WRITER: LESLIE DELAVAN
CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: June 28, 2002
Nancy Drew author lives on in Iowa Women's Archives
the death of Nancy Drew author Mildred Benson last month, her memory lives
on in an exhibit about the writer in the Iowa Women's Archives (IWA) at the
University of Iowa Libraries.
Visitors to the archives can view a photograph of Benson doing a swan dive
off a local bridge into the Iowa River while she was enrolled as a student
at the university in the 1920s. Also on display is her memory book, which
provides clues to her experiences as an Iowa high school and college student.
Benson graduated from the university in 1925 and worked briefly as a reporter
before returning to the UI in 1927 to earn a master's degree in journalism.
Dance cards, photos of Benson with the Cosmopolitan Club and the Seals swim
club, and newspaper articles announcing her xylophone performances evoke images
of the active young woman who developed the spunky character of Nancy Drew
for the Stratemeyer Syndicate.
Her memory book of her time spent at the University of Iowa is just one
of the items in the Mildred Wirt Benson collection in the Iowa Women's Archives.
The collection on Benson, the first person to receive a master's degree in
journalism from the University of Iowa, is unique to the university, said
IWA Curator Karen Mason.
"I don't know of any other collection that is as extensive as ours
that is also available to the public," Mason said. "What makes this
collection interesting is that it illustrates so many facets of her life and
work. When you look at her memory book and her childhood writings, you can
see where the adventurous Nancy Drew came from -- but you see so much more
than that, too."
The Mildred Wirt Benson papers measure one linear foot and date from around
1915 to the present. The collection includes examples of Benson's fiction
writing (illustrating the various stages of writing a series for a syndicate),
as well as her newspaper work. Also included is considerable information of
a bibliographic nature relating to the authorships of the Nancy Drew books
and a memory book that includes her high school years as well as college career.
Benson is best known as the author of 23 of the Nancy Drew books. But she
wrote more than 100 series books for adolescent girls and boys under her own
name and pen names and had a long career as a journalist at the Toledo Blade.
The special collections department, also in the University's Main Library,
holds an extensive collection of her books.
The Iowa Women's Archives and the special collections department are located
on the third floor of the Main Library. Archives hours are Monday through
Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.