Josephine Letovsky was born on June 5, 1909 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A 1927 graduate of Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Josephine Letovsky married Edward R. Kuba, Sr. on May 29, 1934. They had two sons, Edward R. Kuba, Jr. and John A. Kuba. Josephine and Edward R. Kuba, Sr., co-founded the Kuba Funeral Homes. Josephine Kuba died on May 6, 1983.
Josephine Kuba devoted much of her life to civic and volunteer service. She was a member of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids, Lodge 262 of the Western Fraternal Life Association, and organized the "Candy Stripers" as president of the Mercy Hospital Auxiliary. Kuba was also a member of Praha Rebekah Lodge No. 5, Daughter of Isabella Circle 534, Czech Heritage Foundation, Federation of Czech Groups, and a life member of the Linn County Historical Museum Association. In 1933 Kuba organized the Z.C. B.J. Girls Drill Team and served as captain for twenty years. Kuba also served as the Iowa Department Woman's Relief Corps Veterans Administration Volunteer Service representative to the Iowa City Veterans Administration Hospital for many years. She was one of the first "Ladies in Blue" when the hospital was commissioned in 1952 and contributed 6500 hours of volunteer service. Much of Josephine Kuba's volunteer work centered on her involvement in the Woman's Relief Corps, the auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic. Kuba was past Department of Iowa president and past national president of the organization. She had also served as national secretary, national patriotic instructor, national senior aide, national counselor, and at the time of her death was the representative on the National Veterans Administration Volunteer Service Board.
The Josephine M. Kuba papers date from 1885 to 1998 and measure 10.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in eight series: Biography, Correspondence, Department of Iowa Woman's Relief Corps, Woman's Relief Corps, National, Veterans Administration Volunteer Service, American Legion Auxiliary, Grand Army of the Republic and Artifacts. The bulk of the papers pertain to the Women's Relief Corps and include a historical record of the organization both in Iowa and nationally that expands beyond Kuba's involvement through convention journals dating back to 1885.
The Biography series is limited. It includes Kuba's 1983 obituary describing her many volunteer activities. The series also includes two newspaper articles regarding Kuba's involvement in the Junior Red Cross when she was a teenager. Also included in the Biography series is a 1936-1937 photo album of Kuba's eldest son Edward R. Kuba, Jr.
The Correspondence series is divided into as both personal and organizational correspondence, although many of the letters overlap the two categories as Kuba became personal friends with many of the women volunteers she associated with in various organizations. The undated correspondence is mixed together, while the dated letters have been separated into personal or organizational. More correspondence may be found in some of the scrapbooks Kuba kept regarding Woman's Relief Corps activities, including a 1973 letter from then-governor of California, Ronald Reagan.
The Department of Iowa Woman's Relief Corps (Iowa WRC) predates Kuba's involvement with the organization by including materials dating back to the 1880s. Of particular historical interest are the convention journals, published after each annual meeting. Kuba's collection of convention journals spans the years 1886 through 1983. There is also a bound History of Iowa Woman's Relief Corps that covers the years 1884 to 1934. Scrapbooks cover many of the activities of the Iowa WRC during the years when Kuba was active. The scrapbook covering Kuba's year as Iowa WRC president, 1948-1949, is kept in its original format. The 1956-1957 scrapbook, consisting almost entirely of newspaper clippings, was in poor and deteriorating condition. The original order was restored to the extent possible and photocopied. This scrapbook contains articles pertaining to the activities of each of the Iowa WRC chapters. This series also contains several papers pertaining to the Marion, Iowa, Robert Mitchell WRC No. 126 chapter that Kuba belonged to, including a brief history of the chapter. There are also papers explaining the organizational structure of the Department of Iowa WRC.
The Woman's Relief Corps -- National(WRC-National) series, like the Iowa WRC series, also predates Kuba's involvement with materials dating back to 1885. The convention journals span the years 1885 to 1987. The Torch Bearers includes biographical materials on several women and men who were instrumental to the early history of the organization. Rules and regulation books date back to 1885, while rituals and services date back to 1899, and burial and memorial services begin with a 1901 copy. This series contains the materials from two binders, one black and the other orange, that Kuba maintained during her tenure as national president, 1972-1973. Kuba also made several scrapbooks while national president. While some of the scrapbooks contain articles from earlier years, the bulk of the scrapbooks and their contents cover 1972 and 1973. Materials kept in magnetic scrapbooks have been removed or photocopied onto archival paper for their preservation. The rest of the scrapbooks remain in their original formats. The photograph album has also been disassembled, with the photos transferred into protective sleeves. Few of the photos are dated or identified. Though they have been filed with the WRC-National, some of the photographs represent other volunteer organizations such as the American Legion Auxiliary and the Veterans Administration Volunteer Service.
The Veterans Administration Volunteer Service (VAVS) series contains material primarily from the late 1970s and early 1980s, although there are some pamphlets that date back to the 1960s. Of particular interest are the materials from Kuba's work study notebook spanning three years, 1969 to 1971. The American Legion Auxiliary series includes the constitution, by-laws and standing rules of the organization and convention journals and reports spanning 1952 through 1975. Materials also include information Kuba collected when she sat on the scholarship committee. There is also quite a bit of material on the Women's Forum on National Security for the years between 1976 and 1981.
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) series contains many historical documents regarding both national and Iowa activities. A 1915 flyer out of Colorado sought Civil War soldiers who might not have used all of their homestead claims. An 1897 leaflet for flag day was written by Henry Sabin. The series also contains a 1936 History of Iowa Department of Grand Army of the Republic and the 1885-1887 minute book for the Robert Mitchell Post No. 206 in Marion, Iowa. Also of interest are the general orders issued from 1929 through 1949 and the encampment journals spanning the years 1887 through 1906.
The Artifacts consist of Woman's Relief Corps convention materials. They include a 1939 pin, a 1958 plate, and an undated thermometer. Also included in the artifacts are an array of state and national WRC convention ribbons spanning the years 1897 through 1979. Many of the ribbons contain photographs of WRC and GAR personalities, while others display colorful representations of state flowers and landmarks.
Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in boxes 1-2, 22 and 24
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. 577 were donated by John Albert Kuba in 1998.
Preferred Citation: Josephine M. Kuba papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.