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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Jean Minish Stoner papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1957-1997
Creator: Stoner, Jean Minish (1920-)
Extent: 2.50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0461
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Farmwoman, writer, and community volunteer near Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright has been retained by the donor.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 676) were donated by Jean Minish Stoner in 1999.

Preferred Citation: Jean Minish Stoner 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

Jean Minish Stoner, farm woman, 4-H leader, writer, and community volunteer, was born on a Blackhawk County farm in north central Iowa. Her parents Elva Vorhees and Archie Minish had attended college. Her mother was an accomplished violinist and teacher while her father had a degree in animal science from Iowa State College, now Iowa State University. After marrying, they bought a farm not far from his parents' farm near Hudson, Iowa. Archie Minish raised purebred sheep, showing them as far away as Chicago. Archie and Elva Minish lost that farm during the harsh economic conditions of the 1920s. They moved to northern Minnesota and back in the 1930s as their children were growing up. Eventually, they rented a farm near Mt. Vernon in Linn County, Iowa. There, the lack of money to buy gas kept them from driving to church on Sundays, but they managed to send their daughter, Jean, to high school in Mt. Vernon and then to Cornell College, where she graduated in 1941. Minish had met Virgil Stoner through a church group. They dated for a year and married three days after her graduation from Cornell College.

The Stoners had three sons in the next three years and two more sons by 1952. They bought fifteen acres and farmed the farm of Virgil Stoner's parents. Jean Stoner cared for five children, sold chickens and eggs, canned, helped with field chores, and was active with 4-H. The Stoner farm that began with fifteen acres in 1954 became a corporation with over 5000 acres by 1984. Jean Stoner kept the corporate books, as well as serving in various leadership roles in the church, community, and local schools. After her children left the farm, she became interested in Linn County history, serving as president of Dillon's Furrow, a local historical organization. Perceiving a need, she began a second-hand store in Mt. Vernon in 1990 and volunteered in local schools. Additional biographical details are listed in the Iowa Mother of the Year Portfolio.

The Jean Minish Stoner papers measure 2.5 linear inches and date from 1957 to 1997. The collection is divided into three series: Biographical and family information; Writings; and Scrapbook. The Biographical and family information series contains her reminiscences and those of her sister as well as an award portfolio describing her many activities.

The Writings series includes a complete set of photocopies of Christmas letters from 1957 to1996 and her essays. Stoner's writings about her childhood reflect in clear prose the experience of struggle and loss that many Iowa farmers faced during the 1920s and 1930s, while the Christmas letters describe a prosperous farm family of the second half of the twentieth century.

The Scrapbook series contains photographs and newsclippings photocopied from a family scrapbook.

Browse by Series:
Series 2: WRITINGS

  • Box 1:
  • "Back Then," by Jean Minish Stoner, undated
  • "Early Recollections," by Ruth Minish Meeker, undated
  • Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame - 1991
  • Iowa Mother of the Year portfolio - 1997
  • Series 2: WRITINGS
  • Box 1:
  • Christmas letters - 1957-1996
  • Correspondence - 1958
  • Articles and essays - 1960-1997
  • Series 3: SCRAPBOOK
  • Box 1:
  • Newsclippings (photocopies) - 1984-1993
  • Photographs (photocopies) - 1961