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Bess and Fred E. Ferguson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 13/13/52

Scope and Content

This collection (1887-1986, undated) contains biographical materials, transcripts and articles, correspondence, and farm records. The bulk of the collection documents the life work of Elizabeth "Bess" Storm Ferguson. These materials include personal and professional correspondence, transcripts, and writings. Much of her writings focus on foods and nutrition, growing and cooking with herbs, and other topics of interest to homemakers. Materials related to Fred include biographical information, some of his agricultural writings, and farm records of the Ferguson Brothers Farm. The farm records consist of extensive correspondence between Fred and his brothers as they manage the family farm through depression, drought, and war. The letters document interactions between Fred, his brothers, bankers, livestock dealers, and grain buyers. The collection also contains family correspondence of both the Storm and Ferguson families.


  • 1887-1986, undated


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Elizabeth "Bess" Storm Ferguson was born in Nevada, Iowa, on July 8, 1897. She received her B.S. (1921) in home economics and journalism from Iowa State College (University). As a student at Iowa State, Bess studied journalism, English, sociology, and psychology. She was an active member of several student publications, including the I.S.C. Student and the Iowa Agriculturist, and also founded and was the first editor of the Iowa Homemaker (call no. TX1 Io9), a special interest magazine dedicated to home economics majors.

During her career, Bess achieved a wide variety of accomplishments. She edited journals such as The Journal of Nursery Education and the National Association of Foreign Student Affairs newsletter; she coauthored several books including Charles Atherton Cumming, Iowa's Pioneer Artist-Educator (call no. ND237.C848 F47) and A Century of Home Economics at Iowa State University (call no. TX174.I6 E6x); and she was an Instructor (1969-1971) in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State. Bess was a regular guest on WOI AM-FM radio during Martha Duncan's "Homemaker's Half-Hour" and also appeared on the WOI-TV program "Sixty-Plus." She was very involved with the Octagon Center for the Arts (Ames, Iowa) and wrote her own book, A Careful Writer (call no. PN147.F47x). She received the first Iowa Woman of Achievement Award from Iowa Press Women, Inc. and was the recipient of the Professional Achievement Award in Home Economics from Iowa State and the Alumni Merit Award (1971) from the ISU Alumni Association.

In addition, Bess was also very interested in growing and cooking with herbs. She was a member of several herb societies including the Herb Society of America and she wrote several pieces dealing with cooking and the use and production of herbs.

Fred E. Ferguson was born in 1898 in Laurens, Iowa. He received his B.S. (1922) in animal husbandry and journalism from Iowa State College (University). Following graduation, Fred worked as Field Secretary (1922-1924) for the Iowa State Dairy Association. Fred joined the staff at Iowa State as Publications Editor (1924-1953) for Iowa State and the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station. He, along with his brothers, also managed the family farm.

Fred and Bess met while working together on the Iowa Agriculturist at Iowa State. They were married in 1923 and had four children. Fred died in 1953 and Bess passed away on May 23, 1997.


5.46 Linear Feet (13 document boxes)


Elizabeth "Bess" Storm Ferguson, a 1921 graduate of Iowa State, was a homemaker and journalist. Her husband, Fred, who was a 1922 graduate of Iowa State, was Publications Editor (1924-1953) for Iowa State College (University) and the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station. This collection includes the papers of both Bess and Fred Ferguson and contains biographical information, personal and professional correspondence, professional writings, and farm records. Bess's professional works focus mainly on recipes and food, the aging and elderly, and techniques for writing while Fred's writings discuss agricultural issues. Records for the Ferguson Brothers Farm include correspondence, ledgers, and some blueprints.


The collection is organized into five series:

Series 1, Bess Ferguson Papers, 1916-1984, undated

Series 2, Bess Ferguson Writings and Published Works, 1927-1983, undated

Series 3, Fred Ferguson Papers, 1910-1953, undated

Series 4, Ferguson Brothers' Farm Records, 1887-1951, undated

Series 5, Storm and Ferguson Family Materials, 1897-1983, undated

Items in related collections

RS 13/13. Iowa State University. Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication records

Related collection materials

Copies of Bess Ferguson's books are available in the ISU Library Special Collections Department and can be located by using the library search tool: .

The titles and call numbers for some of her major works are listed above in the biographical note.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 13/13/52. Bess and Fred E. Ferguson papers, 1887-1986, undated
January 23, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672