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Homer H. Seerley Papers

Identifier: 02/02/01

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily consists of Seerley's incoming and outgoing correspondence. The correspondence is a mix of both bound volumes and loose leaf papers. It covers a wide variety of subjects, including the administrative functioning of the school, commentary on social issues, and matters concerning World War I. The collection also includes reports and speeches given by Seerley. In addition to the original materials, Special Collections & University Archives has a card catalog for the Seerley papers, indexed to the item-level. For example, correspondence has been indexed by subject and correspondent, allowing patrons to identify a subject and connect it to a specific letter. For questions about or access to the card catalog, please contact for assistance.


  • 1888-1999


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions. Materials are open for research.

General Use, Reproduction, and Copyright Policies

Many items housed in the Rod Library Special Collections & University Archives, including unpublished images and manuscripts, may be protected by copyright, publication rights, trademarks, or model release rights which the library does not own and for which the library cannot grant permission or licensing. Materials currently under copyright are usually still available for research and limited reproduction under Fair Use laws. However, it is the sole responsibility of the patron to determine whether or not their use of a given material falls within Fair Use guidelines and to obtain permission for said use from the rightful copyright owner. If you are unsure where to begin, please consult the Copyright LibGuide. Please note that it is not the library's responsibility to locate or contact copyright holders for a patron, and neither the library nor library employees are responsible for copyright violations of the materials to which they facilitate research access.

Please see our full General Use and Service Policies for more information.

Sensitive Materials Statement

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy or similar laws, and the Iowa Open Records Law (see Iowa Code § 22.7). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Northern Iowa assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

Homer H. Seerley served as the University of Northern Iowa's (then the Iowa State Normal School / Iowa State Teacher's College) second president from 1886 to 1928. He was born in 1848 in Indiana, before moving to Iowa at a young age. He received his Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1873 from State University of Iowa, his Bachelor of Didactics in 1875, and his Master of Arts in 1876. Seerley was later awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa (1898) and the State University of Iowa (1901). Though starting his educational career with the intent of becoming an engineer, Seerley later decided to pursue a teaching career. He was Assistant Principal at Oskaloosa High School in 1873, principal in 1874, and Superintendent of Schools in 1875, before coming to the Iowa State Normal School (ISNS) in 1886. His initial title was “principal” before it was changed to “president” in 1887. Many changes occurred at ISNC/ISTC during Seerley’s 42 year presidency. Upon his arrival, the campus consisted of Central Hall, a two-story building, and South Hall. Under his leadership, a variety of buildings were constructed, including the Administration Building (1895), the Women’s Gymnasium (1903), the Science Building (1906), and the library (1907), among others. Also during his tenure, the Iowa State Normal School’s name was changed to the Iowa State Teachers College. Seerley additionally oversaw the reconfiguring of the institution’s educational program in order to better ensure that its students were on “equal par with graduates of other colleges.” This included adding faculty and working to create a high school accreditation program. The college also became a four year school under Seerley and its organizational structure changed, with the creation of a departmental system and faculty receiving the title of “professor.” Seerley was “considered the foremost educational statesman in the history of Iowa” (Lilledahl) and his educational expertise, particularly in the areas of education courses and teacher-training, was sought after at both the state and national level. He was involved in a variety of organizations, including the Iowa State Teachers Association, the National Education Association, the National Council of Education, and more. Seerley also authored the books History of Civil Government (1897), The County School (1912), and Geography of Iowa (1916). Seerley and his wife, Clara, had three children. He retired in 1928 and passed away in 1932. UNI’s Seerley Hall is named in his honor.


65.30 Linear Feet (146 boxes and 1 oversize folder)


The collection is arranged according to an earlier organizational schema, devised either by previous Special Collections staff or by the collection donor. It is arranged chronologically within these broader categories:

  • Correspondence from H.H.S.
  • Official Correspondence Received by H.H.S.
  • Board of Education
  • Copies of Correspondence Addresses and Reports
  • Newspaper Clipping Scrapbooks

  • Note that the collection inventory provides greater insight into this arrangement.


    Processing Information

    Finding aid created by Archival Processor Tessa Wakefield and Student Assistant Katie Currier, September 2020. Updated by Tessa Wakefield, October 2021.

    Homer H. Seerley Papers
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script

    Repository Details

    Part of the University Archives Repository