Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Lois Baker Muehl papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1952-2006
Creator: Muehl, Lois Baker (1920-2013)
Extent: 2.10 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0470
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: University of Iowa rhetoric professor who published children's books and taught English as a second language at refugee camps in Thailand, Korea, and China.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in box 5.

Arrangement: Three works have been transferred to the Iowa Women's Archives printed works collection: Trading Cultures in the Classroom , 1993; The Hidden Year of Devlin Bates , 1967; Worst Room in the School , 1961.

Access: The papers are open for research. Prior to January 1, 2060, researchers may not cite any actual names from the Chinese Diaries and other items directly relating to the diaries.

Use: Copyright has been retained by the donor until her death, at which point copyright will be transferred to the University of Iowa. While Lois Baker Muehl is living, permission to quote from her papers for publication must be obtained from the donor. Researchers wishing to use the Chinese Diaries must first sign the "Conditions of Access" form.

Acquisition: The Lois Baker Muehl papers (donor no. 709) were donated by Lois Baker Muehl in 2000 and subsequent years.

Preferred Citation: Lois Baker Muehl 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

Lois Baker Muehl, educator and writer, was born on April 29, 1920 in Oak Park, Illinois. She received her BA in English in 1941 from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. On April 15, 1944, she married Siegmar Muehl. The couple had four children, Erika, Sigrid, Torsten, and Brian.

Muehl earned an MA in English Education from the University of Iowa in 1967. In the late 1960s, she took two years off from her position as a rhetoric professor at the University of Iowa to teach in a program for African American college students in Charlotte, North Carolina. A rich part of Lois Muehl's professional life included her experiences teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in refugee camps in Thailand; Kyungnam University, Korea; Hohai University in Nanjing, China; and in Merced, California.

A freelance writer, Lois Baker Muehl published numerous poems along with articles, and children's books, of which one was a Junior Literary Guild selection and another was on the New York Times' "100 Best" list. Her poetry and light verse appeared in such publications as Capper's , Country Woman , Midwest Poetry Review, and The Saturday Evening Post , as well as in the books If We'd Wanted Quiet We Would Have Raised Goldfish , and More Phonics Through Poetry . Muehl also published academic articles and a textbook/reader for college level rhetoric students. In collaboration with her husband, she wrote Trading Cultures in the Classroom , focusing on the couple's experiences teaching English as a Second Language in China prior to the Tienanmen Square incident of 1989.

Lois Baker Muehl retired from her position as associate professor of rhetoric and director of the Developmental Reading Lab at the University of Iowa in June 1985. During her retirement, she continued to write and publish children's work, short stories, poetry, essays, and non-fiction. She remained active in several writing clubs and organizations, including the American Pen Women and the University Club Writers. Lois Baker Muehl died in 2013.

The Lois Baker Muehl papers date from 1952 to 2000 and measure 2.1 linear feet.  The papers are arranged in six series: Biographical, China, Professional, Unpublished Works, Published Works, and Photographs and Slides.
The Biography series contains several newspaper articles about the life and career of Lois Baker Muehl, personal letters, and speeches.  Also included in this series are the various awards Muehl won for her writing and an interview with Muehl excerpted from Iowa: A Place to Read , published by the Iowa Reading Association in 1990.  The complete volume, Iowa: A Place to Read , is shelved in the printed works collection of the Iowa Women's Archives.
The China series contains information and records from Lois Muehl's trip to China as a visiting professor teaching English to post-doctorate students at Hohai University.  Included is a copy of her contract with Hohai University and articles and information that Muehl collected in preparation for her trip to China.  This series also contains the diaries and journals she kept while in China.  These diaries are the basis for her published work, Trading Cultures in the Classroom , co-authored by her husband, Siegmar Muehl.
The Professional series contains papers from Lois Baker Muehl's career as a professor of rhetoric at the University of Iowa.  Included in this series is a copy of the text she wrote, A Reading Approach to Rhetoric , which contains extensive margin notes from Muehl.  Also included is material from various exhibits presented by Lois Baker Muehl at the Iowa Memorial Union, materials she prepared for the Iowa Testing Program, and papers pertaining to her work at the Developmental Reading Center at the University of Iowa.
The Unpublished Works series contains items separated by genre (children's literature, poetry, essay, etc.) and then organized alphabetically.  This series is primarily comprised of stories for children, but also includes short stories, essays, and non-fiction.
The Published Works series is divided by genre (poetry, essay, academic, etc.) and organized alphabetically.  Included in this series are copies of the publications in which Lois Baker Muehl's writing was published, as well as separate drafts of published works.  This series also contains manuscripts of Muehl's published books.  Three works have been transferred to the Iowa Women's Archives printed works collection: Trading Cultures in the Classroom , 1993; The Hidden Year of Devlin Bates , 1967; Worst Room in the School , 1961.
The Photographs and Slides cover both professional and personal aspects of Lois Baker Muehl's life.  Many of the photographs are of rugs, embroidered wall-hangings and quilts that Muehl made for her family.  Others are of various art and craft projects, including driftwood sculptures, shadow boxes, and designs created from antique buttons.  The slides are mostly from and exhibit that Lois Muehl put together for display in the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus in 1980.

