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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Margaret Talcott Boedecker papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1937-1998
Creator: Boedeker, Margaret Talcott (1919-2000)
Extent: 4.00 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0401
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Teacher with Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1941-1963; vocational counselor and tourism advocate.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Box 1
1 audiocassette [AC503]

Access: The papers are open for research.

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

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 570) were donated by Margaret Talcott Boedeker in 1998 and 1999.

Preferred Citation: Margaret Talcott Boedecker 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

Margaret Talcott was born to the Fayette County farm family of Carrie and Myron Talcott. She graduated from Randalia High School in 1937 and matriculated at Iowa State University (ISU). At ISU, she roomed at Alice Freeman Hall until she graduated in 1941 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics Education.

After graduation, she interviewed for a teaching position in the Ojibway tribal public school at Red Lake, Minnesota, where she taught social science, physical education, and home economics until 1944.

In 1944, she joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs and was assigned to a school in Araibi, Arizona to teach Hopi children. She was transferred when the incoming principal's wife was certified to teach home economics. The following year, she taught in Macy, Nebraska, where she enjoyed working under the Cherokee principal, George Washington. At Macy, she primarily taught children of the Winnebago and Omaha tribes. During this assignment, she went to a summer school sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Carson City, Nevada.

In 1948, she realized her goal of teaching in Alaska. The first year, she taught third grade Aleut and other native children at a temporary school in Wrangell, Alaska. These students had been evacuated from Stewart Island during the war and spoke no English. Talcott was transferred the following year to a high school in White Mountain, Alaska where she again taught home economics to high school students as well as supervising the girl's dormitory and kitchen. White Mountain was east of Nome and accessible only by boat, sled, or bush plane.

In 1951, she transferred to the Sherman Institute in Riverside, California. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had recently transferred native-speaking Navajos to this English-speaking school in California. Unhappy with the situation and concerned about her father's poor health, Talcott resigned from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and returned to Iowa. Finding her father's health stable, she returned to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Elbow Woods, North Dakota, on the Missouri River. In 1953, the year she taught there, her father died. When this town was removed for a dam project, she transferred to the Pine Ridge reservation school in South Dakota's Black Hills. Her mother made several trips to visit with her while she worked at Pine Ridge.

While there, she helped place and supervised Sioux students in tourist or farm jobs, leading her to pursue, in 1958, graduate work in vocational counseling at Stout College in Menominee, Wisconsin. When a family friend suggested she transfer to the University of South Dakota at Brookings and staff a National Institute of Health research project, she agreed. She received a master's degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of South Dakota in 1961.

That year, her mother urged her to return to Iowa to marry Martin Boedeker, a local widower with two young sons. After a brief courtship, they married on July 29, 1961 and farmed Tall Oaks, the Talcott farm, until 1966.

From 1966 to 1981, Margaret Boedeker worked as a rehabilitation counselor in Waterloo, Iowa. During this time, she served as president of a ten-state vocational rehabilitation professional organization.

After Martin Boedeker died in 1981, she moved to Maynard, Iowa and worked for Fayette County Social Service Department and opened a bed and breakfast. Boedeker was an active volunteer with the Commission of Persons with Disabilities and her church. In 1987, Boedeker was instrumental in organizing the Fayette County Tourism Council. She and her sister Gladys Rife also purchased Fayette County landmarks for restoration and reuse. In 1997, she won a state tourism award for the length of her service.

Margaret Talcott Boedeker died after a short illness on February 22, 2000.

The Margaret Talcott Boedeker papers date from 1937 to 1998 and measure four linear inches. The collection is arranged in four series: Family, School, Teaching, and Volunteer activities. The bulk of this collection is comprised of photographs from Boedeker's teaching positions at various Bureau of Indian Affairs schools between 1941 and 1958 and documents relating to her work promoting tourism in northeast Iowa from 1991 to 1998.

The Family series (c.1940-1960) contains undated photographs of her parents, sister Gladys Talcott Rife, and other unidentified family members. Many photographs include children in rural settings.

The School series (1937-1998) consists primarily of group and individual photographs of her dormitory roommates from Alice Freeman Hall at Iowa State University. There are also a few round robin letters from 1986 to 1996 that represent a small fraction of the continuous correspondence between Alice Freeman Hall friends since their graduation in 1941.

The Teaching series (1941-1958) contains identified and unidentified photographs of the various locations at which she taught: Red Lake, Minnesota (1941-1944); Araibi, Arizona (1944-1947); Macy, Nebraska (1947-1948); Carson City, Nevada summer school (1948); Wrangle, Alaska (1948-1949); White Mountain, Alaska (1949-1951); and Pine Ridge, South Dakota (1952-58). This series also contains correspondence written to her sister Gladys Rife from Araibi, Wrangell, White Mountain, and Pine Ridge. There is one Summary Report of Student Employment from Pine Ridge (1957). There is one audiocassette, recorded in 1999, in which Margaret Boedeker offers details about her teaching positions and the photographs in the collection.

The Volunteer series (1987-1998) contains certificates of her status as a member of the Commission of Persons with Disabilities (1991), her activity with her church, and material relating to her activities promoting tourism in northeastern Iowa.
Gladys Talcott Rife papers (Iowa Women's Archives): Rife is the sister of Boedeker.

Carrie Talcott papers (Iowa Women's Archives): Talcott was the mother of Boedeker. Her papers include travel diaries covering her visits to Margaaret Talcott in Pine Ridge, South Dakota from 1954 to 1961. It also includes maps and Black Hills visitor guides from the period. The 1961 diary of Carrie Talcott includes the preparations for the marriage of Martin Boedeker and Margaret Talcott.

Browse by Series:
Series 3: TEACHING

  • Box 1:
  • Rural setting - 1915
  • Children, undated
  • Family visit, undated
  • Gladys Rife family, undated
  • Series 2: SCHOOLING
  • Box 1:
  • High school writing - 1937
  • Iowa State University roomates photographs - 1937-1941
  • Iowa State University roomates round robin correspondence - 1986-1996
  • Series 3: TEACHING
  • Box 1:
  • Correspondence, Araibi, Arizona - 1944-1945
  • Correspondence, Alaska - 1947-1948
  • Correspondence, Pine Rdiges, S. Dakota - 1951
  • Newsletters, Pine Ridge, SD - 1957-1958
  • Newsletters, Red Lake, MN - 1972
  • "Report of Student Employment Pine Ridge, SD" - 1957
  • Photographs, Red lake, MN - 1941-1944
  • Photographs, Araibi, AZ - 1944
  • Photographs, Macy, NE - 1947, 1972
  • Photographs, Carson City, NV - 1947
  • Photographs, White Mountain, AK - 1948-1951
  • Photographs, Pine Ridge, SD - 1953-1960
  • Box 1:
  • Commission of Persons with Disibilities - 1991
  • Northeast Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America - 1988-1989
  • Tourism, Iowa Division of - 1997-1998
  • Tourism, Fayette County, Iowa, 1997
  • Tourism, newspaper clippings - 1987-1998