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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Louise Liers papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1911-1983
Creator: Liers, Louise (1887-1983)
Extent: 5.00 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0570
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: World War I Army nurse from Clayton, Iowa.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers were donated by Louis Ehrhardt (donor no. 1067) and James Ehrhardt (donor no. 1068) in 2006.

Preferred Citation: Louise Liers 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

World War I Army nurse Louise Marie Liers, who was also an obstetrics and baby care specialist, was born in 1887 to Frank and Caroline Liers in Clayton, Iowa. She graduated from high school in Dubuque, Iowa, and attended nurse's training at St. Luke's hospital in Chicago, Illinois. After her graduation in 1910, Liers continued working at St. Luke's until 1916, during which time she organized and headed the obstetrics department.

After leaving St Luke's, Liers enrolled in the Red Cross and was sent to France during World War I as an Army nurse. She was stationed in Nevers, France, which was approximately four hours from Paris by train. She treated wounded soldiers for sixteen months in France. After the war Liers resumed her career in private nursing in the Chicago area. She returned to Clayton, Iowa, in 1927 however, due to her father's death and her mother's illness. Although she did not expect to continue nursing, the need for medical practitioners in her community prompted Liers to resume providing nursing care. Liers retired from hospital duty in 1949 (at which point a local newspaper reported that she had attended early 7,200 births), but she continued nursing her neighbors in the Elkader and Garnavillo area until she was eighty years old. Louise Liers died in the Guttenberg Care Center in 1983.

The Louise Liers papers date from 1911 to 1983 and measure 5 linear inches. The bulk of the collection pertains to Liers' experiences in World War I. The biographical information includes an oral history interview conducted with Liers by Louis Ehrhardt in the 1970s in which Liers describes her wartime experiences; it also contains newspaper clippings about Liers written when she retired and on her 90th birthday. Liers' journal, which she kept while in France, contains just a few entries.

Liers glued many documents into a volume titled Our Family Service Record in the Great World War, published by the War Service Record Bureau to provide "a practical means of preserving the individual War Records of the gallant Sons of this great Republic." These documents include correspondence from the base hospital and the Red Cross, military passes, and a metro map of Paris. Loose documents were removed from the volume and placed in a separate folder. These include Liers' official military orders, demobilization papers, memorabilia related to social events, personal and official correspondence, and welcome home telegrams. The correspondence album contains letters written by Liers to family members during her World War I service; most are handwritten, but a few are typed. The correspondence album also contains Liers' War Department ID, her Red Cross certification, a photograph of nurses marching in a parade, a medal attached to a multi-colored ribbon with the word "France" on it, and two letters written by Liers in the late 1970s. An album of photographs taken while Liers was stationed in France completes the collection; Liers provides details on where and why these photos were taken in her oral history interview.

Browse by Series:

  • Box 1:
  • Biographical information - 1949-1983
  • Journal - 1918
  • "Our Family Service Record in the Great World War" - 1917-1919
  • Loose papers taken from the "Service Record" - 1916-1919
  • Correspondence album - 1911-1919
  • Correspondence - 1977-1978
  • Photograph album - 1918-1919