There is more to the story…no matter which chapter interests you the most! Resources abound for the researcher who wants to dive in.

Photo of Mildred standing backwards at end of diving platform  preparing to dive into the Iowa River, ca 1920s.  Photo of Mildred diving, arms outstretched, into the Iowa River, ca 1920s.  Photo of the Seals at the University of Iowa, ca 1920s. A dozen members posing for a photo by the Iowa River. Photo of Mildred.

To learn more about Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson and Nancy Drew scholarship, check out these following resources:


  • The Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson papers can be found at the Iowa Women’s Archives of the University of Iowa Libraries. This collection includes manuscript drafts, newspaper articles by Benson, photographs, and more.
  • The Benson, Mildred Augustine Wirt correspondence folder in Iowa Authors, Administrative Files at the Special Collections and University Archives, University of Iowa Libraries holds letters from Frank Paluka and other staff members as they search out and collect books by Mildred Wirt Benson for the Iowa Room. Special Collections holds an extensive collection of her novels.
  • The Carolyn Dyer papers, found at the Iowa Women’s Archives, contain materials from the 1993 Nancy Drew Conference, including testimonials from readers all over the country on what Nancy Drew meant to them. Also in this collection over 100 Mildred Wirt Benson books, which span multiple decades and include several copies in foreign languages.
  • The Nancy Drew Collection, housed at the Iowa Women’s Archives, is an ongoing collection of materials relating to the 1993 Nancy Drew Conference and Mildred Wirt Benson.
  • The Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame Records, also located at the Iowa Women’s Archives, holds Benson’s 1994 application to the Hall of Fame, written by Carolyn Dyer on her behalf.

Books & Excerpts

  • Frank Paluka, “Mildred A Wirt,” Iowa Authors (1967): 197-208.
  • Carolyn Dyer and Nancy Tillman Romalov, Rediscovering Nancy Drew (University of Iowa Press, 2015), a compilation of scholarly essays and other writings from the Nancy Drew Conference.
  • Melanie Rehak, Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her (Harcourt, Inc., 2005). This book that looks at the roles of Edward Stratemeyer, Harriet Adams, and Mildred Wirt Benson in the creation of Nancy Drew, as well as how her character endured and grew through the decades. Both this book and Rediscovering Nancy Drew can be found in the book stacks at the Iowa Women’s Archives.
  • Julie K. Rubini, Missing Millie Benson: The Secret Case of the Nancy Drew Ghostwriter and Journalist (Ohio University Press, 2015), an in-depth biography on Mildred Wirt Benson.
  • The 1924 State University of Iowa yearbook. Mildred Augustine is mentioned for being involved with soccer (259), joining the Cosmopolitan Club (387), and participating in the Freshman Women’s Literary Society (409).
  • The 1925 State University of Iowa yearbook. Mildred Augustine is shown for joining Hawkeye Staff (183) and the Daily Iowan (185), successfully auditioning for the Seals Club (304), and continuing with the Cosmopolitan Club (458).
  • The 1926 State University of Iowa yearbook. Mildred Augustine’s senior picture is in this album (64), along with photos and mentions for being involved with the Hawkeye Staff (187), Orchestra (212), the Seals Club (320), Theta Sigma Phi (457), the Athena Literary Society (479), the Cosmopolitan Club (481), and Kappa Phi (489).

Essays & Articles

  • Mildred Wirt Benson, “The Ghost of Ladora,” Books at Iowa 19 (November 1973): 24-29. This piece reflects on her writing career and passion for adventure.
  • “The Adventurous Millie Benson,” The People’s Voice 3, no. 4 (December 1974).
  • Geoffrey S. Lapin, “The Ghost of Nancy Drew,” Books at Iowa 50 (April 1989), pages 8-27. Lapin wrote this piece to describe his research as he sought out the original Carolyn Keene.
  • Jennifer Fisher, “Mildred Wirt Benson & Carolyn Keene: A Mystery Revealed,” Firsts The Book Collector’s Magazine (December 2006): 18-31.


[Pictured above are photos of Mildred diving into the Iowa River and the Seals at the University of Iowa, ca 1920s.]