History of the RSMA

About Us (The Ruth Suckow Memorial Association)

The Ruth Suckow Memorial Association was founded in April of 1966--six years after her death--to develop "appropriate memorials to the late Ruth Suckow and to further a literary and educational interest in her works." Suckow's husband, Ferner Nuhn, and his second wife Georgia (shown below) gathered a few of her friends from the Earlville area, where Ruth and Ferner had first met, and the official name of the organization has Earlville in its title.

ferner and georgia

Ferner and Georgeanna (Georgia)

The First Board of Directors included: Ray Bush, Letha Ham, GeraldFaust, Alice Jackson, Dean Kittleson, James Clifton, Ferner Nuhn and Georgeanna Dafoe Nuhn.

The First Officers were: Ray Bush, President; Letha Ham, Vice President; and Lois Hunt, Secretary/Treasurer.

To accomplish its goals, members of the Association gather once a year, each June, to reflect on one of Suckow's works and to update the group on our various projects, such as the restoration of the Suckow birthplace in Hawarden, the maintenance of the Suckow Park in Earlville, ongoing efforts to gather more of her books for use by book clubs and educators, the website and blog.

dedication of suckow park

Ferner, Georgia, and niece Barbara at the dedication of the Park.

The Association publishes the annual Ruth Suckow Newsletter, and in 1982 established the Ruth Suckow Park in Earlville, Iowa, at the site of Suckow's former Earlville home. This public Park contains a shelter, picnic tables, and a memorial stone and engraving which states:

"Ruth Suckow, famed Iowa author, established herself as a writer while living in Earlville 1920-1926. She earned a living by operating an apiary. She lived in a white house on this site 1925-1926."

early leaders

Early leaders of the RSMA included a number of scholars, such as Clarence Andrews (blue suit) and Leedice Kissane, shown here on a panel in 1982 with Ferner (back row, right). Andrews was a College Professor who wrote a book on the Literary History of Iowa, and it included a chapter about Ruth Suckow. Kissane was also a College Professor and wrote a book about Ruth Suckow's life and work asa part of the Twayne's United States Authors Series.

sara and george
Suckow gathering
meeting ine arlville

Sara McAlpin, Secretary visits with George Day, former President & long time member

A gathering in the 1980s: Terry and Letha Walters are here as is Clarence Andrews and Sara McAlpin. If you can identify others, please contact Cherie.

Annual Meeting in the Suckow Library/Community Center in Earlville, 2005

Here are some pictures of the Ruth Suckow Park in Earlville, showing the shelter house, the engraving, and flowers; President Barbara Lounsberry and Vice President Mike Dargan pose by the engraved sign that tells visitors about Suckow's life and work.

The engraved sign in the Ruth Suckow Park, Earlville, Iowa.

The Ruth Suckow Park in Earlville, established 1982

Barbara Lounsberry and Michael Dargan pose by the engraved sign honoring Ruth Suckow

The engraved sign reads: "Ruth Suckow, famed Iowa author, established herself as a writer while living in Earlville 1920-1928. She earned a living by operating an apiary. She lived in a White house on this site 1925-1928."

Erected by Earlville-Ruth Suckow Memorial Association

Another view of the park, with the shelter, and lovely flowers.

"Ruth Suckow loved the Iowa countryside near this site: the rolling farmlands, woods, streams and wildflowers. She called the little house that stood here 'My House.' Ruth was unknown when she came to Earlville in 1920. By 1926, she had published two novels and many short stories and was recognized in this country as the author of a fresh kind of realism. Her work tells in rich detail the life of Middle western communities in the earlier part of the 20th century: the family gatherings, church suppers, holiday celebrations, school commencements. Born in Hawarden, Iowa, August 6, 1892, Ruth died in Claremont, California, January 23, 1960.

The engraved granite panel containing these words, as well as a drawing of Suckow's former home, were created by Suckow Association Board members Geri Bley, Terry Walters, and Ferner Nuhn (Suckow's husband).

Earlville is also the home of the Ruth Suckow Memorial Library, as seen below.

The engraved sign on the Library/Community Center's entrance.

Several members pose by the sign at one of our Annual meetings in Earlville.

The building housing the library and Community Center.

Here is a model of the Suckow home that is on display at the library.

Our annual meeting in Earlville, 2005.

The Suckow Display in the Earlville library.

Close up on the Bulletin Board.

In 1992, the Association supported Ruth Suckow Centenary activities in seven Iowa cities: Cedar Falls, Des Moines, Dubuque, Earlville, Grinnell, Hawarden, and Iowa City. Celebrations included lectures, tours, readings from Suckow's works, and performances of a new play, "Just Suppose," by Iowa writer Rebecca Christian. This one-woman show brought Suckow to life (enacted by Lenore Howard).

The Association has also helped make possible the reprinting by the University of Iowa Press of two of Suckow's out-of-print texts: The Folks and New Hope.

With the establishment of this website, the Association offers access to several of Suckow's short stories, as Adobe PDFs, to make it easier for book clubs or teachers to acquaint new readers with Suckow's work. We are also actively working with the Iowa Digital Heritage website to digitize her work.

In 1996, a plaque was unveiled at Suckow's birthplace in Hawarden, Iowa, and the Association helped an organization in Hawarden buy and preserve this "prairie cottage with the long windows," as Suckow affectionately called it. Please visit our page dedicated to the Birthplace for pictures of its interior, after the renovation.

The Suckow Birthplace in Hawarden before restoration work.

Cedar Falls, Iowa--Sculpture & Burial Place

We've been using the Cedar Falls Public Library as our home base for our Annual Meetings for a number of years. Ruth and Ferner are buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Cedar Falls; please visit the page about their graves for more details.


Now, we have a sculpture honoring Ruth Suckow and Ferner Nuhn; it is pictured above with the sculptress who created it, Hannah Seggerman, a UNI student. It was installed in time for the 2017 Annual Meeting, and it was a collaborative effort. Members of the new Cedar Falls Authors Festival, the Cedar Falls Supper Club, and the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association came together to raise over $1250 in just a few months.

In all, 19 people or families gave funds so that we could secure this sculpture, named "Amongst." It depicts new rising out of the old. The sculpture is located in the Sculpture Garden of the Hearst Center for the Arts, which is appropriate, since James Hearst, Ruth Suckow and Ferner Nuhn were friends. In addition, Hearst and Nuhn were founding members of the Supper Club.

Last Updated March 5, 2021

Cherie Dargan, Webmaster