Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Rufus H. Fitzgerald Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1924-1945
Creator: Fitzgerald, Rufus H. (1890-1966)
Extent: .25 linear feet.
Collection Number: RG99.0315
Repository: University of Iowa Archives
Summary: Director of Iowa Memorial Union and School of Fine Arts. Correspondence, speeches, radio addresses.

Access: This collection is open for research.

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

Acquisition: These papers were transferred to the University of Iowa Libraries from the University Business Office in August 1978. Guide posted to the Internet in August 2009.

Preferred Citation: Rufus H. Fitzgerald Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: David McCartney

Rufus Henry Fitzgerald was born on November 22, 1890, in Pelham, North Carolina. He received his B.A. degree in 1911 from Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. He took his M.A. degree from the University of Tennessee in 1919. Fitzgerald completed graduate work in Egypt and Syria. During his career, he was awarded honorary degrees from eight colleges and universities.
Fitzgerald's first appointment at the State University of Iowa was in 1919 as general secretary of the YMCA. In 1923 he was named director of student services. This position involved fund-raising for the construction of the Iowa Memorial Union. He was named director of the IMU in December 1925. In addition to these duties, he was named director of the School of Fine Arts in 1929. This appointment occurred two years after professor Charles A. Cumming retired as director of the Department of Graphic and Plastic Arts. Cumming established and directed that department since 1908. According to Charles Edward Calmer, Ph.D., Fitzgerald selected the west bank of the Iowa River for the location of the arts campus and organized the fund-raising for the art building. A third title was given to Fitzgerald in 1934, that of head of the Department of History and Appreciation of Fine Arts. Working in this capacity allowed him to appoint artist Grant Wood to the faculty in 1934 and Lester D. Longman as head of the Department of Graphic and Plastic Artsin 1936. Fitzgerald resigned in February 1938 to accept the position of provost at the University of Pittsburgh. He served as chancellor at that university from 1945 to 1955.
According to the memorial prepared by M. Willard Lampe, Fitzgerald learned of a charming church and measured it to create a replica on the SUI campus, the Danforth Chapel.
Fitzgerald married Damie M. Cornell and the couple had two daughters, Helen and Mildred. He later married Elizabeth Hay. Rufus H. Fitzgerald died on April 11, 1966.

The Rufus H. Fitzgerald papers relate to his professional career at the State University of Iowa from 1923 to 1938. During that time he served as director of student services, followed by director of the Iowa Memorial Union, director of the School of Fine Arts, and head of the Department of History and Appreciation of Fine Arts.Of note is a 1929 comparison of fund-raising outcomes for university unions around the country and in Toronto, because Fitzgerald was successful at fund-raising during the Great Depression. This chart is attached to correspondence dated January 8, 1929, from J. E. Walters of Purdue University. Fitzgerald promoted the Iowa Memorial Union through radio presentations during 1927 and two transcripts of those addresses are housed in this collection.This collection also includes one 1927 program of the eighth annual conference held by the Association of College and University Unions at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City, Iowa. Several of Fitzgerald's speeches, included here, addressed the waning influence of religious organizations in college administration nationwide and he suggested that university unions should be responsible for the religious life of undergraduate students.Correspondence is arranged alphabetically into two folders and is dated 1924 to 1945. A major correspondent is Alice Littig Siems, an SUI alumna and Illinois sculptor, dated 1932 to 1934. Siems corresponded about professor Charles A. Cumming, Lorado Taft, Jonas Lie, and various works of art. Another correspondent is Illinois artist Lorado Taft regarding his lecture series at SUI in January, February, and April 1934, to include his famous modeling lecture.Each line in the box list represents one folder, unless otherwise indicated.
Folder, "Fitzgerald, Rufus Henry," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG01.0015.003)

Calmer, Charles Edward. "Rufus H. Fitzgerald: UI Arts Enthusiast." Playbill 66, no. 2 (1986): 19-20

Papers of Earl E. Harper (RG99.0316)

Papers of Ted Rehder (RG99.0014)

