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Martin Lawrence and Dorothy Sweet Grant Papers

Record Series: 

Martin L. Grant (1907-1968) and Dorothy S. Grant (1905-2006). Papers, 1925-1993.

Archives Record Series: 15/02/21.  6.25 linear feet.


Martin Lawrence Grant

Martin Lawrence Grant was born January 31, 1907, in Chelsea, Michigan. He received a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College in 1927. He received a master's degree in 1929 and doctoral degree in 1936 from the University of Minnesota. His master's thesis was Plant succession and climax in northern Minnesota; his doctoral dissertation was Flora of the Society Islands.

Professor Grant joined the Science Department at the Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) in September 1936. He taught botany, zoology, taxonomy, the history and philosophy of science, and many other courses. He was an active participant in debates on controversial issues of his day including faculty rights and governance, matters relating to retirement benefits, general education, and religion on campus.

Professor Grant published articles and conducted research in the areas of plant communities, ornithology, and nature study. He traveled widely in the United States and abroad, including major research trips to the Society Islands, Colombia, and Iran. He was an avid collector of herbarium specimens and magazines from around the world.

Martin Grant married Dorothy Sweet Grant in 1930. They had three children: Gordon, Jean, and Lois. Martin Grant died June 28, 1968.

Dorothy Sweet Grant

Dorothy Sweet Grant was born November 3, 1905, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated from college and taught school in the Minneapolis area.

Dorothy Sweet married Martin Grant in 1930. She accompanied and assisted him in his field work. Some of her most important work included organizing and typing field notes and preparing herbarium specimens. She died in 2006.

The Grants were co-founders of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Cedar Falls. Dorothy Grant published accounts of her personal religious pursuits as well as a history of the local Unitarian Universalist Association group. Her account of the Cedar Falls Supper Club includes good information about UNI faculty members, such as James Hearst.


Dorothy Grant


In 1994, most of the Grant papers were transferred to the University of Northern Iowa Archives by the UNI Department of Biology, where they had apparently been housed since Martin Grant's death in 1968. Although the papers had been jumbled when they were packed into an assortment of shipping boxes, the outline of the original order of the papers was still apparent when they arrived in Special Collections.

Several times in the 1980s and 1990s Dorothy Grant independently contributed significant items to Special Collections, including her own publications and her edition of Martin Grant's field notes from the Society Islands, Colombia, and Hawaii. The processor decided to combine the papers of Dorothy and Martin Grant into one collection, because their personal and professional lives were so closely intertwined.

The collection is organized into four sections which almost certainly reflect their original order: (1) Personal, education, and research; (2) Campus activity files; (3) Curricular material associated with teaching and research at the University of Minnesota; and (4) Curricular material associated with teaching and research at UNI.

(1) The personal, education, and research section gives a good look at the personal and professional lives and accomplishments of Martin and Dorothy Grant. This material is especially good at giving a picture of faculty life in Cedar Falls from the 1930s through the 1950s.

(2) The campus activity files reveal the broad range of activities in which the Grants were involved including: the Academic Year Institutes in the late 1950s and 1960s; campus social and extracurricular groups; and faculty governance. The files consist of correspondence, schedules, promotional material, and clippings.

(3) and (4) The curricular material is an excellent source for information on the teaching of science at UNI from the 1930s through the 1960s. It includes extensive class notes, examinations, course outlines, clippings, and illustrative material used by Martin Grant (3) first at Minnesota and (4) then at UNI. It might be studied to good advantage with material from his Science Department colleagues Pauline Sauer and Ben Clausen to document the UNI life science curriculum for over fifty years.

Container Inventory

Box 1

(1) Personal; Education; Publications

Biographical information with news releases and clippings about Martin Grant's personal and professional interests including his magazine collection, religion, and politics

Personnel file: Martin Grant's UNI faculty record sheet, employment correspondence, and obituary

Papers and notes from Martin Grant's undergraduate and graduate education including: Dante Alighieri and Ornithology (1925); Biogeography of the United States (1927); Ecological Anatomy drawings; a General Botany notebook; Grant's M.A. examination and thesis; Grant's Ph.D. written examination

Martin Grant's publications, manuscripts, and other writing including: an inventory of publications and photographs; diary entries for 1945-1948; a collection of humorous material; miscellaneous manuscripts and writing; publication reprints

Field Natural History Northwest Tour, 1955: extensive notes, lists, student reports, and itinerary of this summer class expedition

