Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Daniel C. Robinson

Second Advisor

Jackie M. Blount


Eleanor's story is oral history biographical narrative research about the remarkable life of an 81-year old African American woman who was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. The study is rich with primary document artifacts from Eleanor Rebecca Powell Archer's personal collection. Primary documents are interspersed within the chapters and in three galleries. Fourteen interviews averaging two and one-half hours in length each were conducted over one year's time.;The Introduction provides a historical overview of the State of Iowa and sets the context for the state into which Eleanor's ancestors migrated and settled. The prevailing climate and attitudes about African Americans in the territory and the state are discussed. Laws and legislation are featured that directed the course of living and education for African Americans in Iowa.;The Preface addresses the literature review, questions investigated, methodology, interpretation and analysis, and rationale and significance of the research.;Chapter contents address Eleanor's ancestors and their origins to the extent that they are known; Eleanor's experiences growing up in Des Moines, her K--12 experiences, as well as her experiences within her community and with her family; Eleanor's experiences as an undergraduate student at Iowa State College from 1936--1941; Eleanor's early professional and teaching experiences; Eleanor's marriage, travel during that time, her children, and her early years as a schoolteacher; Eleanor's life as a schoolteacher in Des Moines; and Eleanor's retirement years and activities.;The Conclusion provides interpretation and analysis through the dual lenses of Critical Race Theory and Black Feminist Thought of Eleanor's life as an African American woman who never sought to teach school, but whose career was dictated by her race and gender. More primary document research is brought to bear in responding to the question, "Have things really changed for Blacks in Iowa?" Implications of the study and questions inviting further investigation complete the Conclusion. A Bibliography listing all resources concludes the manuscript. Endnotes follow each chapter and also identify resource listings.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Kay Ann Taylor



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

237 pages