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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Ivory Winston papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1936-2010
Creator: Winston, Ivory (1911-1936)
Extent: .25 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0883
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Concert vocalist and Ottumwa housewife.

Alternate Extent Statement: One folder in map case.

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. 1018) were donated by Byron H. Winston in 2006.

Preferred Citation: Ivory Winston 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

Ivory Green was born in 1911 to Effie and Reverend E.P. Green, and raised in a strict Baptist family. An only child, Green moved frequently from one pastorate to another and during her teen years studied to become a concert pianist. As a Baptist-raised musician, church offered the foundation for Green's musical development and friends and family encouraged her to develop her natural talent for singing. She came to Ottumwa when her father was appointed pastor of the Second Baptist Church and studied music at Drake University and languages (German, Italian, French, Spanish and Hebrew) at Ottumwa Heights College to aid her singing. In 1936, she married Clyde Melvin Winston, a worker at the John Morrell plant. Clyde Winston was the grandson of William James Winston, a former slave from Virginia who came to Iowa in 1890 and purchased five acres of farm land to raise hogs. Clyde Winston's father Julian Oscar Winston, later purchased 120 acres and opened the Willow Spring Dairy. Clyde Winston's family attended the Second Baptist Church, where he and Ivory Green likely met. During Ivory Winston's singing career, Clyde Winston served as her manager and publicity agent. The couple raised two children, Berta Lou, born in 1937, and Byron, born in 1938. As a mother and housewife, Winston had little time for piano practice, but was able to sing while doing housework, allowing her to continue vocal training. She gave her first vocal recital in 1946 and in less than a year had given thirty performances throughout Iowa. A coloratura soprano, she sang for tens of thousands of Iowans over her career. In 1948 Winston sang for President Harry Truman on his birthday during a campaign stop, and led the crowd of 20,000 in a rendition of 'Happy Birthday' for the President. In 1950 Winston beat 3,000 other performers for top ranking in the Des Moines Registers and Tribune Cavalcade of Music festival. Later that year she performed an original composition at the state Republican convention. Other career highlights include a victory in the Meredith Wilson's Iowa Greater Talent Search and a national radio performance. Winston was billed as 'Iowa's First Lady of Song' and called the Midwest's foremost coloratura, yet despite her professional success, the family encountered racial prejudice, when they attempted to move to a new neighborhood in Ottumwa a neighbor circulated a petition to bar them (the petition went unsigned and they moved in). Winston raised musical children, and during local performances would be joined by Berta Lou on violin and Byron on cello (Berta Lou would go on to sit first chair violin in the University of Iowa orchestra in the late 1950s). Winston died in 1996 at the age of 84.

The Ivory Winston papers date from 1936 to 2010 and contains of three newspaper articles concerning Winston's career, two programs and a print advertisement, two photographs (one candid of Winston holding a bouquet, the other of a posed Winston and other women in formal wear, and an article on the Winston family history in Ottumwa.  An oversized poster housed in the map case features a photo of Winston, with a caption from the Ottumwa Daily Courier describing how ''Senator Alben Barkley of Paducah, Kentucky, candidate for vice president, brushed a nostalgic tear from his eye as he shook hands with Mrs. Clyde Winston for her singing of 'My Old Kentucky Home'.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 1:
  • General - 1936-2010