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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Margaret Wilbourn Gerber papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1923-2003
Creator: Gerber, Margaret Wilbourn (1913-1996)
Extent: 1.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0520
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Clubwoman and activist who lived in Chicago, Albany, New York, and Iowa City.

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. 903) were donated by Anne G. Sakaguchi and Barbara G. Barrett in 2003.

Preferred Citation: Margaret Wilbourn Gerber 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

Margaret Wilbourn Gerber, clubwoman and activist, was born in Morgantown, West Virginia, in 1913 to Russell and Elizabeth Wilbourn. She attended Morgantown High School, graduating in 1930. Wilbourn earned her BA from the University of West Virginia in 1934 and her MA in personnel administration from Columbia University in 1935. She began teaching at Alderson-Broaddus College in West Virginia in 1935, and accepted a position as director of personnel and sociology professor at Judson College in Alabama in 1936. In 1940, Wilbourn moved to Chicago, where she worked for the Metropolitan YMCA. There, she met John C. Gerber, an English professor whom she married in 1941.

In 1944, the Gerbers moved to Iowa City, Iowa. In 1976, they moved to Albany, New York, but they returned to Iowa City in 1984. There, Gerber raised two daughters, Anne and Barbara. John Gerber, after whom the Gerber Lounge in the University of Iowa's English-Philosophy Building is named, was hired as an English professor at the University of Iowa. Margaret Gerber was a member in several local clubs, including the Raphael Club, the Nineteenth Century Club, the Hiking Club, the Dancing Club, and Mortar Board Alumnae. A one-time president of the Johnson County Democratic Women's Club, Gerber attended the inaugural festivities for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and for Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Gerber's community work included helping to organize the Friends of the University of Iowa Museum of Art and acting as chairman of the museum's Women's Membership Committee. She was an early member of the Iowa division of the American Association for the United Nations (later called the United Nations Association of the USA), and pioneered the sale of UNICEF cards in Iowa City in the 1950s. Gerber hosted Eleanor Roosevelt in her home during Roosevelt's visit to Iowa City in 1957. Gerber passed away in Iowa City in 1996.

The Margaret Wilbourn Gerber papers date from 1923 to 2003 and measure 1.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in three series: Biographical, Clubs and Community Involvement, and Photographs.

The Biographical series (1934-2003) contains information pertaining to Gerber's personal life, education, and career. These materials include diplomas, Gerber's passports, obituaries, and class notes, as well as clippings and correspondence related to Gerber's job searches and career at Judson College. Gerber's desk calendars, which she kept over a period of 35 years, can also be found in the series, along with materials detailing her friendship with Iowa City artist Eleanor Simmons. Her school work includes a paper she wrote on contemporary schools of psychology in 1934 during her time at Columbia University. Newspaper clippings concerning Gerber's engagement and marriage, her work in the community, and Eleanor Roosevelt's 1957 visit to Iowa City complete the series.

Materials in the Clubs and Community Involvement series (1932-1986) include club programs, newspaper clippings, and a book of minutes detailing the dissolution of the Iowa City Investment Study Club. Also included are several papers that Gerber presented at Nineteenth Century Club and Raphael Club meetings. The topics of these papers range from American sculpture to the drinking of tea. A sign-in book from the 1986 ceremony honoring Gerber for her work with UNICEF may also be found in the series. Materials from presidential inauguration ceremonies include newspaper clippings, a ticket to the ceremony for Lyndon B. Johnson, and a program for the Carter inaugural festivities.

The Photographs series (1923-1995) is composed of color snapshots of Gerber and her family and friends, many of which are labeled and dated. These snapshots include portraits of Gerber and group photographs from various parties and gatherings.

Browse by Series:

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 1:
  • Biographical information - 1934-2003
  • Career correspondence - 1936-1944
  • Christmas card lists - 1962-1979
  • Desk calendars (folder 1) - 1953-1969
  • Desk calendars (folder 2) - 1953-1969
  • Desk calendars (folder 3) - 1953-1969
  • Desk calendars (folder 4) - 1953-1969
  • Desk calendars (folder 5) - 1953-1969
  • Box 2:
  • Desk calendars (folder 1) - 1971-1990
  • Desk calendars (folder 2) - 1971-1990
  • Desk calendars (folder 3) - 1971-1990
  • Desk calendars (folder 4) - 1971-1990
  • Desk calendars (folder 5) - 1971-1990
  • Desk calendars (folder 6) - 1971-1990
  • Diplomas and certificates - 1931, 1935, 1963
    [shelved in map case]
  • Simmons, Eleanor - 1966-1985
  • Box 3:
  • Judson College, - 1940
  • School work - 1934-1935
  • Tax forms - 1940-1944
  • Newspaper clippings - 1941-1986
  • Miscellaneous - 1948-1949, 1970-1971
  • Box 3:
  • American Association for the United Nations and UNICEF - 1964 and 1986
  • Iowa City Investment Study Club minutes - 1961-1963
  • Presidential inaugurations - 1965 and 1977
  • Mortar Board - 1947-1954
  • Nineteenth Century Club study programs - 1958-1959 and 1961-1966
  • Box 4:
  • Raphael Club study programs, - 1946-1949 and 1961-1967
  • Papers for Nineteenth Century and Raphael Clubs - 1951, 1956, 1963
  • Miscellaneous organizations - 1932, 1948, 1966
  • Series 3: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 4:
  • Friends - 1949-1991
  • Group photographs - 1985-1987
  • Portraits - 1923-1995