Alberta Evelyn Swan was born on June 26, 1907 in Roca, Nebraska to Minnie Leora Jacaway Swan and Arthur Henry Swan. Arthur Swan worked for the Rock Island Railroad. The family moved to Colorado for a time, but returned to Wiota, Iowa. Alberta Swan attended the Simpson Conservatory in Indianola, Iowa from 1926-1928, where she majored in voice and violin. At Simpson, Swan met George L. Lehman, who was waiting tables in the college's dining hall. Swan corresponded with George Lehman when he was a tuberculosis patient at the Oakdale Sanatorium near Iowa City, Iowa in 1927. In 1930, the couple was secretly married in Owatonna, Minnesota. George Lehman became the first treasurer of the University of Iowa Credit Union in Iowa City, while Alberta Lehman taught school in Ainsworth, Iowa. The couple made Iowa City their home, where they raised two sons and three daughters.
Biographical information provided by Leora Lehman Hein, daughter of Alberta and George Lehman.
The Alberta Lehman papers date from 1874 to 1932 and measure 9 linear inches. The papers are arranged in four series: Family, Correspondence, School, and Photographs.
The Family series consists primarily of correspondence, including a copy and transcript of the 1874 marriage proposal of Alberta Lehman's grandfather, J.C. Swan, to her grandmother, Lizzie Bateman. There is also a 1915 correspondence between J.C. Swan and Dr. M. Nordland for services the doctor rendered to a child in Ute on J.C. Swan's behalf. (Ute was probably the Ute Indian Reservation in Colorado.) Other correspondence in the Family series is from Lizzie Bateman Swan to her daughter, Justie and her granddaughters, Alberta and Elnora (nicknamed Dutch). J.C. and Lizzie Swan owned a hotel in Naturita, Colorado. Several of the letters are written on the hotel's stationery. The Swans also owned a ranch and in 1921, they rented out their hotel and moved to the ranch full time. Lizzie Swan's 1925 letter to her daughter Justie describes the long hours and hard work endured at the ranch. The Family series also contains a 1926 letter written to Alberta Lehman from her father just as she came down with the measles while attending Simpson Conservatory. Other items in the Family series include the marriage certificates for J.C. Swan and Lizzie Bateman (Alberta Lehman's grandparents) and for Minnie Leora Jacaway and Arthur H. Swan (Alberta Lehman's parents). There are also nine editions of Needlecraft the Home Arts Magazine dated from 1920-1932. They include the subscription labels for Mrs. A.H. Swan, Alberta Lehman's mother.
The Correspondence series is made up entirely of letters Alberta Lehman received from her Simpson Conservatory classmates and instructors while she was at home recuperating from illness. In February 1926, Lehman apparently came down with the measles, although she later disputed this, claiming only to have contracted laryngitis. In any case, Lehman had to leave school for a time to recuperate at home. She received correspondence from her two college roommates, Lucille Munson and Serena Howard, other classmates, and from her harmony instructor, Frank H. Banyard. Banyard allowed Lehman to continue her studies via the mails and sent her corrected papers and assignments. The two continued their correspondence after he left Simpson for a new job. Several of the letters in this series are copies of the originals kept in Lehman's school scrapbook.
The School series consists of a scrapbook that Lehman kept during her tenure at Simpson Conservatory from 1926-1928. The scrapbook is very fragile. A copy of the handwritten transcription Lehman made of the lyrics for Simpson's school songs has been made from the scrapbook and placed in a folder for easier access. Many of the original letters from the scrapbook have also been copied. These copies have been integrated into the Correspondence series.
The Photograph series consists of an undated photograph of J.C. Swan as a young man, and a series of stamps bearing a photograph of J.C. Swan when he was a little older. There is also a photograph taken around 1912 by J.C. Swan of his wife, Lizzie Bateman Swan and their granddaughter, Alberta Swan.
Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Box 1.
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. 524) were donated by Leora Lehman Hein in 1998.
Preferred Citation: Alberta Lehman papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.