Guide to the Gladys Talcott Rife papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1920-2002
Creator: Rife, Gladys Talcott (1914-2002)
Extent: 1.25 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0284
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Mt.Vernon, Iowa high school teacher who later owned and directed The Depot Museum in Fayette County, Iowa.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Box 3
4 audiocassettes [AC 417-420].

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. 387) were donated by Gladys Talcott Rife in 1996 and succeeding years.

Preferred Citation: Gladys Talcott Rife papers, Iowa Women 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

Gladys Talcott Rife, a farm wife, teacher, newspaper columnist, museum owner and curator, was born on September 8, 1914 to Carrie and Myron Talcott on a farm near Maynard in Fayette County. Talcott graduated from Randalia High School and received her B.A. at Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) in 1934, majoring in English, with minors in history and speech. From 1934 to 1940 Talcott taught high school English and speech and directed theater programs in schools in Van Cleve, Lone Tree, and Sumner.

In 1940, Gladys Talcott interrupted her teaching career to marry Wayne Rife. She spent the next years as a farm wife and the mother of five children. While doing this, Rife began to write a weekly newspaper column, in 1948 for the Lone Tree Reporter, and in 1951 for the Iowa City Press Citizen. The Press Citizen column ran for ten years.

In 1955, Rife resumed teaching, this time in Nichols, Iowa. Three years later Wayne and Gladys Rife moved to Mt. Vernon where Rife taught at Mt. Vernon Community High School for twenty-one years. In 1966, Rife received an M.A. in English with an emphasis on Modern American and British Literature from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). After receiving her M.A., Rife did some adjunct teaching at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon.

Wayne Rife died in 1975 and four years later, Gladys Rife retired from teaching to intern at the University of Iowa's Museum of Natural History as an archivist and research assistant. In 1965, Gladys and Wayne Rife had purchased the old Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad depot in Fayette County. Between 1980 and 1989, Rife supervised construction and furnishing of The Depot Museum, a private museum of which she was owner, curator, and director.

Once again, Rife resumed her education, entering the Ph.D. program in American Studies at the University of Iowa. In 1988, at the age of seventy-three, she completed her dissertation, "Iowa Rural Women Columnists, Especially of the Fifties: Cultural and Historical Import in a Comparative Context," earning a doctorate in American Studies with a minor in Women's Studies.

Gladys Talcott Rife died after a short illness on February 11, 2002.

Content Description

The Gladys Talcott Rife papers measure 1.25 linear feet and date from 1920 to 1995. The papers are arranged in six series: Biographical; Columns; Education; Dissertation Research; Professional Activities; and Photographs.

The Biographical series contains newspaper clippings, educational records, a resume of the various experiences and accomplishments of Gladys Talcott Rife, and her personal memoir.

The Columns consist of newspaper columns written by Rife for various farm magazines, the Lone Tree Reporter, and the Iowa City Press Citizen between 1948 and 1961. Most have been photocopied onto acid-free paper.

The Education series includes student records and papers Rife wrote while a graduate student at the University of Iowa.

The Dissertation Research series mainly consists of research files on newspaper columnists Rife studied for her dissertation. Folders about individual columnists may contain newspaper columns as well as correspondence with Rife.

The Professional Activities series contains information about her activities with The Depot Museum, and correspondence and newspaper clippings involving her teaching career. This series also contains a book review and newsletter that Rife wrote.

The Photographs are of Gladys Talcott Rife and her family.

Related Materials

In IWA: Carrie Talcott papers.
Gladys Talcott Rife's mother.

In IWA: Margaret Talcott Boedecker papers.
Gladys Talcott Rife's sister.

In IWA: Iowa Press Women Inc. papers.
The Iowa Press Inc. contains information about women columnists of Iowa.

Papers of columnists included in the Gladys Rife dissertation include:
Wilma Belden Collins
Grace Jones
Miriam Baker Nye
Elizabeth Wherry

In IWA: Printed Works Collection...

Gladys Talcott Rife's dissertation, "Iowa Rural Women Columnists, Especially of the Fifties: Cultural and Historical Import in a Comparative Context," May 1998

Detailed Description of the Collection

Browse by Series:


This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Rife, Gladys Talcott
Hoidahl, Florence
Shelley, Jack, 1912-

Corporate Names:
University of Iowa
Depot Museum (Fayette County, Iowa)
Iowa State Teachers College

20th century

Rural women
Women in education
Women in journalism
Railroad stations

English teachers
Graduate students
High school teachers
Museum directors
College students

Geographic Names:
United States -- Iowa -- Iowa City
United States -- Iowa -- Mount Vernon
United States -- Iowa -- Lone Tree
United States -- Iowa -- Fayette County

Genre/Form of Materials:
Oral histories (Document genres)
Personal papers
Sound recordings

Rural and Farm Women
Teachers and Teaching