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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Fred Dickinson Letts Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1841-1965
Creator: Letts, Fred Dickinson (1875-1965)
Extent: 3.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0072
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Attorney, Congressman, and judge. Correspondence, family and personal records, with court decisions and speeches.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs: Box 1

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


Preferred Citation: Fred Dickinson Letts Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Fred Dickinson Letts was born near Ainsworth, Iowa, on April 26, 1875. He graduated from Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa in 1897. In 1899, he graduated from the law department of the University of Iowa. After passing the bar exam, Letts began his law practice in Davenport, Iowa. In 1911, Fred Dickinson Letts was appointed judge of the Seventh Judicial District of Iowa where he served until December of 1912. In 1914, he was appointed to the same position, this time remaining there until he was elected to Congress in 1925. A Republican, he spent three terms in the US House of Representatives. President Herbert Hoover appointed Letts an associate justice of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in 1931. He remained there until his retirement thirty years later. Fred Dickinson Letts died on January 19, 1965.

The papers of Fred Dickinson Letts consist of three feet of manuscripts arranged in a rough chronological sequence dating from 1841 to 1965. The collection begins with family papers (1841-960), such as deeds, mortgages, and photographs. Correspondence (1899 -1961) is included from each phase of his career as an attorney, congressman, and judge with letters from Lester Jesse Dickinson, T. Henry Foster, John Hammill, James W. Bollinger, Harrison E. Spangler, Merritt C. Speidel, and Dan W. Turner. The remainder of the collection consists of Letts' speeches, court decisions, clippings, and six scrapbooks.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Photographs, - 1864-1960
  • Family papers - 1841-1910
  • Parsons College and University of Iowa -- Alumni correspondence and miscellaneous items, including letters from T. Henry Foster - 1897-1959
  • Correspondence: early career and Iowa District Court Judgeship, including letters from N.E. Kendell, T. Henry Foster, Robert G. Cousins, L.J. Dickinson, E.T. Meredith, C.W. Ramseyer, W.F. Knopp, and John Hammill - 1899-1925
  • Box 2:
  • Correspondence. Congress, including letters from John Hammill, Joe R. Lane, Albert F. Dawson, and Harrison E. Spangler - 1925-1930
  • Scrapbook. Clippings from Congress - 1928-1930
  • Speeches, decisions and anecdotes
  • Clippings - 1924-1961
  • Correspondence: Justice, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, including letters from James W. Bollinger, L. J. Dickinson, William F. Riley, Merritt C. Speidel, Philip D. Adler, Earl Hall, and Fred Schwengel - 1931-1961
  • Miscellaneous publications - 1943-1953
  • Biographies, obituaries and memories - 1959-1965
  • Box 3:
  • Scrapbooks (6). Scrapbook no. 4 includes letters from E.P. adler, James W. Bollinger, T. Henry Foster, Harrison E. Spanger, Merritt C. Speidel, and Dan W. Turner
  • Box 4:
  • Caricature of Judge Letts by Ralph Patterson

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Corporate Names:
Republican Party (Iowa)

20th century

District courts


Geographic Names:
United States -- Iowa

Genre/Form of Materials:
Clippings (Information artifacts)