Browse by Series:
Series 2: CHINA
Series 6: Photographs and Slides

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 1:
  • Awards
  • "For MHB: A Remembrance" (biographical sketch of Lois Baker Muehl's mother) - 1978
  • Interview in "Iowa: A Place to Read" published by the Iowa Reading Association - 1990
  • Letters from Hoover Elementary School Students - 1989
  • Miscellaneous: resumes, Iowa Poetry Association, etc.
  • News articles
  • Personal letters
  • Speeches
  • Writing Assignments with comments of Vance Bourjaily
  • Series 2: CHINA
  • Box 1:
  • China diaries - 1987-1988
  • Hohai University Contract - 1987
  • Preparation notes, map, news articles
  • "Trading Cultures in the Classroom": Notes, correspondence, and publishing materials - 1993
  • Series 3: PROFESSIONAL
  • Box 1:
  • "A Reading Approach to Rhetoric" (with margin notes) - 1983
  • Correspondence
  • Developmental Reading Center Resources
  • Materials for classes
  • Materials for Iowa Testing Program - 1987
  • Student and instructor responses to "A Reading Approach to Rhetoric"
  • Material relating to Ruth Suckow article - 1969-1971
  • Box 2:
  • Telling Ways: A Visual Essay" (2 folders) - 1980
  • Sub-Series: Childrens Literature
  • Box 2:
  • "A Gift from Pumpkin
  • "A Gift of Rocks - 1972
  • "B is for Black and Beautiful - 1968
  • "Bedtime for Jared, written 1983 - 1990
  • "The Blakes and the Poetry Bug
  • "Chadwick and His Chum
  • "Doctor Deer - 1991
  • "Dumb Bell Strikes Again - 1987
  • "Goofy Rhymes on a Very Strange Day - 1993
  • "Grandma Imps Possible Tales
  • "Green is for Go - 1961
  • "I Have Yet to See a Yeti - 1992
  • "If I Had a Tail
  • The Incredible Adventures of the Child Who Grew Curious About the Land of Upside Down" - 1952
  • "Kitten Counting Calendar - 1968
  • "Listen, My Darling - 1986
  • "The Little Donkey of Long Ago - 1997
  • "Mark Wells Two-Way Sign Collection - 1987
  • "My Big Word Book
  • My Nicest Rainy Day," written 1974 - 1991
  • "Questions from A-Z
  • Box 3:
  • "Sandy, Lapful, and Gooseberry - 1974
  • "Scaredy Kit
  • "The Secret of Dark Street, written 1976 - 1987
  • "Sink or Swim - 1983
  • "Sleuths at Home - 1990
  • Speech Therapy Stories
  • "Stair Step Reading," revised - 1993
  • Street Cat"
  • "Things to Do- From Abacus to Zoo
  • "13 Curious Questions
  • "The Tooth the Fairies Took
  • "Tree-mendous Jokes, Riddles, and Puzzles
  • "Two Who Won - 1974
  • "Tyson and the Tornado - 1986
  • "What's the Last Word - 1984
  • "Wonderful Wiggle Words - 1979
  • Sub-Series: Educational
  • Box 3:
  • English Homonym Practice"
  • Sub-Series: Essays
  • Box 3:
  • "After Tienanmen Square
  • "Lessons from a Broken Bone
  • Mississippi comes to Iowa: Reaching out for Civil Rights in the Sixties" - 2006
  • Sub-Series: Memoir
  • Box 3:
  • "The Octopus Dilemma
  • Sub-Series: Stories stories
  • Box 3:
  • Experience With a Library Book"
  • "The Lost Discord
  • "The True Story of Iowa City - 1994
  • Series 5: PUBLISHED WORK
  • Sub-Series: Manuscripts
  • Box 3:
  • "The Hidden Year of Devlin Bates"
  • "Trading Cultures in the Classroom" (2 folders)
  • Box 4:
