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Francis L. Messerly papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0143

Scope and Content

The collection (1967-1984, undated) contains correspondence, publications, reports, articles, news clippings, speeches and biographical information. Except for the biographical information, the collection consists of documents from his service as a Representative and Senator in the Iowa General Assembly. The majority of the collection contains records related to Iowa universities (the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa), including the years of campus unrest (circa 1967-1971). Topics include faculty tenure and academic freedom, expenditures, and student protests. There are also a few files related to various other legislative affairs such as health care and the capitol preservation.


  • Creation: 1967-1984, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Francis L. Messerly was born on April 21, 1915 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He attended public school in Cedar Falls and graduated from high school in Finchford, Iowa. After graduation, Messerly operated a general merchandise business for ten years and then became a building contractor.

Messerly was a Republican member of both the Iowa General Assembly's House and Senate. He was in the Iowa House of Representatives' 59th and 60th General Assembly (1961-1964) and the 60th Extra General Assembly (special session to plan reapportionment), representing the 32nd Senate District in Black Hawk County, Iowa. He then served in the 61st-64th General Assemblies (1965-1972) in the Iowa Senate. Messerly was chairman of the Appropriations Committee and vice chairman of the Budget and Financial Control Committee. As a legislator, Messerly was a leader in the reform of Iowa's criminal justice system by introducing legislation that allowed work release for county jail prisoners and a reformed meal system. Messerly also became involved with the Iowa universities during the campus unrest years of the Vietnam War era (circa 1967-1971), the Edward Hoffmans affair at the University of Northern Iowa (Hoffmans was against the student draft), and the reorganization of the School of Journalism at the University of Iowa. Messerly was critical of the student riots, campus "radicals," university employees sympathetic to the student unrest, and the universities' use of public funds.

After his service in the Iowa House of Representatives and Senate, Messerly continued his involvement in community and political affairs. He served several terms on the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors and worked with the First Judicial District Board to secure funding for community based corrections facilities. In 1972 he was appointed by then Governor Robert Ray to the Iowa Building Code Council, and as a member of the Board of the Third Judicial District Department of Corrections.

Messerly married Mary Hamlin and was the father of a daughter, Carol, and a son, Randy. Messerly died October 8, 1994.


1.05 Linear Feet (2 document boxes and 1 half-document box )


The collection has been organized into five sections: Iowa Universities, Campus Unrest, University of Iowa School of Journalism, State Legislative Affairs, and Biographical Information.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0143. Francis L. Messerly papers, 1967-1984, 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