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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Esther Christensen papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1908-1987
Creator: Christensen, Esther (1895-1987)
Extent: .50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0596
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: 65-page memoir of Fayette County, Iowa farmwoman.

Arrangement: One folder, shelved in SCVF.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has not been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no.36) were donated by Miriam Colvin in 2000.

Preferred Citation: Esther Christensen 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

Esther Downs was born May 9, 1895 in Auburn Township, Fayette County, in northeastern Iowa. After finishing eighth grade she 'hired out,' taking care of sick people. She also worked as a waitress and at the County Farm. On November 12, 1919 she married Morris Christensen, who had just returned from participating in World War I. They raised two sons and twin daughters. Morris Christensen died April 26, 1979 and Esther Christensen died October 5, 1987.

The Esther Christensen papers date from 1908 to 1987 and measure 0.5 linear inches. The papers consist of seven short newspaper accounts and a photocopied sixty-five page memoir, "Our Heritage," by Esther Christensen. She begins with quotes from her father's written description of his service in the Civil War. He describes battles in Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi, and the wounds that sent him to Keokuk, Iowa for recovery. His reminiscences of war, some painful, some funny, are included. The Christensen memoir includes descriptions of church services, boating tragedies, tornadoes, house calls and baby deliveries by the local doctor. She describes the building of a homestead, the discovery of Indian arrowheads, county fairs and perfect three layer cakes with seven minute frosting! Christensen also tells of country school, her recitations, Gypsies camping in the woods, and the loss of a brother due to a gun accident, the Spanish Influenza, the loss of a son. Her memoir concludes with her reflections on her ninety-first birthday. Family pictures are reproduced throughout the memoir.

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