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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Nancy Pfeiffer Towner papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1966-2004
Creator: Towner, Nancy Pfeiffer (1924-2003)
Extent: 1.00 linear foot.
Collection Number: IWA0378
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Iowa City artist and poet who published in a variety of journals and won numerous awards for her work.

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. 540) were donated by Nancy Pfeiffer Towner and Mark Towner in 2000 and subsequent years, and by Lois Muehl (donor no. 709) in 2003.

Preferred Citation: Nancy Pfeiffer Towner 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

Nancy Pfeiffer Towner, artist and writer, was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1924. She studied art at the University of Iowa under Philip Guston from 1943 to 1944 and then proceeded to the Art Institute of Chicago for study until 1947. From 1955 to 1956, Towner acted as exhibit director for the Evanston Community Center Gallery, and from 1963 to 1965 she used a scholarship to study under Paul Weigardt at the Evanston Art Center. Towner acted as exhibit director of the Evanston Art Center in 1968 and participated in a number of art exhibitions throughout the 1970s. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1975 and served on the board of directors for the West Hubbard Gallery in Chicago from 1979 to 1980.

In 1982, Nancy Pfeiffer Towner and her husband Robert Towner moved to Iowa City. She studied poetry under Daryl Hine and continued to exhibit her works in Iowa City and at the E.V. Gallery and Circleworks Vision Gallery in New York City. Her drawings and poetry have been published in poetry journals including Iowa Woman, Diacritics, Lyrical Iowa, Midwest Poetry, 100 Words, Rhino, Standing Alone, and The Literary Review. Her poetry has received many prizes, including the Illinois Arts Council's Prize for Poetry (1981).

Towner was active in the National League of American Pen Women, Iowa City Branch, and received numerous awards at the organization's national competitions in sculpture, drawing, and painting. She presented lectures on her art at Arts Iowa City and participated in the Iowa Women Writers program. Nancy Pfieffer Towner passed away on January 2, 2003 in Iowa City.

The Nancy Pfeiffer Towner papers date from 1966 to 2004 and measure 1 linear foot.  The Exhibit files contain newspaper clippings, receipts, correspondence, and notes from Towner's exhibitions. Unpublished works in the collection include Towner's "Fairy tales for grownups," assorted poems from the late 1990s, essays on art, and two artist's books containing art and poetry. Towner's published works in the collection include eleven years of bulletin cover art and poetry from Trinity Church in Iowa City and works that she published in journals including Format: Art in the World, Diacritics, Permafrost Literary Journal, The Literary Review, The Hamden-Sydney Poetry Review, and Standing Alone. Biographical information includes Towner's résumé, her obituary (and that of her husband), and the program from her memorial service.  The second series contains fourteen other artist's books created by Towner.
National League of American Pen Women, Iowa City Branch (IWA): Nancy Pfeiffer Towner was a member of this organization.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Biographical information - 2000-2004
  • Exhibit files (folder 1) - 1964-2000
  • Exhibit files (folder 2) - 1964-2000
  • Exhibit files (folder 3) - 1964-2000
  • Exhibit files (folder 4) - 1964-2000
  • Exhibit files (folder 5) - 1964-2000
  • Exhibit files (folder 6) - 1964-2000
  • Exhibit files (folder 7) - 1964-2000
  • Exhibit files (folder 8) - 1964-2000
  • Unpublished works: Artist books, undated - 1970-1999
  • Unpublished works: "Fairy tales for grownups"
  • Unpublished works: Unpublished poetry - 1999-2000
  • Unpublished works: Essays on art, undated
  • Unpublished works: Digital art image, undated
  • Published works: Sunday bulletin covers, Trinity Church, Iowa City - 1994-1997
  • Published works: Published poetry and art (folder 1) - 1979-1997
  • Published works: Published poetry and art (folder 2) - 1979-1997
  • Series 2: ARTIST'S BOOKS
  • Box 2:
  • “Underwater,” “Unusual Plants,” and “Stars”
  • “and went up the mountain to pray” and “Feet”
  • “Hurricane” and untitled accordion book
  • “Lanny Awakened” and “Fairy Tales for Grownups”
  • “A Deep Springs Devotional” and “I have 2 whistles in my boat”
  • “The Birth of the Artist” and “Outside the Inside”
  • “Wrappings”