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Release: June 14, 2001

Librarian Bob McCown honored with lifetime achievement award

University of Iowa manuscripts librarian Bob McCown has received the Petersen/Harlan Award, given to a single recipient each year by the State Historical Society of Iowa for lifetime achievement in the preservation of Iowa history.

McCown has spent over three decades gathering historical personal papers and records of value for the study of Iowa history. Among those papers he helped secure for the UI Libraries are the papers belonging to UI alumna Mary Louise Smith, who in the mid-1970s became the first woman to chair the Republican Party.

McCown said he wrote to Smith over a series of years as she progressed in her career with additional responsibilities with the Republican Party. He was able to secure Smith's personal papers, as well as those from former Iowa Governor and U.S. Senator Harold Hughes, among others.

McCown has spent his entire 31-year career in the UI Libraries' special collections department, first as manuscripts librarian, charged with the collection, organization, preservation, and making available for research the personal papers of Iowans and other records of historical interest. He served as head of the special collections department from 1986 to 1997 before returning to the position which he now holds.

McCown also served on the Iowa Historical Records Advisory Board from 1989 to 2000. The board, made up of archivists, historians and members of the general public, advises the Society on maintaining various historical records, including newspapers, county records, private collections and other artifacts.

McCown will transition from phased to full retirement in November 2001.