  • "Trading Cultures in the Classroom"
  • Sub-Series: Children's literature
  • Box 4:
  • "Cat Play on a Rainy Day published in "Lady Bug" - 1996
  • Jack Spratt Parody, published in "The New Adventures of Mother Goose" by Bruce Lansky - 1993
  • "Talkable Tales: Read-a-Rebus Stories" - 1993
  • Sub-Series: Essays
  • Box 4:
  • "Could a Horse Say Moo? published in "Home Life" - 1963
  • "Darks and Lights of Peruvian Amazon published in "The Nature Conservancy" - 1996
  • "Epitaph for Big Pink published in "Iowa Alumni Review" - 1970
  • "Let's Get Off the Harried-Go-Round published in "Family Circle" - 1965
  • "Losing Weight the Easy Way published in "Lifetimes" - 1995
  • "Our Troubles With Twins published in "Home Life" - 1964
  • "Pleasing the Playpen Crowd published in "Everywomans" - 1955
  • Sub-Series: Newspaper articles
  • Box 4:
  • "Another Perspective on the Flu - 1978
  • "Korean Street Scenes - 1985
  • Miscellaneous
  • Sub-Series: Poetry
  • Box 4:
  • "Absence" published in "Gallery of Artistry" - 1997
  • "Power Mail published in "The Pen Woman" - 1998
  • Various poems published in "100 Words" - 1995-1998
  • Box 5:
  • Various poems published in "Entrez Nous" - 1999-2000
  • Various poems published in "If Wed Wanted Quiet, We Would Have Raised Goldfish" - 1994
  • "Winter's String of Perils published in "Lyrical Iowa" - 1995
  • Sub-Series: Quips and Light Verse
  • Box 5:
  • Published in "Country Woman" - 1990
  • Published in "Mature Living" - 1999
  • Various quips published in "Readers Digest" - 1989, 1994, 1996
  • Various quips published in "Saturday Evening Post" - 1997, 1999
  • Miscellaneous
  • Sub-Series: Short stories
  • Box 5:
  • "The Listening Touch published in "Coronet" - 1956
  • "Out of the Past published in "House Beautiful" - 1962
  • "Shopping With Zorro published in "Iowa City Magazine" - 1996
  • Sub-Series: Book Reviews
  • Box 5:
  • Review of "Do Lord Remember Me" published in "The Educational Forum" - 1985
  • Review of "Millies Choice" published in "The Pen Woman" - 1998
  • Sub-Series: Play
  • Box 5:
  • One Very Happy Family - 1964
  • Sub-Series: Scholarly Articles
  • Box 5:
  • "A College Level Compensatory Program for Educationally Disadvantaged Black Students: Interim Findings and Reflections" published in "The Journal of Negro Education" - 1972
  • "Comparison of Differences in Dialect and Speech Among Black College Students Grouped by Standard English Test Performance" published in "Language and Speech" - 1976
  • "One Way to Extract the Square Root of Opera published in "The Journal of Negro Education" - 1970
  • "Faulkner's Humor in Three Novels and One Play published in "The Library Chronicle" - 1968
  • "Word Choice and Choice Words in Faulkners Satoris published "The Library Chronicle" - 1969
  • "Form as seen in Two Early Works by Faulkner published in "The Library Chronicle" - 1972
  • "Ruth Suckows Art of Fiction published in "Books at Iowa" - 1970
  • Sub-Series: Self Published
  • Box 5:
  • Inner Paths (with Krista Van Engelen) - 2000
  • Series 6: Photographs and Slides
  • Box 5:
  • Iowa Memorial Union Exhibit slides - 1980
  • Miscellaneous slides
  • Photographs