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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Pierce-Stuart Family papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1927-1989
Creator: Pierce-Stuart Family
Extent: 7.50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0483
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Diaries of Mary Pierce describe family life in Harlan, Iowa from 1927 to 1947; Mary Clark's memoir reflects on medical challenges in the early 1900s.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has not been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 803) were donated by Mary Stuart Clark in 2001.

Preferred Citation: Pierce-Stuart Family 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

Donald Robberts Stuart, contractor, and Helen Kathryn Pierce, schoolteacher, both natives of Harlan, Iowa, were married on August 1, 1916. Pierce was the last to bear the family name in a genealogical line that began in colonial America during the seventeenth century, and spans thirteen generations. The Stuarts lived in Harlan until 1924, when they moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa. In 1926, the family packed up and moved to Omaha, Nebraska. The Stuarts had five children: Mary Ann, Martha Alice, David Orr, Donald Robberts, and Helen Katherine.

Mary Ann Stuart, born in 1918, married Kelley Winston Clark in 1940. Mary Stuart Clark inherited the diaries of her grandmother Mary Catherine Speece Pierce. In addition, Clark´s sister Martha Stuart Helligso documented the family lineage, going back ten generations, in several genealogies.

The Pierce-Stuart Family papers date from 1927 to 1989 and measure 7.5 linear inches. The collection includes a series of diaries written by Mary Catherine Speece Pierce from 1927-1947, which are primarily about Harlan, Iowa. An introduction to the diaries was written by her granddaughter Mary Stuart Clark and consists of a brief biography of Pierce's life. Also included is a letter written by Pierce to her sister-in-law in 1934, charting her life experiences including the trials of traveling by covered wagon. The diaries document Pierce's day-to-day household activities, the weather, and various community events. Included in the diaries are descriptions of her work as a deaconess in the Congregational Church, as well as efforts to establish a library in Harlan. In addition to Pierce's diaries, the collection also contains four Pierce and related genealogies compiled by Martha Stuart Helligso and a memoir written by Mary Stuart Clark which includes accounts of early twentieth century medical crises such as fighting the flu epidemic of 1918 before antibiotics and saving a premature baby before incubators.
Dallner-Peterson Family papers (IWA): The Dallner-Peterson family is associated with the Pierce-Stuart family through the friendship of Mary Stuart Clark and Pauline Dallner.

Browse by Series:

  • Box 1:
  • Biographical sketch by Mary Stuart Clark
  • Diaries (4 folders) - 1927-1938
  • Diaries - 1931-1933
  • Diaries - 1938-1941
  • Diaries - 1942-1947
  • Box 2:
  • Captain Michael Pierce, Including One Line of Descent - 1981
  • A Tale of John Mason, Including One Line of Descent - 1982
  • George Mason, Including One Line of Descent - 1983
  • John Deming of Wethersfield, Connecticut, Including One Line of Descent - 1985
  • "Who Am I, Anyway?" by Mary Stuart Clark - 1989