Guide to the Dorothy Misbach papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1890-1999
Creator: Misbach, Dorothy (1910-1999)
Extent: 3.30 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0468
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Educator whose lifelong career of working with partially seeing and blind students began in 1938 at the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachussetts.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: 2 CDs [d0031]
Photographs throughout the collection.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donors have been transferred in part to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers were donated by Ila Misbach Morse Smith and Mildred Posey (donor no. 693) in 2000; and Shirley Misbach Buswell (donor no. 707) in 2000; Alice Atkinson (donor no. 954) in 2006; and Shami Morse (donor no. 707) in 2006.

Preferred Citation: Dorothy Misbach 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

Biographical Note

Educator, traveler, and philanthropist Dorothy Misbach was born in Sumner Township, Iowa in 1910 to Jesse Davis Misbach and Emelia Sophie Wiese Misbach. Dorothy Misbach attended East Sumner Township No. 5 from grades one through eight. In high school Misbach took courses toward a teaching credential and graduated from Williamsburg High School in 1929. Upon graduating in 1933 from the Iowa State Teachers College she received her bachelor degree in education from Boston University in 1943 and her masters in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1947. She continued her graduate work at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee, the University of Maine, the University of Washington, and Harvard University in connection with Perkins School for the Blind, in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Misbach began her teaching career in the one-room schoolhouse she had once attended. After two years she began her work with partially seeing students at the Perkins School for the Blind. Misbach also taught at the Cleveland Public Schools, and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, Iowa and was both teacher and principle of the California School for the Blind. In addition to teaching Misbach was an educational counselor at the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and worked as a consultant at the California State Department of Education in Sacramento for twenty years. The California State Legislature presented Misbach with a certificate of commendation when she retired in 1975.

Content Description

The Dorothy Misbach papers date from 1890 to 1999 and measure 3.3 linear feet. The papers are arranged in twelve series: Biographical information, Medical, Family history, Educational, Professional, Charitable activities, Travels, Publications, Perkins School for the Blind, Correspondence, Financial, and Artifacts.

The Biographical Information series (1910-1999) consists of papers, newspaper clippings and photographs that extend from Dorothy Misbach's birth to death with her baby book, obituary and funeral arrangements, her living will and estate planning. Misbach's stay in the assisted living program at Dominican Oaks completes this series.

The Medical series (1962-1998) is comprised of Misbach's insurance records regarding treatment for a brain tumor and glaucoma. Included are vaccination certificates and assessments through the Geriatrics Assessment Clinic.

An extensive Misbach genealogy is documented in the Family History series (1890-1997). Included are a diary by Grandmother Emelia Wiese Misbach and recollections of family reunions and anniversaries. Extensive Misbach and Wiese family histories are documented in published books and manuscripts. Photographs include portraits dating from an 1890 family portrait, cabinet and candid photographs and a collection of yearly school portraits through 1997. Audiovsiual recordings that contain conversations of the seven Misbach siblings sharing childhood memories complete the series.

The Educational series (1922-1979) consists of educational certificates, diplomas, transcripts and correspondence with institutions.

Misbach's extensive work as a teacher for children who were partially seeing and blind is recorded in the Professional series (1934-1996). The papers consist of a resume and job description, professional correspondence and work evaluations.

A collection of articles and books dealing with children who are seeing impaired make up the Publications series (1953-1970).

The Perkins School for the Blind series (1938-1970) consists of papers and photographs of the institution. The photographs depict students in the classroom and at play, as well as staff members and the school grounds.

The Charitable Activities series (1988-1998) sheds light on Misbach's charitable giving. The papers are comprised of pamphlets, correspondence with organizations, and deposited checks. Misbach sponsored Dunhill Latoy, a Philippino boy, through the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. Letters written by Dunhill to his sponsor add a personal touch to the progress reports written by caseworkers.

Misbach's extensive travels through Europe and the United States are documented in the Travels series (1955-1987). The series consists of travel logs, itineraries and photographs with notes written on the back of most images.

The Correspondence series (1911-1999) is comprised of letters and cards exchanged between Misbach and her family and friends. Included are letters detailing reunions and travel experiences, in depth year end summaries, and birth, wedding, and death announcements.

The Financial series (1942-1996) consists of income tax returns between 1987 and 1996, life insurance, social security and retirement records.

The Artifacts series contains three Braille instruments.

Related Materials

Wanda Misbach Edgerton papers (IWA):  Wanda Misbach Edgerton was Dorothy Misbach's sister.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Browse by Series:


This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Misbach, Dorothy, 1910-1999

Corporate Names:
Perkins School for the Blind

20th century

Voyages and travels
Women in education
Women in charitable work
Blind students
Family life

High school students
College students
Teachers of the blind

Geographic Names:
United States -- Iowa -- Bremer County
United States -- Massachusetts -- Watertown

Genre/Form of Materials:
Personal papers
Cultural artifacts
Video recordings

Teachers and Teaching