Stevenson, Samuel K.

A close up black and white photograph of Samuel Stevenson. He is wearing a suit and tie with short hair and no beard.
A close-up image of Samuel Stevenson photographed in black and white. Source: Dr. Melissa Stewart

Samuel K. Stevenson

Samuel Kirkwood Stevenson served the Library Board for over thirty years and is called “the father and grandfather of the Iowa City Public Library”.[1] He was only twenty-nine when he joined the original board in 1896 and he was involved in nearly every aspect of the library for the next thirty three years. He believed the public library was an important support system for the public schools and spent most of his profession career endeavoring to begin and maintain both school and public libraries.

Samuel was born March 1, 1867 in Scott Township, Johnson County, Iowa. His parents, John A & Henrietta Griffith Stevenson, settled in that area in 1856. Samuel attended Iowa City Academy, graduating with honors in 1889. He went on to graduate June 15,1893 from the collegiate department of the University with a degree of Bachelor of Philosophy. He began to study at the Law Department that same year, but was interrupted by his election in November to the office of Superintendent of schools for Johnson County. ”A marked feature of Superintendent Stevenson’s administration was the introduction of the school library movement in Johnson County. During the last two years of his term ninety-five school libraries were established.”[2] He was also elected to Superintendent of schools for Iowa City and served both positions from August thru November 1897. He served in this new position for nine years. Samuel married August 2, 1898 to Miss Marcia J. Jacobs in Cedar Rapids.[3] Upon his departure from the Iowa City School system, he returned to his ambition for the practice of law, graduating from the Law Department June 7, 1907 and he was admitted to the Iowa Bar five days later.[4] Samuel Stevenson practiced law for nearly thirty years and retired to California in the mid 1930s where he died on January 9, 1938.[5]

-Dr. Melissa Stewart

[1] Eggers, Lolly Parker, A Century of Stories, The History of the Iowa City Public Library, p. 50.

[2] Aurner, Clarence Ray, Leading Events in Johnson County, Vol. 2, p. 342.

[3] Iowa Marriage Records, Linn County, Vol. 395, p. 824.

[4] Aurner, Leading Events in Johnson County, Vol. 2, p. 343.

[5] California San Francisca Area Funeral Home Record, 1895-1985,, Image 43.