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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Ora Delmer Foster Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1895-1965
Creator: Foster, Ora Delmer (1877-1965)
Extent: 24.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0211
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Congregational minister, lecturer, and professor. Subject files, literary manuscripts, diaries, photographs, and books relating to Foster's life and career.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Boxes 32 and 36; glass slides in Boxes 34 and 37; dictaphone discs in Box 33.

Access: This collection is open for research.

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

Acquisition: The Ora Delmer Foster papers were given to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1958.

Preferred Citation: Ora Delmer Foster 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

A Congregational minister, Ora Delmer Foster (1877 -- 1965) graduated from Manchester College in Indiana. He received his B.D. and A.M degrees at Oberlin and his Ph.D. at Yale. Toward the end of World War I, he organized and directed the Comrades in Service Movement. This was an interfaith project that included all of the welfare agencies along with officers and soldiers. Dr. Foster was for many years the university secretary of the Council of Church Boards of Education. In 1922, at the Conference of Church Workers in Universities, he presented a paper proposing the idea of a School of Religion as a part of a tax-supported university. His idea was picked up by Iowa officials attending the meeting, and the University of Iowa's School of Religion was born. Dr. Foster was a guest professor there in the 1940s. He was a promoter of interfaith and church-state understanding and cooperation. His life's work was in the field of inter-cultural relations. A wide traveler and unofficial ambassador of goodwill, he spent many years working and studying in Mexico and South America. Dr. O. Delmer Foster died in Claremont, California, at the age of eighty-seven.

The papers of Ora Delmer Foster date from 1895 to 1965 and document his life and career. Autobiographical materials, memoirs, and diaries give insights into Foster's private life. His correspondence (both personal and professional) which spans seventy years is contained in five boxes. Many of his writings, especially those on Mexico and South America as well as those concerning religious issues, are included in manuscript form, with typescript drafts and notes.

Religion courses that he taught at the University of Iowa are documented in the papers with lectures, notes, research, and memoirs. Iowa's School of Religion is the subject of one entire box. Information regarding Dr. Foster's work with Comrades in Service, the American Association on Religion, and the North American Board for the Study of Religion in Higher Education is included as well. There are also boxes of photographs, books and pamphlets relating to Latin America, and slides.
Correspondence with Henry Agard Wallace is in Wallace's collection, MsC 177.

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