Correspondence, writings, and collected materials of Clarence Walworth Alvord, founder of
the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, editor of the Mississippi Valley Historical
Review, and professor of history at the universities of Illinois and Minnesota; and his wife,
Idress Head Alvord, writer and former curator of the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis.
Mrs. Alvord's private manuscript collection includes territorial documents and Ste. Genevieve
records; Liberty Tribune papers; Missouri state and county records; and Civil War and military
The Idress Head Alvord Estate, Columbia, Missouri, donated the Alvord Collection to the
University of Missouri on 15 March and 26 November 1962 (Accession Nos. 3505 and 3528).
The donation included papers of Clarence Walworth Alvord which had previously been housed at
the Minnesota Historical Society. The University of Missouri Library transferred additional
items on 14 March 1969 (Accession No. 3802).
Clarence Walworth Alvord was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, May 21, 1868, the son of Daniel
Wells and Caroline Betts (Dewey) Alvord. On July 25, 1893 he married Jennie Kettell Blanchard
(née Parrott). She died September 12, 1911. They had one daughter, Genevieve. On April 10, 1913
he married Idress Head in Palmyra, Missouri. Professor Alvord was a Unitarian.
Alvord received his A.B. from Williams College in 1890 and studied at the University of Berlin,
1893-1895, and the University of Chicago for two quarters in 1895. He obtained his Ph.D. from
the University of Illinois in 1908.
Alvord began his academic career in Massachusetts as an instructor at the Milton Academy,
1891-1893, and at the Prep School, University of Illinois, 1897-1901. He became an instructor
of history, 1901-1906; associate, 1904-1907; assistant professor, 1907-1909; associate professor,
1909-1913; and professor, 1913-1920, at the University of Illinois. In 1920 he accepted a
professorship at the University of Minnesota.
He was a founder of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association. From 1906 through 1920 he
was General Editor, Illinois Historical Collections, and from 1913 to 1923, managing editor of
the Mississippi Valley Historical Review. He was editor-in-chief of the Illinois Centennial
History and director of the Illinois Historical Survey, University of Illinois.
Alvord and his wife spent the years from 1923 until his death in 1928 abroad, primarily in
England and France. He was recognized on both sides of the Atlantic for his contributions to
historical scholarship and was awarded the Loubat prize in 1917 for the best historical work
published in the United States during the preceding five years: The Mississippi Valley in
British Politics. He was a member of the Anglo-American Historical Committee. He gave the
Raleigh lecture on history before the British Academy in 1925 and the Creighton lecture before
the University of London in 1926. He was the first non-British subject to deliver the Creighton
Alvord contributed to various English magazines and was published in the Nation and the American
Mercury in the U.S. He was also a member of the American Historical Association and the National
Academy of Sciences. When he died in Diano Marina on the Italian Riviera, January 27, 1928, he
had been working on his contribution to the Cambridge History of the British Empire. He
was to contribute chapters on causes of the American Revolution and on British politics.
Idress Head Alvord was born in Roanoke, Randolph County, Missouri, on March 2, 1873. She was
the daughter of John Calhoun Head and Susan Wallace Head. She graduated from Howard Payne College,
Fayette, Missouri, in 1897; Central College, Fayette, 1899; and did graduate work at the University
Miss Head taught in the Fayette public schools from 1901 through 1902. She was a research assistant
from 1903 to 1907 for historian Louis Houck, author of the three volume History of Missouri. She was
librarian and curator for the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis from 1907 until her marriage
to Clarence Walworth Alvord on April 10, 1913. Miss Head founded the Missouri United Daughters of
the Confederacy Library and Museum and became its first librarian in 1906. She published Historical
and Interesting Places of St. Louis in 1909, and a series of her historical sketches were published
in the St. Louis Republic.
She was state treasurer of the Missouri Folklore Society and director of the St. Louis branch from
1909 to 1913. From 1912 to 1913 she served on the executive committee of the Mississippi Valley
In 1918 Mrs. Alvord was an assistant in the woolens section of the War Industries Board. Active
in Democratic politics, she ran for Minnesota State Senator from the 29th district in 1922. In
partnership with M. Gertrude Neal, she tried her hand at business, opening the Neal-Alvord Shop
in Minneapolis in 1922. The shop specialized in furnishings and accessories for the dining room.
In 1923 she accompanied her husband to England and Europe.
From 1933 to 1936 she was executive secretary in the Missouri office of the Farm Debt Adjustment
Unit of the Resettlement Administration, and in 1937 was assistant state director of the WPA
Historical Records Survey in New Mexico. She co-authored Inventory County Archives, Colfax County,
Mrs. Alvord contributed numerous articles on historical topics to newspapers and magazines. During
her husband's extended illness in Italy, she wrote reviews under his name. In 1948 she published a
family genealogy, Descent of Henry Head (1695-1770) in America.
Her memberships included the Methodist Church, various historical associations and societies,
Pi Beta Phi Social Sorority, Missouri Folklore Society, Women's Club (Minneapolis), American
Association of University Women, National Society of Magna Carta Dames, Descendants of the Most
Noble Order of the Garter, Daughters of 1812, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the League
of Women Voters.
Mrs. Alvord held honorary memberships in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the
Institute Historique et Heraldique de France. She was patroness of Phi Beta Fraternity. She
is listed in Who's Who in America, World Nobility and Peerage, The National Directory of
Biography, American Women, and the Institute of American Genealogy Handbook.
She moved to Columbia in 1945 and rented rooms in her home to University of Missouri students.
Her home, filled with antiques obtained in Italy after World War I, and her gardens, were
frequently the subject of local newspaper stories. She died in February 1962.
New Orleans, LA
Saturday, 28 January 1928
Springfield, Hampden Co., MA
Saturday, 28 January 1928