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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Grace Ferns papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1987-2002
Creator: Ferns, Grace (1909- )
Extent: .50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0608
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Memoir and oral history transcript of a rural Iowa school teacher.

Arrangement: One folder, shelved in SCVF.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 867) were donated by Grace Ferns in 2002.

Preferred Citation: Grace Ferns 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

Grace Helen Johnson was born April 27, 1909 near Cambridge, Illinois and moved with her family to Washington County, Iowa in 1911. After attending a one-room school in Franklin Township, Johnson attended Washington High School. In her junior and senior years she took the Normal School training courses, graduating in 1927. That fall she began her long teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse near the former villages of Titus and Grace Hill, near Washington, Iowa.

In 1928, Johnson married Lloyd Ferns. For the next fifteen years she taught in four rural schools: Pleasant in Franklin Township, Oregon No. 3 in Oregon Township, Havre in Washington Township, and New Haven in Dutch Crick Township. During the summers, Ferns attended Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, Iowa, (now called the University of Northern Iowa). Ferns received her two-year degree from that institution in 1948, followed by a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951. She earned a Master of Arts Degree in education from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa in 1955. Ferns continued her education with graduate courses at both the University of Iowa and Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Ferns taught seventh and eighth grade students in the Keota school system from 1944 to 1950, when she was hired by Superintendent of Schools Frank Snyder of Johnson County. Ferns held the position of Rural School Supervisor for Johnson County for sixteen years, supervising over ninety teachers. From 1967 to 1973, she was the elementary school principal in North Liberty, Iowa. Upon her retirement in 1974, Ferns volunteered at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City. She also helped organize the Iowa City chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma and the Johnson County Retired School Personnel Association.

The Grace Ferns papers date from 1987 to 2002 and measure 0.5 linear inches. The papers consist of a resume of Ferns' professional work experience, affiliations, honors and awards; a memoir she wrote about one-room rural schools; the transcript of a 2002 interview taken by Jan Losby for the Johnson County Historical Society; and a 2001 newspaper article celebrating Ferns' experiences as a rural Iowa school teacher.

Browse by Series:

  • Series 1: GRACE FERNS
  • Box 1:
  • Resume - 1987
  • One-room Rural School Memories and Anecdotes by Grace Ferns, undated
  • Oral history transcript - 2002
  • Newspaper article - 2001