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The University of Iowa Libraries

Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Parsons Family Papers
MsC 888
Collection Dates: 1885-1909

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Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials.

Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections.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

Acquisition and Processing Information: This collection was purchased in 2009.

Photographs: None

Photo of diaries


Scope and Contents

The collection consists of four ledger type diaries from late 19th and early 20th century from Burlington, Iowa. These were the property of Albion Parsons and his son, Louis Alexander Parsons. The account books are dated 1885, 1896-1905, and 1905-1908. All are leather bound and filled with accounts, business and law notes, and travel logs. The 1885 trifold has Love's book store sticker on front inside cover. All are in very readable condition with some damage and wear to covers.

Louis A. Parson's Metallurgy Trip Diary (1909) is an outstanding item. The diary details visits to the Washoe Smelter of the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. at Anaconda, Montana and to the Boston and Montana Consolidated Copper and Silver Mining Company Smelter at Great Falls, Montana. The diary includes an index, several drawings, and detailed descriptions of the operations of the smelters.


Biographical Note

Louis Parsons grew up in Burlington, Iowa, during the 1870s and 1880s. He came from a middle-class family. His father, Albion, owned a general store. His mother, Mary, raised Louis and his older sister, Ella. When Louis was 13 (1885), his father passed away. As a boy, Louis enjoyed drawing and playing with his cousins. His also practiced technical skills, like photography and making electric batteries. Louis attended West Hill, a private middle and high school in Burlington. He had a number of health problems that caused him to miss one year of school. One of his favorite childhood memories was visiting California in 1889.


Related Materials

Louis A. Parsons essays & compositions, 1887-1892 . Originals in Burlington Public Library. In digital form at Iowa Digital Library.(Search under title in the Digital Library)

A two weeks vacation trip from Iowa City, Iowa to Burlington, down the Iowa and Mississippi Rivers, July, 1899. Original in Special Collections at the University of Iowa Libraries Ms I64io; online at Iowa Digital Library



Box Contents List

Account Book I:  Louis A. Parsons, General Account Book, Burlington, Iowa, March 1896

Heirs in Law of A. Parsons, &. Louis A. Parsons Accounts, Book No. 1 - 1896 - 1905

4 3/4 x 7 1/2

Page: Contents

----.  (1) Index

----.  (4) Heirs in Law of A. Parsons in account with Louis A. Parsons Agt

----.  (40) Louis A. Parsons in account with Louis A. Parsons Agt.

----.  (58) Mary A. Parsons

----.  (72) Ella Vaughn

----.  (88) General Cash Account

----.  (84) Martha Flanders

----.  (56) Board of Education

----.  (42, 128, 140) Carl Stutsman agent

----.  (138) Mary H. Parsons in acct. with LAP not as agent

----.  (128) Carl Stutsman

----.  (137) Fire Fund

----.  (142) Books loaned


Account Book II
: Louis Parsons itemized cash account No. 5, August 1905 - December 1908

3 1/8 x 5 1/8

A typical cashbook account, documenting the expenses of living for this three year period. These include his paychecks and from whom they came, as well as all his expenses such as gifts, wood, bills, charities, church, etc.


Account Book III
: Louis A. Parsons - 932 Valley Street, Burlington la; Baltimore, MD 314 West Hoffman Street; Box 487 Johns Hopkins

5 1/4 x 2 1/4 -- 1899 and 1900

Small memorandum volume with graph type paper, written in a close neat hand, includes cash expenses for living, regular expenses include: Street Car, tickets, dinner, maps, sleeping car, storage on baggage, etc.; scientific notations; record of fines; several small graphs (oscillation?); formula for developer solution - notations of Hydrogen, spectra.

Account Book IV
: Albion Parsons Burlington Iowa - 1885-1899

Various accounts such as Mary H. Parsons as Guardian of Louis A. Parsons minor.

Single sheet of paper with accounts, n.d.

Printout of the 1856 State Census, Burlington Township; Des Moines County, Iowa