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Frederic Leopold papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0113

Scope and Content

This collection (1885-1988, undated) contains biographical information, news clippings, wood duck nesting studies, journals, correspondence, publications, writings, and photographs. Leopold's work with wood ducks can be found throughout the collection, including his correspondence, presentations, publications, writings, reminiscences, wood duck records, and photographs. Most of the collection documents Leopold's conservation efforts, wood duck activities, and travels. There are also a number of materials related to his brother Aldo Leopold.

The writings contain both drafts and publications written by Frederic Leopold. Other than his writings and publications on wood ducks, much of Frederic Leopold's writings are autobiographical. The materials listed under publications are not authored by Frederic Leopold, but contain writings by friends and acquaintances and publications on subjects in which Leopold was interested. Included in the publications are a selection of writings by his brother, Aldo Leopold, and other family members.

Leopold kept very detailed records, as can be seen both in his wood duck nesting records (1939-1978) and journals. The journals document both his hunting and family trips, and often include descriptions of the landscape, animals, farming and crops seen along the way.

Photographs within the collection include a few of Leopold and his family, but most of the photographs are of the nesting wood ducks and the ducklings leaving the safety of their nests. Some photographs can also be found within a few of his hunting and travel journals.

The correspondence contains letters from a wide variety of people, including friends and family, and on a variety of topics. Most of the correspondence concerns conservation, his wood duck studies and presentations, and travels. Some of the correspondence includes letters thanking Leopold for his presentations. A number often mention his brother Aldo Leopold.

Included in the collection are several folders of materials on the Leopold family, including the Starker family (his mother Clara's family). Information on the Leopold family can also be found in the Aldo Leopold Tribute materials.


  • 1885-1988, undated

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Frederic Leopold was born June 16, 1895 to Clara and Carl Leopold. Frederic grew up in Burlington, Iowa with his two brothers, Aldo and Carl, and sister Marie. He received his education at The Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, New Jersey) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After serving in World War I (1917-1919) as a first lieutenant of engineers, he entered (1919) the family office furniture business.

Frederic, as vice president, helped run the Leopold Desk Company with his brother Carl who served as president. Frederic later became president of the company, and retired in 1970. During and after Frederic Leopold's time at the Leopold Desk Company, the company changed its name to Leopold Company (1937), was acquired by Litton Industries (1965), and Litton Industries merged Leopold with Lehigh (1980). Lehigh-Leopold was sold to Joyce International (1984) and eventually the company ceased operations on March 3, 1990

Like his brother Aldo, Frederic Leopold was very active in conservation efforts and wildlife ecology. During the 1930s, Frederic became concerned about the survival of the wood duck, which was close to extinction in the early part of the 20th century. His brother Aldo put him in touch with one of his graduate students, Arthur Hawkins, who got him started designing houses for wood ducks. In addition to developing a design for wood duck houses, Frederic conducted extensive studies on their mating and nesting habits. Many of these studies were done in his own back yard in Burlington, overlooking the Mississippi River and its bluffs.

Leopold held memberships in a variety of organizations, including the Rotary Club, Burlington Chamber of Commerce and the Crystal Lake Club. Leopold was the third generation of the family to be a member of the Crystal Lake Club, located nearby across the Mississippi River in Illinois. Leopold led several efforts to preserve the club's natural forests and prairies from development.

Leopold received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctor of Science from Iowa Wesleyan College (undated); the Iowa Wildlife Conservation Award (1966); the Iowa Academy of Science Centennial Citation (1975); and the Ducks Unlimited Conservation Service Award (1981).

Frederic Leopold died March 29, 1989.


6.76 Linear Feet (13 document boxes, 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials



The collection is organized Alphabetically by Topic.

Items in related collections

MS-0589. Walter M. Rosene, Sr. papers, 1871-2008, undated MS-0153. Philip A. DuMont papers, 1868-1981, undated MS-0166. Iowa Ornithologists’ Union records, 1819-2012 MS-0052. Iowa Academy of Science records, 1875-2012

Related collection materials

Related collections in the Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library include:

Paul Lester Errington Papers (RS 13/25/51)

Related collections in other repositories include:

Letters from the collection of Frederick Leopold, Burlington, Iowa (Burlington Public Library)

Leopold Desk Company Records, MsC 209 (University of Iowa's Special Collections Department). Portions of the collection are available online:

Aldo Leopold Papers, Record Series 9/25/10 (University of Wisconsin-Madison's University Archives). These are also available online:

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0113. Frederic Leopold papers, 1885-1988, undated
December 12, 2018
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