1955-1959] - 1948-1964
  • Box 5:
  • 2 diaries - 1965-1973
  • 3 diaries [except 1980] - 1974-1981
  • 2 diaries - 1983-1990
  • Flower record diary - 1958-1970
  • Series 5: TRAVEL
  • Box 6:
  • Diary, Hangchow, China - 1946
  • Diary, S.S.General Gordon journey and residence in China - 1946
  • Diary, United States - 1957-1964
  • Diary, Europe - 1965
  • Photograph album, China - 1946-1947
  • Series 6: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 8:
  • Album - 1900-1990
  • Series 7: ARTIFACTS
  • Box 9:
  • Cream pitcher
  • Saucers
  • Sugar bowl
  • Tea pot
  • Box 10:
  • Doll with china head
  • Chopsticks
  • Shoe for a bound foot
  • Spoons
  • Tea cups
  • Tongs