Bertha Maude Horack Shambaugh (1871-1953) was born in Cedar Rapids, IA and attended the University of Iowa from 1889 to 1896. She taught natural science at Iowa City High School from 1892 until 1897—the year she married her husband Benjamin Shambaugh (1871-1940). Benjamin Shambaugh was a professor at the University of Iowa from 1896 to 1940 and superintendent at the State Historical Society of Iowa for almost as long. Bertha Shambaugh was a historian in her own right; she gave several speeches throughout her lifetime and wrote extensive histories of the Amana colonies titled: Amana: The Colony of True Inspiration (1908) and Amana That Was and Amana That Is (1933). The Shambaughs often acted as hosts for visiting scholars and were very involved in the university community. Bertha maintained a record of their daily meals and parties in her House Books which contain letters, notes, telegrams, and photographs.
I found the scrapbooks from Bertha Shambaugh’s teens incredibly charming. Created sometime in the 1880s, the scrapbooks are a collection of valentines, cards, and dried flowers. To me, the scrapbooks indicate a predisposition to keeping records anticipating her House Books. I love how vivid all of the colors are and that cards with parrots were apparently a fad! And that someone 135 years earlier also collected images of gnomes and silly mustaches!
This week Women’s History Wednesday channels Miniature Monday with these playing cards from the Ruth Salzmann Becker papers. The Salzmann family fled Nazi Germany, Ruth leaving at age seventeen in 1939 and traveling to the United States by way of England. She eventually reunited with her parents and younger sister, who came to the United States via Cuba.
We’ve featured the German/English recipe book from the Becker papers before, and these miniature playing cards show what a wide range of materials can exist in a single collection.
Ruth Salzmann Becker papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.