Skip to main content

Bessie Gerstenberger papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 21/7/106

Scope and Content

This collection (1936-2001, undated) contains materials that document Gerstenberger’s education, teaching, and her involvement in physical education for the handicapped, Senior Health Insurance Information Program, Leisurecraft and Counseling Camp, and Toastmasters International. The papers include reports, course materials, correspondence, and speeches. The collection also contains drafts and notes for Gerstenberger’s doctoral dissertation entitled, A Study of Dimensions of Administrative Leader Behavior and Its Relationship to Situational Variables in the Departments of Professional Recreation Education in Colleges and Universities, which she wrote while a graduate student at the University of Illinois.


  • 1936-2001, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Bessie Keeney Gerstenberger earned a B.S. (1937) in Zoology from Iowa State College (University), an M.A. (1941) in Health and Physical Education Administration from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. (1972) from the University of Illinois.

During World War II she worked as a social worker with families and military personnel in Columbus, Georgia; Burlington, Iowa; and Junction City, Kansas. In addition, she worked various scientific jobs, including work as a company inspector of the detonator line at the Iowa Ordnance Plant in Burlington, Iowa; a chemist at the Bluebonnet Ordnance Plant in McGregor, Texas; and a laboratory technician at the University of Illinois.

Following the war, Gerstenberger focused her career on education and recreation. She worked for the Iowa State University Extension Service as a State Health and 4-H Radio Specialist, and she developed curriculum in health, physical education, and recreation for school districts in Iowa. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, she held a variety of jobs as a private recreation consultant, an instructor for the YWCA in Des Moines, and an instructor of Women’s Physical Education at Drake University. In 1967, Gerstenberger began work on her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, where she also taught courses in recreation and physical education.

After earning her Ph.D. (1972), Gerstenberger became the State Educational Coordinator for the Iowa Office of Planning and Programming. She then worked in a variety of positions for the Department of Public Instruction. While there, she promoted programs for physical education for the handicapped, the use of computers in education, and health education.

In addition to her professional activities, Gerstenberger was active with Toastmasters International, a public speaking organization, as well as other civic and volunteer groups.


9.03 Linear Feet (21 document boxes and 1 half-document box)


This collection is arranged into eight series:

Series 1, Physical Education for the Handicapped (1976-1981)

Series 2, Professional Development (1958-1987, undated)

Series 3, Courses (1969-1972, undated)

Series 4, Leisurecraft and Counseling Camp (1951-1975)

Series 5, Ephemera (1936-1983, undated)

Series 6, Dissertation Materials (1971-1973, undated)

Series 7: Toast Masters International (1943-2000)

Series 8: Senior Health Insurance Information Program (1991-2001, undated)

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 21/7/106. Bessie Gerstenberger papers, 1936-2001, undated
January 15, 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