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Fleeta Brownell Woodroffe papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0406

Scope and Content

This collection (1940-1990, undated) contains biographical information, photographs, and copies of garden articles written by Fleeta B. Woodroffe from her time as a columnist for the Des Moines Register and writer for Better Homes and Gardens. The articles consist of photocopies of over 40 years of published materials, mostly “Your Garden” and “Gardens” columns that originally appeared in the Des Moines Register. The collection also contains copies of her articles that appeared in Better Homes and Gardens spanning over a decade.


  • 1940-1990, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Fleeta Brownell Woodroffe was born May 9, 1894. She graduated from Drake University in 1918. She became well-known as a garden writer and editor. Her first free-lance article was published in the Christian Science Monitor in 1929. She became a regular contributor to Better Homes and Gardens that same year, but also provided free-lance work to a number of publications during this time. She was eventually named garden editor (1942-1959) for Better Homes and Gardens. Woodroffe was also employed by the Des Moines Register as garden writer and editor (1940-1984).

Woodroffe gained a national reputation through her efforts as a garden writer and editor. As a writer, she traveled around the world exploring and writing about new and exotic gardens. As editor, she pushed the use of full-color photographic prints in her magazines at a time when color photographic images were still uncommon. She wrote and supervised the publication of the first edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Garden Book (Meredith Publishing Co., 1951), a publication which sold nearly three million copies in its various revisions and printings. And as a testament to her longevity as a writer her gardening column appeared weekly in the Des Moines Register for 44 years.

Throughout her long career, Woodroffe remained active in gardening activities, clubs, and societies. She served as judge at the New York International Flower Show and patroness at the Chicago Flower Shows. She was a charter member of the Des Moines Garden Club (1921), as well as a member of the American Horticultural Society, the American Rose Society, the American Iris Society, and the Overseas Press Club of America. Woodroffe was awarded an Honorary Membership (1979) from the Garden Writers Association of America. She was the first recipient of the Garden Writers Award (1959) from the American Association of Nurserymen and she received the Gold Honor Award (1966) from the Iowa State Horticultural Society. She was also honored several times over by having varieties of iris, day lily, and hosta named “Fleeta” in her honor.

Woodroffe passed away on February 10, 1990.


7.61 Linear Feet (2 record center cartons and 3 oversized boxes)

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0406. Fleeta Brownell Woodroffe papers, 1940-1990, undated
January 11, 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