MsC 51

Collection Dates: 1881 -- 1952
.25 linear ft.

Collection Guide

This document describes a Manuscript Collection held by the

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries

Guide Contents

Administrative Information

Biographical and Historical Information

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Related Materials

Acquisition and Processing Information

Box Contents List

Administrative Information

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.

Copyright:  Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on "Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials"

Use of Collections:  The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections.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.

Biographical Note

John MacVicar was born on July 4, 1859 in Galt, Ontario, Canada. His parents, John and Mary (McEwan) MacVicar had emigrated from Scotland seven years before and eventually settled in Erie, Pennsylvania. MacVicar went to school and soon began working for a mercantile house in Erie. In 1882 MacVicar moved to Des Moines, Iowa, to manage the wallpaper department of Redhead, Norton, Lathrop & Co. On June 14, 1884 MacVicar married Nettie Nash and the couple had four children: Mary, Marjorie, John, and Dorothy. By 1893 he had opened his own wallpaper business, John MacVicar Co. He developed an interest in local politics, serving as town clerk, being elected as mayor in 1896, and later serving on the city council. A proponent of the commission form of city government, while he was mayor Des Moines became the first city of its size to adopt the idea. He served as mayor 1896 -- 1898, 1898 -- 1900, 1916 -- 1918, and again in 1928. Becoming something of an expert on municipal government, MacVicar wrote extensively on the topic for magazines. He lived and worked in Des Moines until his death on November 15, 1928 while serving his fourth term as mayor.

A. Neville, September 2005

Information taken from a letter from Nettie (Nash) MacVicar from James T. White Co. (The National Cyclopedia of American Biography).

Scope and Contents

This small collection is made up of correspondence, legal papers, clippings, photographs, and scrapbook pages.

Photographs: Box 1

Related Materials

The State Historical Society of Iowa has 20 linear feet of material on MacVicar at the Des Moines Library

Acquisition and Processing Information

These papers were given to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1959 by Marjorie Macomber, Marjorie Sheehan, and Iva Ethel Walker. It was collected by George Sheets, and was a part of the Sheets collection until 2005, when that collection was broken into various collections.

Guide posted to Internet: November 2005

Box Contents List


To John MacVicar from H.C. Corbin, 5 January 1881. Invitation to the inauguration of James Garfield

To John B. Lucas from John MacVicar, Sr., 25 October 1907

To John MacVicar from his father (John MacVicar), 7 November 1907

To John MacVicar from his father, 25 November, no year

To Nettie (Nash) MacVicar from James T. White Co., 22 August 1929. Includes biographical information

Legal documents

Proposal for a furnace installation in the South Des Moines MacVicar home. 2 November 1886

The State of Iowa v. A.H. Kyser for "carrying a gun on the Sabbath day". 18 November 1888

Incorporated Town of North Des Moines v. J.P. Cross et al. 16 May 1889

Statement from Mr. Cate. 3 February 1890

Letter from Robert Fullerton to Mr. Hamilton. 9 December, no year (?)

Newspaper clippings, 1877 -- 1952


John MacVicar with notes on back

John MacVicar with cardboard frame

John MacVicar

Scrapbook pages, 1911 -- 1915; includes political cartoons, short articles, poems

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