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Betty Toman papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 10/7/51

Scope and Content

The collection (1930-2010, undated) documents Professor Toman’s professional life and includes correspondence, news clippings, published articles, and photographs. Materials relating to dance performances at Iowa State University by student groups and guest performers are also found in the collection.

The papers include biographical material and correspondence with professional colleagues. The range of Professor Toman’s activities is illustrated by materials relating to performances and professional writings, as well as by teaching files and files about professional organizations.

Other materials in the collection include files relating to grants and materials about teachers and former students of Professor Toman.


  • 1930-2010, undated

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Betty LaVergne Toman was born June 23, 1926 in Oak Park, Illinois. At the age of 3 she started to dance and a year later, she began dancing professionally; highlights included an appearance at the 1932 World’s Fair in Chicago, when she was 8 years old.

Professor Toman graduated from Morton High School in Cicero, Illinois. She received a B.A. (1948) in Physical Education (Dance) from the University of Wisconsin, where she studied under Margaret H’Doubler, credited as the creator of dance education. She received her M.S. (1957) from Iowa State College (University).

The Head of the Department of Physical Education for Women, Germaine G. Guiot, brought her to Iowa State College (University), as a dance instructor (1948-1952). She was Assistant Professor (1952-1957), Associate Professor (1957-1964) and Professor and Dance Coordinator (1964-1988) in the Department of Physical Education. Professor Toman was named Distinguished Professor (1984). In 1988, she became Distinguished Emeritus Professor.

Although dance was first taught in 1928 at Iowa State, Professor Toman developed and implemented all aspects of the dance program, and accomplished her goal of creating a dance option major in the Department of Physical Education in 1966. She became synonymous with the modern dance concert Barjche (pronounced bar-shay). Barjche’s name is from combined the first few letter of three students who presented the first concert (1944): Barbara Sgarlat Drexler, Charlotte Ann Stuart, and Jean Ringoen Williams. Under Professor Toman’s 22-year direction, Barjche evolved to utilize the talents of students in three departments: theater, dance, and music. She also was the Director of the Iowa State University Dance Tour Company, and advisor to the dancers of Stars Over VEISHEA, Iowa State University’s student-run festival theather production. She also advised Orchesis, a dance club that was originally formed in 1926 and took its current name the year Professor Toman took over as advisor (1965). Later, Professor Toman developed Orchesis II. As an additional program to the original Orchesis, it allows more students of varying dance skills to participate in a dance concert.

Professor Toman served in leadership positions in several national organizations, including: National Dance Association (NDA); American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (AAHPER); Iowa Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (IAHPER).

Professor Toman wrote and presented extensively for professional publications and schools, and co-directed four films on movement and design. Her major choreographic works include: Mitosis, Opus 24, Through the AgesEL, The Last Dance, In the Beginning, Operation Jazz, A Motherless Child, and Dream World.

Professor Toman served on four major Iowa State University committees: Focus, 1974-1977; Public Events Committee, 1974-1988; Alvin Edgar Fund for Performing Arts, 1974-1988; and the Resident Review Committee, 1982-1988.

Professor Toman received numerous awards, including the Honor Award by the Iowa Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (IAHPER) in 1967 and Outstanding Professor by Iowa State in 1969. In 1972, the Iowa State Alumni Association awarded her with a Faculty Citation. She is also listed in both Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who of Women in Education.

Many professional dancers and instructors were her students, including Stephen Pier, Valerie Williams (who created Dance Co’Motion, Ames, Iowa), Vernon Windsor, the late Pete Pedersen, Nancy Moses, Marcia McGinnis, Paul Zmolek, and Robert Wechsler.


1.68 Linear Feet (4 document boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is organized into eleven series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1931-2010, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1948-1988, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 3: Articles, Panel Discussion, Papers, Theatre Appearances, Student Essays, 1945-1995, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 4: Coursework, Teaching and Related Items, 1956-1988, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 5: Grants, 1972-1985, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 6: Iowa State Dance Groups, 1949-1996, undated (arranged alphabetically)

Series 7: Professional Organizations, 1959-1989, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 8: Teachers, 1945-1986, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 9: Guest Performers, 1939-1986, undated (arranged alphabetically)

Series 10: Former Students, 1978-2002, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 11: Photographs, 1930-1990, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 12: Betty Toman Films, 1973-1978, undated (arranged chronologically)

Series 13: Artifacts 1950-1997, undated (arranged by artifact number)

Items in related collections

RS 10/7. Iowa State University. Department of Kinesiology records, 1902-2013

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 10/7/51. Betty Toman papers, 1930-2010, undated
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