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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Elizabeth Anna Gernes papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1929-1996
Creator: Gernes, Elizabeth Anna (1907-1996)
Extent: .50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0270
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Educator and Red Cross worker.

Alternate Extent Statement: 1 audiocassette [AC341]

Arrangement: Two folders, shelved in SCVF; one audiocassette [AC341] shelved in audiocassette collection.

Access: The oral history is open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 374) were donated by R. H. Gernes in 1996 and 1997.

Preferred Citation: Elizabeth Anna Gernes 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

Elizabeth Anna Gernes, educator and Red Cross leader, was born in 1907 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When a child, she moved with her parents, William H. Gernes and Anna Philomina Deutscher Gernes, to Winona, Minnesota. Gernes graduated from the College of St. Teresa, a Catholic women's college in Winona, where she majored in physics and mathematics. After college she taught science and math in high schools in northern and southeastern Minnesota.

During the 1930s Gernes worked briefly for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Iowa as a Director of Training. She helped people develop skills needed to become trained health care workers.

By 1943 Gernes had earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in secondary education at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Around this time, Gernes also began work with the Red Cross as a General Field Representative in the Midwest. By the spring of 1955 Gernes had been named Director of the American Junior Red Cross in Western Europe and was based in Stuttgart, West Germany. She traveled extensively in Western Europe and North Africa to promote youth participation in Junior Red Cross programs. Two and a half years later, Gernes returned to the United States and worked as Director of Training for the American Red Cross in San Francisco, coordinating chapters in twelve western states.

Gernes retired from the Red Cross in 1972 but remained active in relief and other volunteer work. In the late 1970s the Shah requested Gernes by name to organize Junior Red Crosses in Iran. The International Red Cross subsequently requested a report from Gernes on humanitarian conditions there. In 1983 Gernes returned to Iowa and moved to Johnston, Iowa.

The Elizabeth Anna Gernes papers date from 1929 to 1996 and measure 0.5 linear inches. The biographical folder includes a 14-page transcript of an orgal history interview, recorded on July 10, 1996 by Rachel Bohlmann in Des Moines, Iowa. Gernes discusses her education, including her graduate work at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, her brief tenure with the WPA, and her long career with the Red Cross in the United States and abroad. The Red Cross files include letters from Iran written during Gernes' service with the International Red Cross in 1973. There are also undated trip logs from her work with the Red Cross in Kenya and Greece as well as performance evaluations and a handwriting analysis.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: Elizabeth Anna Gernes

  • Series 1: Elizabeth Anna Gernes
  • Biographical - 1929-1996
  • Oral history interview - 1996
  • Red Cross, 1995-1981