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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Dora Mason papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1915-2012
Creator: Mason, Dora (1896-1999)
Extent: 7.50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0221
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Sculptor and art teacher who traveled and studied sculpture across Europe and North America.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Box 1

Access: The papers are open for research.

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

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 306) were donated by Edward and Dordana Mason in 1995.

Preferred Citation: Dora Mason 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

Dora Eaton Mason, sculptor and art teacher, was born in Wyoming in 1896 to Henry H. Eaton and Sally Thurloway Eaton. In 1919 Eaton married Edward Files Mason, and gave birth to son Edward Eaton Mason a year later. In 1929 Edward F. Mason became a professor of journalism at the University of Iowa. Dora Mason received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Idaho in 1918, and in 1939 earned her Master of Arts degree in sculpture from the University of Iowa. Her thesis sculpture, 'Old Amana', was a life-sized bust of octogenarian Mary Eichacher, displayed at the Amana Heritage Museum. In addition, Mason trained in pottery at Mills College in southern California. She was a prolific lecturer who traveled around the country and was active as a volunteer in the Iowa City area teaching art and art appreciation. Dora E. Mason's sculptures have been exhibited and have won awards throughout the United States and Canada. Her works include a bust of Nile Kinnick--the only life portrait of Kinnick, sculpted during his senior year at the University of Iowa. Son Edward Eaton Mason became a professor of Surgery at the University of Iowa.

The Dora Mason papers date from 1915 to 1994 and measure 110 linear inches. The papers are arranged in two series: Personal and Professional.

The Personal series (1915-1994 and undated) contains Dora Mason's book Adventures in Making Faces; an anonymous work entitled "From an Interesting Place As Lived by Dora Mason"; the transcript of an interview with Mason at the age of ninety-five; a draft of her obituary written before her death; a scrapbook containing photographs and newspaper clippings from 1915 to 1994; two travel logs from some of her numerous trips, an autobiographical work entitled "Union Pacific Ties"; and several photographs mainly dating from her ninetieth birthday party in 1986.

The Professional series (1935-1940, 1969, 1986, 2012 and undated) is comprised of several letters referring to Mason's many speaking engagements and exhibitions, several drafts and samples of her stories and poems, and her art portfolio which contains photographs of her many sculptures. Additional materials include a 2012 documentary film about Mason's life and career, featuring a 1992 interview with Mason on her creation of the Nile Kinnick bust. Also included is an interview of Margaret Moeller Nelson, a sculpture model Mason used when Nelson was a teenager in 1952. The documentary film was created by Iowa City filmmaker Susan Wakefield, who conducted multiple interviews and included research material from the Iowa Women's Archives. Digital files include photographs, documents, and extended video footage used in the making of the documentary, and a research notebook compiled by Wakefield that includes guides to the digital materials, as well as transcripts and newspaper clippings on the life of Dora Mason.

Browse by Series:
Series 1:

  • Series 1:
  • Box 1:
  • "Adventures in Making Faces"
    [shelved in the printed works collection]
  • "From an Interesting Place"
  • Interview by RoseMary Mason - 1991
  • Obituary
  • Scrapbook - 1915-1994
  • Loose newspaper clippings and photographs - 1914-1994
    [removed from scrapbook]
  • Travel logs - 1959, 1969
  • "Union Pacific Ties"
  • Photographs - 1968
  • Series 2: PROFESSIONAL
  • Box 1:
  • Correspondence - 1935-1940
  • Stories, speeches, and poems
  • Newspaper clippings - 1969, 1986
    [removed from portfolio]
  • Box 2:
  • Portfolio
  • Documentary film notebook - 2012
  • "Dora Mason portrait sculptor"digital files - 2012
  • "Dora Mason portrait sculptor" DVD - 2012
  • "Dora Mason portrait sculptor" DVD with Margaret Moeller Nelson interview - 2012
  • Dora Mason interview on Kinnick bust DVD - 1992