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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Jean Shoots papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1990-1998
Creator: Shoots, Jean (1926-)
Extent: 1.00 linear inch.
Collection Number: IWA0308
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Writer, performer, volunteer, and nurse in Iowa City.

Alternate Extent Statement: 2 videocassettes [V126 and V192]

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright of all literary material created by the donor has been retained by the donor and her heirs.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 422) were donated by Jean Shoots in 1997 and succeeding years.

Preferred Citation: Jean Shoots 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

Jean McDonald Shoots, an African-American nurse, volunteer, writer, and performer, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on April 12, 1926, to George Edward and Christina Robinson McDonald. During the Depression, in the early 1930s, Jean McDonald and her family were sent to live in a tented community in Dennison, Iowa, where men were constructing buildings for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). As a girl, Jean McDonald and her sisters performed as a song-and-dance group. They were featured in their own fifteen-minute radio show in Marshalltown, Iowa. Jean McDonald went on to marry and became known as Jean Shoots. She had one son.

Jean Shoots received her practical nursing degree from a school for special surgery in New York City after receiving her general equivalency diploma (GED). She later earned a degree in registered nursing from Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. Shoots spent most of her career as a registered nurse in Iowa City, Iowa, including several years at the Veterans' Hospital and at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

After her retirement from nursing, Shoots volunteered her time with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)and the Youth and Elderly in Service program (YES) in Iowa City, Iowa. She also served on the Citizen's Advisory Committee of the Iowa City Press-Citizen. She received an award from Governor Terry Branstad at the Governor's Annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony in 1997. In 1998, she was the keynote speaker at a University of Iowa Community Convocation in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week. Shoots also became active in the creative arts in Iowa City: she wrote short stories, acted in the Seniors Standing Room Only (SSRO)group, and performed in the Iowa City public-access television shows, "Open Channel" and "Letters to My Sister.

The Jean Shoots papers date from 1990 to 1998 and measure 1 linear inch. The papers also include some undated material. The collection consists primarily of photocopied items, yet also includes audiovisual material. Two videocassettes comprise the collection: the first features Shoots reading two of her stories, "Dogs and Cats "and "Cousins," on the Iowa City public cable-access program, "Open Channel, "and the second is Shoots's presentation of an excerpt from her public-access cable television show "Letters to My Sister." A copy of the introduction of Shoots at this program, which was a Black History Month event at the Iowa City Johnson County Senior Center, is also included in the collection. The papers also contain newspaper clippings, a biographical sketch about Shoots, a photograph of Shoots accepting the Governor's volunteer award from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, and the award itself. Other contents include five of Shoots's short stories, correspondence, and an introduction of Shoots, who introduced University of Iowa law professor Adrien Wing at a 1997 lecture.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Biographical sketch, undated
  • Poster: In Our Midst, Black History Month event featuring Kathryn Neal, Iowa Women's Archives, Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center - 1998
  • Correspondence - 1994-1997
  • Governors Volunteer Award and photograph - 1997
  • Introduction of Shoots
  • Adrien Wing lecture - 1997
  • Letters to My Sister": A Special Reading Honoring the Civil Rights Struggle and "For My People, a Poem" by Margaret Walker, Black History Month event featuring Jean Shoots - 1998
  • Letters to the editor - 1995
  • University of Iowa Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week Community Convocation Program - 1998
  • Newspaper clippings - 1990-1998
  • Nostalgia, WMT Radio reading, undated
  • Senior Standing Room Only performance schedule - 1995
  • Short story: The Family - 1992
  • Short story: The Words - 1994
  • Short story: Baby Dears Party - 1996
  • Short story: Sometime--Just Once You Take a Stand - 1997
  • Short story: The Graduation - 1997
  • Short story: Shopping - 1998
  • [V126]: Open Channel - 1996
  • [V192]: A reading from Letters to My Sister - 1998
  • Photograph: Jean Shoots at African-American Read-In, SE Junior High, Iowa City - 1998