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Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Papers of Rufus H. Fitzgerald
RG 99.0315
Collection Dates: 1924-1945
Bulk: 1926-1937
0.25 linear ft.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

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Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Acquisition and Processing Information: 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.

Photographs: None

Rufus H. Fitzgerald, between 1930 and 1935

Rufus H. Fitzgerald, late 1920s
Photo: Frederick W. Kent Collection

Scope and Contents

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.

[D. Anderson; 08/2009]  

Biographical Note

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 Arts in 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.

[D. Anderson; 08/2009]

Related Materials

Folder, "Fitzgerald, Rufus Henry," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

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

Papers of Earl E. Harper (RG 99.0316)

Papers of Ted Rehder (RG 99.0014)

Papers of Grant Wood (RG 99.0033)

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

Papers of Lester D. Longman (RG 99.0031)

Papers of Charles A. Cumming (RG 99.0029)

Records of the School of Art and Art History (RG 06.07)

Records of the Iowa Memorial Union (RG 24.04)

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 (RG 01.01.03).

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.

Box Contents List

Box 1

Radio address transcripts. August and November 1927.

Speeches. 1928-1934.

Papers. 1926-1927.

Journal entries. October and 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."

Correspondence, folder 1 of 2

---. 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.

Correspondence, folder 2 of 2

---. 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, Josephine.1933.

---. 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.