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Oral History Interviews

Junior League Oral History Project

This project was a cooperative endeavor by the Junior League of Cedar Rapids and the Cedar Rapids Public Library.  The first interview was done on July 27, 1984.  The interview was of Julia Robbins Allen and the interviewer was Inez Lyon.  The last (90th) interview was of Tom Armitage and was done by Mary R. Curran on October 29, 1984.

The project was called “Cedar Rapids:  The Early Community”.  It focused on interviews of community members with varied backgrounds who remembered early 20th century (1900-1940) life in Cedar Rapids.  The Chairperson was Laura M. Derr with training led by Harold Ewoldt of the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Loren Horton of the Iowa State Historical Society.

We have a voice cassette and a transcription of all 90 interviews.  They were gifted to us by the Cedar Rapids Public Library and accessioned as of January 25, 2005.

Interview Transcripts
Interview Subject/Profession and/or Topics Discussed/Date of Interview

Allen, Julia Robbins

Prominent people in Linn County



Literary history


Armitage, Tom

Director of Cedar Rapids Public Library; Vietnam


Armstrong, Esther

Distinguished Coe College alum; married Robert Armstrong; influential figure in CR community


Armstrong, Robert

Coe College alum; grandfather was William Cooper (helped create Coe College); family part of Coe’s Board of Trustees

1/25/1985 & 3/26/1985

Atkinson, Edith

Singer; Black history


Averill, Margaret

Red Cross; St. Lukes; Worth Averill


Barge, Harriet

Raising family in Time Check neighborhood


Basler, Eloise

Family celebrations; traditions; national & local events


Baumhoefer, Helen

Baumhoefer-Nursery Landscaping & Gardening


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Interviews on DVD

Thanks to volunteers Jerry Ferrie and Allan Eggers, The History Center has a large number of videos available for viewing.  These videos, made over a period of several years, feature both famous local residents and those who just enjoyed living in the Linn County area over the years.  They tell interesting stories of past events in their lives, people they have known and the places they fondly remember.

Following is an alphabetical list of those who have been interviewed thus far.  If you wish to view any of these videos please contact our museum curator at 319-362-1501 ext. 110 or email:

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