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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the B.H. Shearer Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1901-1969
Creator: Shearer, B.H. (1881-1970)
Extent: 4.25 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0242
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Newspaperman in Columbus Junction, Iowa. Journals, correspondence, business records, and subject files relating to his life and career as the editor and publisher of the Columbus Gazette and as the publisher of the Iowa Union Farmer. Subject files include topics ranging from the Iowa Union Farmer to the Louisa County Fair.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs: Box 9

Access: This collection is open for research.

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

Acquisition: The B.H. Shearer Papers were given to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1971 by Shearer's sons, Paul, William, and Woodrow.

Preferred Citation: B.H. Shearer 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

Brainard Hayes Shearer (1881-1970) was born and raised in Ida Grove, Iowa. He graduated from high school in 1902 and attended Drake University for one year. He taught school in Ida County from 1904 to 1907, when he decided to become a printer and traveled to take jobs in South Dakota and Pennsylvania.

In 1909, B.H. Shearer moved to Columbus Junction, Iowa, where he purchased the Columbus Gazette from Mrs. O.I. Jamison. In 1924, he purchased the Columbus Safeguard, which he then incorporated into the Gazette. During the 1920s, Shearer also published a small church newspaper, The Blessed Truth, which had a worldwide circulation of about 3,000 copies each month. B.F. Shearer was also the publisher of the Iowa Union Farmer and the Illinois Union Farmer. He worked closely with Milo Reno who acted as editor-in-chief of the Iowa Union Farmer. Reno was the president of the Farmers Union and the leader of the Farmers Holiday movement. The Iowa Union Farmer was also edited for a while by H.R. Gross, who later went on to be a longtime member of U.S. House of Representatives.

Shearer was very active in community affairs. He was a member of the Columbus Junction school board for nearly twenty-five years, was president of the Columbus Junction chapter of the American Red Cross, was a member of the Masonic Lodge, and was the superintendent of the Columbus Junction Methodist Episcopal Church Sunday school for thirty-two years. In county matters he was a member of the Board of Social Welfare of Louisa County and was treasurer of the Louisa County chapter of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. In 1941, the governor appointed him to the Louisa County Defense Council. As a Democrat, Shearer acted as the Louisa County Chairman during Woodrow Wilson's administration.

B.H. Shearer was honored with many awards over the years. He was given a community-wide appreciation dinner by the Business and Professional Women's Club and the businessmen of Columbus Junction and he was honored by the Press Columnists of Iowa. In 1952, he received the Iowa Master Editor Publisher Award. At the time of his death in 1970, B.H. Shearer had had the distinction of being the editor-publisher of a weekly newspaper in Iowa under the same name and location for over sixty years.

The papers of B.H. Shearer include correspondence, journals, subject files, and photographs documenting his life and career. There are nearly four boxes of correspondence spanning some fifty years with letters from such notables as Guy M. Gillette, James A. Farley, Harold Royce Gross, Clyde La Verne Herring, Nelson George Kraschel, William Frederick Kopp, Edward Clayton Eicher, Arthur Capper, Louis Murphy, Lester Jesse Dickinson, Smith W. Brookhart, Alfred E. Smith, Woodrow Wilson, John Hammill, Ray Murphy, Edwin R. Hicklin, Henry Field, Gardner Cowles, and Milo Reno.

Shearer's journals for the years 1901 through 1969 are present, as are the journals of his wife from 1952-1954. The collection also contains Shearer family genealogical records. Business records for his newspapers and other ventures include tax receipts, vouchers, bank statements, and insurance premiums. Financial reports relate not only to his businesses but also to Ida and Louisa counties. Subject files include topics ranging from the Iowa Farmers Union to the Louisa County Fair.
Paul Shearer Papers (MsC0489)

Robert A. McCown, "B. H. Shearer, Country Editor." Books at Iowa 22 (April 1975)

Browse by Series:
Series 2: JOURNALS
Series 3: GENERAL

  • Box 1:
  • Undated
  • Correspondence - 1909-1929
  • Box 2:
  • Correspondence - 1930-1937
  • Box 3:
  • Correspondence - 1938-1959
  • Box 4:
  • Family Letters - 1941-1945
  • Vouchers and Receipts
  • Miscellaneous and non-manuscript items
  • Bank Statements
  • Tax Receipts
  • Louisa County Tax Levies
  • Series 2: JOURNALS
  • Box 5:
  • "1908 and 1909 Dates and later in book of Sister Bessie " B. H. Shearer - 1908, 1909
  • Correspondence - 1901-1906
  • Correspondence - 1932-1933
  • Correspondence - 1943-1945
  • Correspondence - 1947-1959
  • Maude Shearer - 1952-1954
  • Box 6:
  • B. H. Shearer - 1960-1969
  • Series 3: GENERAL
  • Box 7:
  • Insurance Premium Receipts
  • Miscellaneous Printed Material
  • Newspapers published by B.H. Shearer, including issues of the Iowa Union Farmer - 1933-1934
  • Obituaries and eulogies for B.H. Shearer
  • Programs from conventions of The Iowa Farmers Union - 1920, 1937, 1941, 1946
  • "Greatest Discoveries Ever Made -- Found in Our Bible and The Great Pyramid" by O. Gordon Pickett
  • Box 8:
  • Programs from Louisa County Fair - 1901, 1911, 1912, 1916, 1918, 1932, 1963, 1966
  • "What Makes Columbus Community?" - 1965
  • "Columbus Day U.S.A. Celebration, Columbus, Ohio"
  • Financial Report, Ida County, Iowa - 1935
  • Financial Reports and Year Books, Louisa County, Iowa - 1916, 1919-1921, 1923-1924, 1927-1936, 1962
  • "A Tentative Plan of School District Reorganization for Louisa County, January" - 1954
  • "Genealogical Record of The Shearer and Wise Family Relationship"
  • "Genealogical Record of the John Plasterer Family"
  • Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 9:
  • 2nd Annual Convention, F.E.C.U.A., Iowa Division, Des Moines, September 11 -- 13 - 1918
  • 3rd Annual Convention, F.E.C.U.A., Iowa Division, Des Moines, September 17 -- 19 - 1919
  • 14th Annual Convention, Iowa Farmers Union, Des Moines, September 16 -- 19 - 1930