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Betty Lou Varnum papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 5/6/53

Scope and Content

This collection (1955-1993, undated) contains biographical information, correspondence, program notes, Iowa State Fair programs, VEISHEA programs, photographs, and Varnum’s history as a personality at WOI-TV.

Dates

  • 1955-1993, undated

Language of Materials

English

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives

Biography/Profile

Betty Lou McVay Varnum was born on May 3, 1931, in Chicago, Illinois. She received her B.A. (1953) in psychology with a minor in English literature from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in education (1954) from Wisconsin State College. After graduating, Varnum took a job teaching literature and speech in Port Washington, Wisconsin. In 1954 she began working at WOI-TV. Two days after she was hired, Varnum became the host of the children's program, "The Magic Window."



Later in her career, Varnum tackled current affairs programming. She hosted "Dimension 5," which addressed contentious subjects such as women’s rights and gay and lesbian rights, and "Status 6," a program that addressed the struggles of the handicapped in Iowa. Varnum also conceived and hosted "Stringers Newscast" in the mid-1970s, which featured film shorts and animations produced by the viewing public.



Varnum was the television announcer for numerous Iowa State Fair parades in Des Moines and VEISHEA parades at Iowa State University. She retired from WOI-TV in 1994. Varnum was widely recognized for her pioneering role as a woman in early television. She received the McCall’s Golden Mike Award for Women in Radio and Television and the Public Media Award from the American Psychological Association.



Varnum married James (Red) Varnum, an employee at WOI-TV, in 1959 and they had three children.

Extent

2.52 Linear Feet (6 document boxes)

Abstract

Betty Lou Varnum was a TV personality at WOI-TV in central Iowa. She began her career in 1954 as host of a program for children, "The Magic Window." She also hosted other WOI-TV programs "Dimension 5," "Status 6," and "Stringer’s Newscast." Varnum was an announcer for a number of televised VEISHEA parades at Iowa State University and Iowa State Fair parades in Des Moines, Iowa. She retired from WOI-TV in 1994. This collection contains biographical information, correspondence, program notes, Iowa State Fair programs, VEISHEA programs, and photographs.

Arrangement

The collection is organized Alphabetically by topic.

Items in related collections

RS 5/6. Iowa State University. WOI Radio and Television records, 1911-2012, undated

Related collection materials

Related collections in the Special Collections Department include:

•WOI television programs with Betty Lou McVay Varnum as host; found by searching the Department's film and videotape listings

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

Title
RS 5/6/53. Betty Lou Varnum papers, 1955-1993, undated
Date
January 22, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Contact:
403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672