Irma Dovey Papers, 1918-2003

Collection Overview

Title: Irma Dovey Papers, 1918-2003

Record Series: MsC-60

Record Group:


Creator: Dovey, Irma

Date: 1918-2003

Extent: 8 boxes (3.336 linear feet)

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.

Language: Materials entirely in English.

Information for Users

Accessing the Collection:

No restrictions. Materials are open for research.

Custodial History:

When Irma Dovey died in 2003, her close friend Mildred Middleton gathered Irma Dovey's papers from her room at Meth-Wick Manor in Cedar Rapids and took them to her home. Mildred Middleton contacted the Rod Library about the disposition of the papers. Gerald L. Peterson, University Archivist, visited Mildred Middleton's home in Cedar Rapids in November 2003 and brought the papers back to the Rod Library.

Sensitive Materials Statement: Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy or similar laws, and the Iowa Open Records Law (see Iowa Code § 22.7). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Northern Iowa assumes no responsibility.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], in the [Series Title] #[series number], [folder number or title when applicable], [Collection Name], Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.

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Historical Note

Irma Dovey was born March 9, 1908, in Franklin County, Iowa. Her parents were James and Mary March Dovey. Irma Dovey had two siblings: Ford, who died at the age of 21, and Ethel, who died when she was only a few days old. Irma Dovey attended elementary and high school in Hansel, Iowa.

Irma Dovey earned her B. A. degree from Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa), in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 1930. In 1934 she received her M. A. degree from Colorado State Teachers College. Irma Dovey started her teaching career in several small Iowa towns, Oakland, Essex, Solon, and Ira. For a short time she taught in Kingsport, Tennessee. However, she returned to Iowa and settled in Cedar Rapids. She taught in several Cedar Rapids elementary schools, including Tyler and Taylor Schools, during the next fifteen years before becoming a principal in the district. Irma Dovey was a principal for twenty-two years, at Hayes, Hiawatha, and Jackson Schools, before she retired in 1973. However, that was not the end of her teaching career. She then taught several college courses for Coe and Kirkwood Colleges. Eventually she started a class for senior writers at the Witwer Center, which continued to meet even after she was unable to attend.

Irma Dovey was primarily an educator, but she was also a widely-published writer and poet. She wrote hundreds of poems and short stories, as well as professional articles. She had over eight hundred poems published in many different venues. Much of her early work appeared in children's and educational magazines. She also submitted work to newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and the Cedar Rapids Gazette. She submitted much of her later work to publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Modern Maturity.

Teaching and writing led Irma Dovey to join many organizations over the course of her lifetime. She was a member of the Iowa Poetry Day Association, president of the Quota Club in 1957, and branch president of the National League of Pen Women from 1974 to 1976, as well as Iowa president of that group from 1976 to 1978. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma and a lifetime member of the National Education Association.

Irma Dovey died October 19, 2003, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the age of 95.

Scope and Content

Substantial parts of the papers were in relatively good order. Public History intern Emily Stohlmeyer, under the supervision of Gerald Peterson, worked with the existing order, organized the remainder of the collection, and took appropriate preservation and conservation measures in January-April 2004.

The collection is organized into two main sections. First, Box 1 contains material relating to Irma Dovey's personal and professional life. Included are several short autobiographical statements written by Irma Dovey. There is a nice selection of teaching contracts from her professional career. Likewise, genealogical material relating to the Dovey family and the March family is especially strong. And second, the remainder of the collection, Boxes 2-8, relates to Irma Dovey's writing. There is extensive editorial correspondence, many individual poems and short stories, and several collections of her writing. We have attempted to preserve Irma Dovey's arrangement of her work, even when that arrangement resulted in several files of poems and short stories instead of one integrated file. For the same reason, we have preserved the three scrapbooks in Box 8, even though the work in those scrapbooks is duplicated in other parts of the collection. Consequently, researchers seeking a particular poem or short story may need to check several portions of the collection.


Box 1

Folders 1-4: Personal

  • Folder 1: Family
  • Folder 2: Photographs
  • Folder 3: Education
  • Folder 4: Professional

Folders 5-14: Biographical information

  • Folder 5: Photographs of Irma Dovey
  • Folder 6: Educational records
  • Folder 7: Certificates and diplomas
  • Folder 8: Teaching contracts
  • Folder 9: Genealogy and family history
  • Folder 10: Expense records
  • Folder 11: Awards
  • Folder 12: Photos by Irma Dovey
  • Folder 13: Correspondence to and from Irma Dovey
  • Folder 14: News about friends; poetry by others

Box 2

Folder 1: Word quizzes for children

Folder 2: Inventories of Irma Dovey's published work

Folder 3: Correspondence with editors about publication of Irma Dovey's work

Box 3

Short stories by Irma Dovey, in alphabetical order by title, A-O

Box 4

Short stories by Irma Dovey, in alphabetical order by title, P-Z

Box 5 - Poetry by Irma Dovey

Folders 1-4: Collections

  • Folder 1: Long About Tuesday,
  • Folder 2: This is Tomorrow and Other Poems
  • Folder 3: The Sweep Hand
  • Folder 4: Joy in the Morning

Folders 5-13: Other poetry.

Some of the poems are arranged alphabetically by title. Others remain in categories assigned by Irma Dovey:

  • Folder 5: Children's published poems
  • Folder 6: Contest poems
  • Folder 7: Iowa Poetry Day Association
  • Folder 8: Meth-Wick poems
  • Folder 9: North Iowa Times Poets' Port
  • Folder 10: Poems on writing,
  • Folder 11: Purple Pen poems,
  • Folder 12: Quickenings
  • Folder 13: Religious poems

Box 6

Poetry by Irma Dovey, arranged alphabetically by title, A-Z

Box 7

Three scrapbooks of Irma Dovey's published poetry, mostly 1970s and 1980s, clipped from publications and mounted in scrapbooks

Box 8

Folders 1-5: Collections and books:

  • Folder 1: Acquaintance (collection of Irma Dovey's poetry);
  • Folder 2: Kids, Pets, and an Elephant (collection of Irma Dovey's short stories);
  • Folder 3: Cedar Rapids Trivia (Irma Dovey was a contributor);
  • Folder 4: A Shropshire Lad, by A. E. Housman (Grosset & Dunlap, New York: 1932);
  • Folder 7: More Poems, by A. E. Housman (Knopf, New York: 1936)

Processing Information

Papers processed by Public History Intern Emily Stohlmeyer, under the supervision of University Archivist Gerald L. Peterson; finding aid prepared by Gerald L. Peterson, January-April, 2004; modified: February 2, 2015 (GP). Last updated by Library Associate Dave Hoing, October 2017. Linear feet count updated on August 7, 2017.