US US-IaGG MS/MS 01.46
Name and location of repository
Level of description
Matlack Family Papers 1879-1997
Name of creator
Henry William Matlack was a professor of music at Grinnell College beginning in 1901. Merta Rebecca Johnson was his student and they married in 1903. In 1922 Henry was named alumni secretary of the college; he died in 1936. Merta was active in many community activities including the League of Women Voters and Entre Nous, was a determined gardener and expert weaver. In 1936 she was a local supervisor for the Consumer Purchases Study, a WPA project and continued working with area families on nutrition and housekeeping into the 1940s. She lived until 1968 in the family home at 1510 East Street in Grinnell.
They had six children, all of whom attended Grinnell College: David Johnson, Mary Westgate, Margaret Westgate, Jane Fairbanks, Laura Wolcott, Helen Constance. David remained a Grinnell resident his entire life; the daughters all moved away, married, and led active lives; eventually they all returned to Grinnell. Laura moved into the family home and lived there until her death in 1997. (See attachment: Matlack Family Tree for additional information about the children, their spouses, and offspring.)
Name of creator
Name of creator
Name of creator
Margaret Matlack Kiesel (1908-1987) was a writer, educator, feminist, and civil rights activist. She received her B.A. from Grinnell College in 1930 and her M.A. at Oberlin in 1932. She and her husband, Paul F., lived in Minnesota and Marshalltown, Iowa before returning to Grinnell in 1970. The bulk of the materials in this collection are from her work after her return to Grinnell and most of her published work is from this period. At the time of her death she was compiling a sociological and educational history of women in Grinnell.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
The collection includes a variety of materials belonging to several family members that were found in Laura's house after her death: legal papers; personal calendars of Merta, David, and Laura; papers of Henry and Merta from their professional careers; and family correspondence and other personal papers. They provide a glimpse into the activities of this fascinating Grinnell family.
The family papers generally include legal papers, information about genealogy, photos, correspondence, and miscellaneous items. Noteworthy items include My Family's History by Helen M. Hatch, A Christmas Memoiry by Margaret M. Kiesel, and numerous editions of The Maggie Gazette and Intelligence, a family newsletter written and published by Margaret M. Kiesel. The family correspondence is extensive, and gives a good look into the family members' lives.
Henry's papers include music that he wrote, church programs when he was organist, articles that he wrote on a variety of music-related issues, articles and talks on education (some written during his time as Alumni Secretary), and files of historical material from the Alumni Office.
Merta's papers include programs, reports, and yearbooks of organizations to which she belonged including Entre Nous, Uncle Sam's Club, and Congregational women's groups. Her professional papers include memos, time sheets, correspondence from her tenure with the Consumer Purchases Study and miscellaneous other activities. There are also items from Merta's college years, including papers and notebooks. Go to College and The Education of Merta Johnson Matlack as told by herself give a glimpse into what a woman's education was like around the turn-of-the-century. Gust Johnson's papers include newspaper clippings, letters, report cards, and other miscellaneous stuff.
David's papers include a birth certificate, newspaper clippings, programs from events in Grinnell, correspondence and calenders.
Laura corresponded with Art Department colleagues, other Grinnell College graduates from her class, and with Edith Sternfeld, a former art professor at the college. The remainder of Laura's papers contain material relating to her weaving and to organizations in which she was active including the League of Women Voters, Peace Links, and weavers' groups. Noteworthy items include letters and SGA minutes in response to Kent State killings and closing of Grinnell College, miscellaneous items regarding convocation of 1967 when Martin Luther King Jr spoke at Grinnell College and the Wiemans hosting Benjamin Mays at the 1967 convocation, Recollections of My Husband, Henry Nelson Wieman, and The History of Architecture ... Grinnell Iowa, 1949. Henry N. Wieman's papers include correspondence and newspaper articles, He was a professor of philosophy who taught at several notable universities. The bulk of Henry N. Wieman's papers are at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
There are also items from the four remaining Matlack siblings: Mary Davenport, Margaret Kiesel, Jane Rutherford, and Connie Wieman; Merta's parents, Gust and Elma Johnson; Laura'/s husband, Henry N. Wieman; and Maggie's mother-in-law, Anna Kiesel. Correspondence to the Matlack sisters and other papers of theirs are included. Stories about the birth of Connie (born on Christmas day) are especially charming. Anna Kiesel's items include photos, programs, and correspondence. She and Gust Johnson have papers in German and Swedish, that give a glimpse into the ethnic communities of the mid-west in the 19th Century.
There are four boxes of oversize materials that include records, artwork, certificates, photos, music, and correspondence.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Acquisition and appraisal elements
Received from Derrith R. Wieman, January 1998 through August 1998.
Immediate source of acquisition
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Booklets from the First Congregational Church, Grinnell, History of Iowa College (typescript) by Ephraim Adams, and a paper written by Mrs. H.W. Herron were put in the Iowa Room pamphlet collection.
Items Not Retained: Newspaper clippings (cartoons, puzzles and games, prizes and contests) from the Des Moines Register and the Chicago Daily News plus duplicates of some Consumer Purchases Survey memoranda were discarded. All of Merta's cooking pamphlets (from government agencies, educational institutions, and food-related businesses) were transferred to the Szathmary Collection at the University of Iowa Special Collections Department.
An interview with Laura is in the Kara Bakken collection (Ms. 01.36). Many historical essays about Grinnell College and alumni written by Margaret are in Margaret's papers (Ms 01.49).
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Subject access points
- College students -- Iowa -- Grinnell
- Congregational churches in Iowa.
- Entre Nous (Grinnell, Iowa)
- Grinnell (Iowa) - Social life and customs
- Grinnell (Iowa) -- Buildings, structures, etc
- Grinnell (Iowa) -- History
- Iowa--History--20th century
- League of Women Voters (Grinnell, Iowa)
- New Deal, 1933-1939
- Peace Links (Grinnell, Iowa)
- Uncle Sam's Club (Grinnell, Iowa)
- United States. Work Projects Administration
- United States. Works Progress Administration
- Women -- Societies and clubs
- Women college students -- Iowa -- Grinnell
Name access points
- Grinnell College (Subject)
- Grinnell College -- Alumni Association (Subject)
- Grinnell College -- Alumni and alumnae (Subject)
- Grinnell College -- Faculty (Subject)
- Grinnell College -- History (Subject)
- Grinnell College -- Students (Subject)
- Kiesel, Ferdinand J (Subject)
- Kiesel, Margaret Matlack (Class of 1930) (Subject)
- Kiesel, Paul F (Subject)
- Matlack, David Johnson (Class of 1927) (Subject)
- Matlack, Henry W. (Subject)
- Matlack, Merta (Class of 1904) (Subject)
- Sternfeld, Edith -- Correspondence (Subject)
- Wieman, Constance (Class of 1944) (Subject)
- Wieman, Henry Nelson (Subject)
- Wieman, Laura W. (Class of 1935) (Subject)
- Matlack family (Subject)