Iran trip: curricular material, notes, maps relating to the Grants' Fulbright Scholar trip to Iran, 1963-1965

Tupai Atoll, Society Islands--notes, photos on ecology of area

Dorothy Grant's publications including A Lay-Woman's Unitarian World, A Religious Journey, and The Supper Club of Cedar Falls. All of these works are excellent sources of information about life in Cedar Falls, especially in the college community, from the 1930s through the 1990s. UNI people are featured in these publications. There is also a newspaper article about Dorothy Grant in which she recounts physical and emotional abuse in her domestic life. In August 1997, additional publications were added to the collection including Universalism in Iowa, The Unitarian Universalist Society of Black Hawk County, and Plant Collecting in Iran. In My Norwegian Heritage, Dorothy Grant outlines her family's genealogy. Also included were six transcripts of talks she gave during the 1992 Centennial of Ruth Suckow, and a biography of Suckow's husband Ferner Nuhn.

Holiday letters, scattered years, 1945-1962: includes news about the Grant family, their travels, and their accomplishments

Botanical journals for expeditions to the Society Islands, Hawaii, and Colombia along with an introduction, photos, and notes on Iran by Dorothy Grant: edited and distributed by Dorothy Grant in 1986


(2) Campus Activity Files--Arranged alphabetically by folder title with the exception of the first "Miscellaneous" folder; nearly all folder titles come directly from Martin Grant's original folders; no folders after the letter N in this sequence were found in the collection when it was transferred to Special Collections

Miscellaneous: clippings and memos relating to a variety of campus topics and activities such as the bookstore, the film club, the dance club, and commencement

Academic Year Institute, 1958-1968: proposals, brochures, correspondence, clippings, and reports on this program funded by the National Science Foundation; Martin Grant participated most years

Box 2

Berg Science Seminars; Business Office; Certification--State DPI; College Clipping File: General, Science Department, Personal, Faculty Biographical; College Relations; Colombia Exchange; Conservation Camp; Dean of Students; Dean of the Faculty; Education; Education Associations; Educational Policies Commission; Examinations; Faculty and Administrative Reorganization; Faculty Appointment, Promotion, and Dismissal; Faculty Insurance; Faculty Personnel Committee; Faculty Qualifications; Faculty Research Groups; Faculty Retirement Plans; Faculty Sabbaticals (PDLs); Faculty Salaries; Faculty Subjects and Concerns; Faculty Teaching Loads; Foreign Studies; Foreign Languages; Foundation (ISTC and SCI); General Education; Honors Programs and Seminars; Interinstitutional Biology Committee; Iowa Academy of Science; Iowa Lakeside Laboratory; Iowa State Conservation Commission; Iranian Visitors, 1965; Library; Literature and Language Department; National Science Foundation--Summer Institutes

Box 3

(3) Curricular material primarily associated with teaching at the University of Minnesota, though there is some later material present; these files consist of notes, course outlines, examinations, and teaching aids

Algae; Angiospermae; Bacteriology; Botany; Bryophyta; Cinchoneae; Compositae; Dicotyledonae; Ecology; Fungi; Gymnospermae; Histology; Monocotyledonae; Phytogeography; Plant Morphology; Pteridophyta; Rhodora; Taxonomy; Zoology

(4) Curricular material associated with teaching science at UNI; the material includes notes, course outlines, examinations, and teaching aids

Agenda; Animal Biology; Arthropoda; Biology; Biometry

Box 4

Birds; Botany; Ecology; Entomology; Examinations: Biology, Botany, Science, Genetics, Evolution, Zoology; Field Zoology; General Botany; General Education; General Examinations; Genetics; Health Education and Human Biology; History and Philosophy of Science

Box 5

Invertebrate Zoology; Laboratory Outlines; Mammals; Nature of Science; Paleontology; Physiology; Plant Biology; Plant Ecology; Plant Physiology; Plant Systematics; Plant Taxonomy; Plants; Polynesia; Protozoa; Rain Forests; Science; Science Teaching; Sequoia Taxonomy; Sex Education; Survey of Biological Sciences; Survey of Physical Sciences; Tahiti; Taxonomy; Trees; Vertebrates; Zoology

Papers processed and finding aid prepared by Gerald L. Peterson, Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist, March-April, 1996. Addition to collection processed August 1997. Updated April 2017 (dh). Linear feet updated on September 15, 2017.

Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives 
University of Northern Iowa 
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613-3675 
Telephone: (319)-273-7295
Fax: (319)-273-2913 


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