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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Dora E. Mackay papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1932-2006
Creator: Mackay, Dora E. (1915-)
Extent: .25 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0248
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: African American singer and beauty shop owner in Des Moines, Iowa.

Alternate Extent Statement: One audiocassette [AC1109].

Arrangement: One folder, shelved in SCVF; one audiocassette [AC1109] shelved in audiocassette collection.

Access: The papers are open for research.

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

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 346) were donated by Dora E. Mackay in 1996 and subsequent years.

Preferred Citation: Dora E. Mackay 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 E. Mackay, an African-American singer and beauty shop owner in Des Moines, was born on August 12, 1915 to Ernest and Izora Mackay. As a high-school student in 1931, Mackay became a founding member of the Mary Church Terrell Club, a social and civic club in Des Moines. She remained an active member.

Mackay attended the Crescent School of Beauty and Culture in Des Moines and was a member of its first graduating class in 1940. Later that year, Mackay assumed ownership of Berline's Beauty Shop, one of a small number of black beauty shops in Des Moines. She retired in 1978.

Although she built a career in cosmetology, Mackay pursued singing as a side interest. During the 1940s, she sang and played the piano for local radio stations. She performed as a singer at the club Johnny and Kay's for ten years during the 1970s.

The Dora E. Mackay papers date from 1932 to the 2006 and measure 0.25 linear inches. The collection consists of photographs, primarily of Mackay, newspaper clippings, and an oral history interview conducted by Kären Mason in 2006. Other individuals featured include Dora Mackay's sister, Virginia Mackay Williams, and members of the Mary Church Terrell club.
Verda L. Williams papers (IWA): Verda Williams is Dora Mackay's niece.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Mackay, Dora
  • AC1109: Oral history - 2006