Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Zella White Stewart papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1917-1943
Creator: Stewart, Zella White (1878-1943)
Extent: 3.50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0683
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Allergist who practiced in Iowa City from 1910 to 1938.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright has not been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 250) were transferred from the University of Iowa Archives.

Preferred Citation: Zella White Stewart 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

Dr. Zella White Stewart, an allergist, was born in St. Johns, New Brunswick, Canada, on January 9, 1878. She received her medical degree from Cornell University in 1903. In 1904, she married George Walter Stewart, a physicist. They had one son, Rodney, and also raised two nephews, Paul and LymanWhite. The Stewarts also helped at least two other relatives, their nieces Mary and Betty White, through college. Stewart died at her home on August 4, 1943 after several months of ill health.

During her life, Zella White Stewart participated actively in both professional and social endeavors. She practiced medicine in Grand Forks, North Dakota, from 1904until 1910 and in Iowa City, Iowa, from 1910 until 1938. For the last twenty years of her career, she specialized in the study and treatment of allergies. Stewart authored many professional papers in this field and was a member of both the American Association for the Study of Allergies and the International Correspondence Club for the Study of Allergy. She also founded a chapter of the League of Women Voters in Iowa City and was a charter member of the Business and Professional Women's Club, the Iowa City Women's Club and the University Club. In addition, her husband's position as head of the University of Iowa's physics department involved Stewart in the university community. The Stewart home was used for several years "as an international house for university students of all nationalities.

The Zella White Stewart papers date from 1917 to 1927 and measure 3.5 linear inches. The papers are arranged in two series: Biographical materials and Correspondence. The collection would be of use to anyone interested in the study of allergies in the early twentieth century, the professional and domestic life of a female physician, or the biography of Zella White Stewart.

The Biographical materials series (1943 and undated) consists of one folder containing copies of two obituaries and a family tree.

The Correspondence series (1917-1927 and undated) comprises the rest of this collection. Zella White Stewart's papers contain a mix of professional and personal correspondence. Following the original order of Stewart's files, the series is arranged alphabetically by the writer's name or by the name of the organization he/she represents. Within an alphabetical grouping, letters are filed chronologically. When a series of letters by the same writer exists, they have been grouped together. Some letters are accompanied by a carbon copy of Stewart's reply.

Stewart's professional papers include correspondence with other doctors in the field of allergy research, business transactions with pharmaceutical companies, correspondence with patients, and a series of letters and bills connected to a dispute with a collection agency hired byS tewart.

Stewart's correspondence also offers insight into the status of women professionals. In fact, she specifically documents her attitude towards combining career and family in a letter written in response to a survey by The Woman Citizen. Both the original query and a rough draft of Stewart's response are located in the W-Z folder.

Stewart's personal letters range in content. Subjects covered include the failing health of her mother and an arrangement for two of her nieces to live with her and attend the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). There are also a number of letters relating to other issues including the establishment of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority house, hiring domestic help, the management of apartments rented from the Stewarts and scattered references to the League of Women Voters.

A Biographical Portrait of Zella White Stewart, M.D., written by her husband George Walter Stewart, is shelved in the printed works collection of the Iowa Women's Archives.
League of Women Voters of Johnson County records (IWA): Zella White Stewart was the founder of the League of Women Voters in Iowa City. However, her correspondence contains only scattered references to it--primarily in regard to a national meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.
Additional Zella White Stewart papers are held at the Johnson County Historical Society, Coralville, Iowa.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
Series 2: CORRESPONDENCE

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 1:
  • General - 1943
  • Series 2: CORRESPONDENCE
  • Box 1:
  • A-B - 1917, 1923-1927
  • C-G - 1923, 1925-1927
  • H-L - 1924-1927
  • M-R - 1924-1927
  • S-V [includes Alice Stone Blackwell letter] - 1920-1927
  • W-Z - 1923-1927