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University of Iowa News Release


June 12, 2007

Audio Slideshow: Jen Wolfe, metadata librarian for Digital Library Services,  describes the University of Iowa Libraries’ collection of memorabilia about Mildred Wirt Benson, original author of the Nancy Drew mystery series. Large (36MB) | Medium (29MB) | Small (27MB)

UI Libraries Compiles Digital Collection Featuring Nancy Drew Author

Since its debut in 1930, the Nancy Drew series penned by University of Iowa alumna Mildred Wirt Benson has inspired numerous movie and television adaptations. The latest film version, "Nancy Drew: The Mystery in Hollywood Hills," brings the timeless heroine to Los Angeles, where she is faced with a new trendy school and a new mystery.

The University of Iowa Libraries is marking the June 15 opening of the movie by gathering the scrapbooks, correspondence, rare photographs and early writings of Mildred Wirt Benson in a single digitized collection at

Benson, a UI Distinguished Alumna and Journalism Hall of Fame inductee, donated her personal papers to the Iowa Women's Archives in 1992 and subsequent years until her death in 2002. These materials, along with artifacts from the Special Collections Department and the University Archives, form the bulk of the online collection, created by the Digital Library Services department for the Iowa Digital Library web site.

"The Mildred Wirt Benson Papers were among the first collections donated to the Iowa Women's Archives when it opened, and they've been a favorite of school girls and grown-up Nancy Drew fans ever since," says Kären Mason, curator of the Iowa Women's Archives. "Benson's University of Iowa memory book is especially charming, but it's great that the online collection also illuminates her lifelong career as a journalist, and lets fans around the world glimpse the spunky Iowan who wrote the early Nancy Drew novels."

Benson wrote the first Nancy Drew novel in 1930 under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. She went on to complete nearly two dozen more titles in what has become one of the most successful children's book series ever. Her books have sold over 200 million copies, receiving translation into 25 languages.

With Nancy Drew's status as an iconic figure in American popular culture, Benson has been the subject of research by scholars of women's history, children's literature and American studies. The UI Libraries' archives have been consulted for numerous publications, most recently Melanie Rehak's Edgar-award-winning biography "Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her" (Harcourt Press, 2005).

The UI's rare and unique materials on Benson are physically scattered throughout the libraries' holdings. In the past, researchers have had to consult separate catalogs, inventories and indexes in several different library departments. "By gathering these materials together and making them available online, UI Libraries is performing a valuable service not only for scholars, but also for millions of Nancy Drew fans worldwide," says Jen Wolfe, metadata librarian for Digital Library Services.

To view more digital collections created from the UI Libraries' archives, visit the Iowa Digital Library web site at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,; Program: Kristi Bontrager, Public Relations Coordinator, University of Iowa Libraries, 319-335-5960; Carolyn Dyer, 319-335-3415; Writers: Jen Wolfe and Lindsey Tinnell