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Lou Curtis Foster autograph and photograph album

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RS 21/7/217

Scope and Content

The collection (1875) consists of Lou Curtis Foster’s college autograph and photograph album. The album contains 37 black and white photographs of classmates many of which include inscriptions from them to Lou. Classmates who left messages for Lou include: Charles H. Lee, William R. Lamoreux, Millah, M. Cherrie, Edward P. Cadwell, Hannah P. Lyman, Herbert R. Patrick, Celestia “Settie” A. Neal, Albert P. Chamberlin, Ida Sherman, James M. Whitaker, Thomas L. Palmer, Charles E. Peterson, Nancy Wills, Lucius C. Thornton, Alice Cunningham, Martin E. Rudolph, Ida Ross, Rinaldo P. Kelley, Elizabeth Wilson, and Albert M. Blodget.


  • 1875

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Mary Lizzie Curtis was born to Lyman and Jennett Bennett Curtis on January 22, 1853, near Lexington, Kentucky. When Mary Lizzie was 3 months old, her family left Kentucky and temporarily lived with relatives in Rock Prairie, Wisconsin. Her father purchased a homestead northwest of Independence in Bremer County, Iowa, and spent the next year constructing the house and furnishings while the rest of the family stayed in Wisconsin. The family moved into the house in the spring of 1854.

Mary Lizzie attended Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa, and received her teaching certificate. After a year of teaching at a nearby school, she enrolled at the Iowa Agricultural College (I.A.C., now Iowa State University) in Ames. It was at I.A.C. that she first started being called Lou. While at I.A.C., Lou worked in the kitchen, assisted in the chemical laboratory, and worked in the college library. She received her B.S. (1875) in the ladies course.

She married Luther Foster, an 1872 graduate of I.A.C., back in her hometown of Independence, Iowa, on July 20, 1876. Together they had four daughters: Florence Jennett, Clara Louise, Elizabeth Curtis, and Thora Lute. The family moved west, living in South Dakota, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming where Mr. Foster was engaged in agricultural education work. They settled in Las Cruces, New Mexico, when Mr. Foster became President (1901-1908) of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (New Mexico State University). The Fosters remained in Las Cruces until Luther passed away in 1933. After his death, Lou moved in with her daughter in Glendale, California, until her passing on September 29, 1944.

Lou was an accomplished poet and author. She had two of her poems published in an anthology of contemporary American poets. Lou was also the author of The Autobiography of a Pioneer Girl (Archives call no. F621 F815a) in which she recounts stories of her parents and grandparents as they made their way west from upstate New York, describes growing up on the farm in northeast Iowa, and tells stories of her time as a student at I.A.C.


0.63 Linear Feet (1 photograph box)

Acquisition Information

Provenance: The album was sent to Wallace “Red” Barron of Iowa State by Lou’s daughter, Clara Foster Bacon, in 1952.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 21/7/217. Lou Curtis Foster autograph and photograph album, 1875
January 22, 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