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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Azalia Mitchell papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1911-1988
Creator: Mitchell, Azalia (1898-1986)
Extent: 5.00 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0650
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Mitchell and her husband operated the Community Pharmacy in Des Moines for 25 years.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Box 1.

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. 522) were donated by Ronald Langston in 1998 as part of the Gwendolyn Wilson Fowler papers.

Preferred Citation: Azalia Mitchell 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
Email: lib-women@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa

Azalia Hogan was born on March 15, 1898 in Arkansas. Her mother died when she was three years old and her aunt, Adeline Miller, took Hogan to Atlanta, Georgia to live. Hogan graduated from Atlanta University in 1917 and became a registered pharmacist. On December 25, 1917 Azalia Hogan married James Wardlow Mitchell in Des Moines, Iowa where he was in the Officers Training Corps of the United States Army at Fort Des Moines. Upon graduation from officers training, the couple moved to Camp Dixon, New Jersey. From 1918 to 1919, Azalia Mitchell was active in helping soldiers and their wives while her own husband served in France. Following World War I, the Mitchells returned to Des Moines and purchased the Community Pharmacy, which they operated for twenty-five years. After selling the business, Azalia Mitchell worked for the City of Des Moines Recreation Department and retired as a secretary.

Azalia Mitchell was a member of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was a charter member of the Beta Gamma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Mitchell was also a board member of the Des Moines branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), a lifetime member of the NAACP, a board member of Wilkie House, Inc., a charter member of the Lincoln Post No. 126 Auxiliary of the American Legion, and a charter member of Des Moines Links, Inc.

Mitchell died July 21, 1986.

The Azalia Mitchell papers date from 1911 to 1988 and measure 5 linear inches. The papers are arranged in three series: Personal, Business, and Conservatorship.

The Personal series consists of documents pertaining to Azalia Mitchell's marriage with J.W. Mitchell. Included are financial papers such as loans, bank books and insurance papers. Their 1948 Iowa income tax return is interesting for the itemized schedules attached to it pertaining to their business ventures. Of particular note in their real estate records is the 1950 Quit Claim Deed in which J.W. Mitchell legally gave his wife Azalia Mitchell title to a piece of property "in consideration of the sum of natural love and affection and one and other." The personal papers folder contains the Mitchell's marriage certificate and a Christmas card signed"Jimmie and Azalia." Their marriage certificate is noteworthy for the two dates written on it, 1917 and 1918. The Last Will and Testaments include Mitchell's aunt Adaline Miller's will, as well as Azalia and J.W. Mitchells' wills. Famed attorney and activist Charles P. Howard was a witness for both of the Mitchell's documents. Also included in the Personal series are the death certificates and funeral books for Azalia Mitchell and her husband J.W. Mitchell. There are also sympathy cards and receipts for the sale of Azalia Mitchell's possessions following her death.

The Business series consists of documents relating to Community Pharmacy in Des Moines,and the building the Mitchells rented out after selling the business. Included are contracts and leases, tax and license receipts, financial papers and building repair orders. The contracts and leases include a concession agreement with the Royal Dukes to use a backroom for their meetings. There are also receipts and notes pertaining to a Billy Eckstein concert the Mitchells sponsored. Billy Eckstein was a notable jazzman who toured the United States in the 1940s and 1950s. Apparently the same back room the Royal Dukes rented was sometimes used as a concert and dance hall. Other leases andcontracts concern a Wurlitzer jukebox and a shuffleboard. The financial papers consist of handwritten records of loans written on the backs of envelopes. Included is the list of payments from 1926 to 1940 made to the Des Moines Drug Company for the purchase of Community Pharmacy.

The Conservatorship series consists of bills, correspondence and documents pertaining to the Conservatorship of Azalia Mitchell. Gwendolyn Wilson Fowler, a close personal friend of the Mitchells,served as Azalia Mitchell's conservator during the last several years of Mitchell's life. This series also includes a photograph taken of Azalia Mitchell at the nursing home.
Gwendolyn Wilson Fowler papers (IWA):  This collection includes correspondence and photographs of Azalia Mitchell.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: PERSONAL
Series 2: BUSINESS
Series 3: CONSERVATORSHIP OF AZALIA MITCHELL

  • Series 1: PERSONAL
  • Box 1:
  • Diplomas [very fragile] - 1911, 1917
  • Financial papers - 1940, 1948-1952
  • Funeral and death - 1967-1968, 1978-1980, 1986
  • Funeral book (Azalia Mitchell) - 1986
  • Funeral book (J.W. Mitchell, husband) - 1978
  • Iowa income tax returns - 1948
  • J.W. Mitchells Presidential appointment:Second Lieutenant of Infantry - 1917
  • Last Will and Testaments and estate papers - 1931, 1937, 1978-1979
  • Personal papers - 1917
  • Real estate records - 1936, 1937, 1950
  • Series 2: BUSINESS
  • Box 1:
  • Building repairs - 1954
  • Billy Eckstein concert receipts and notes - 1950
  • Contracts and leases - 1945-1955
  • Financial papers - 1926-1940, 1950-1951
  • Tax and license receipts - 1951, 1979-1980
  • Series 3: CONSERVATORSHIP OF AZALIA MITCHELL
  • Box 1:
  • Conservatorship papers (folder 1) - 1981-1983, 1988
  • Conservatorship papers (folder 2) - 1981-1983, 1988
  • Nursing home care [photograph] - 1982-1986