Papers of Grant Wood (RG99.0033)

Wood, Grant. Letter to Rufus Henry Fitzgerald (MsL W8759 AC)

Papers of Lester D. Longman (RG99.0031)

Papers of Charles A. Cumming (RG99.0029)

Records of the School of Art and Art History (RG06.0007.001)

Records of the Iowa Memorial Union (RG24.0004.001)

Musselman, Gearhart Alan. "A History of the Iowa Memorial Union." M.A. thesis, University of Iowa, 1969. 223 pp. Main T1969.M988; Archives LD2570 .I68M88 1969; Archives, in Historical Papers Collection (RG01.0001.003).

Neville, Mary Jane. "A History of the Iowa Memorial Union." Iowa City, 1944. 25 pp. In "History of the University of Iowa, Miscellaneous Papers," 5. Archives, LD2568 .H58 1942 v.5.

Warrick, Daniel Charles. "The Establishment of the Study of Fine Arts at the State University of Iowa during the Administration of Walter A. Jessup and Carl E. Seashore." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Missouri, 1995. 257 pp. Dissertation Abstracts International 57: 3751-A. Administrative support for art, music, and theatre, with general administrative background; also includes Rufus H. Fitzgerald.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Radio address transcripts, August, November - 1927
  • Speeches - 1928-1934
  • Papers - 1926-1927
  • Journal entries, October, December - 1926
  • Questions Used as a Basis For Conferences on Memorial Union
  • Association of College and University Unions  Minutes, event program, and presenter's notes, November-December - 1927
  • Conference material University of Chicago - 1932
  • Newspaper clippings - 1933-1934
  • Employment applications, recruiting and recommendations - 1925-1932
  • Subject file, "Guidance of College Freshmen: A Study of Some Special Factors"
  • Box 1:
  • A-R
  • Anderson, M. M. 1929-1930
  • Bash, Mary I. 1927
  • Bickersteth, J. B. 1928
  • Boyd, Ben B. 1933
  • Butts, Porter 1928
  • Christensen, Erwin O. 1933
  • Colt, John 1927
  • Drake, Edward S. 1929
  • Ensign, Forest C. 1927
  • Foster, T. Henry 1934
  • Gauss, Christian 1930
  • Gilmore, Eugene A. 1937
  • Goodell, William F. 1931
  • Gray, William S. 1932
  • Hall, W. Earl 1927
  • Harper, Earl E. 1945
  • Hastings, Jessie P. 1934
  • Henley, William B. 1928
  • Hester, Eleanor 1924
  • Hotz, Marcella 1929
  • Jessup, Walter A. 1927-1932
  • Johnson, Mrs Charles J. 1932
  • Kulp, May E. 1932
  • Landes, B. E. 1927
  • Lauer, Edward H. 1926
  • Lawton, Marsh 1928
  • Lemon, W. P. 1931
  • Lie, Jonas 1933
  • Maxon, Sara S 1932
  • Moore, H J 1927
  • Moorhead, R W 1932
  • Nelson, Emerson "Spike" W. 1931
  • Orwig, Louise 1933
  • Packer, Paul C. 1933
  • Pelzer, Louis 1925
  • Phillips, J. D. 1929
  • Plum, Harry H. 1932
  • Pratt, Emily Russell 1933
  • Pride, H. E. 1929
  • Proehl, Otto L. 1931
  • Rance, J. J. 1927
  • R-W
  • Rehder, Theodore 1927-1932
  • Schaffter, Hattie 1933
  • Schoentgen, E. P. 1931
  • Sebern, Charles L. 1931
  • Shambaugh, Benjamin A. 1927
  • Siems, Alice Littig 1931-1934
  • Staab, Josephine1933
  • Stafford, Ed E. 1927-1929
  • Taft, Lorado 1933-1934
  • Vanhorn, J. B. 1930
  • Vierck, Charles 1927
  • Walters, Jack E. 1929
  • Winter, S. G. 1932
  • Wren, "Bud" 1930

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

University of Iowa Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Associates' Papers