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Parman Shoemaker Family papers

Identifier: Coll 286

Scope and Contents note

The Parman Shoemaker Family papers consists of letters, notably correspondences from World War I and World War II. Diaries and other memorabilia, writings, ephemera, blueprints, home movies, and hundreds of black and white photographs and color slides document the life and times of several generations.

The Joseph Jamison Shoemaker papers contain correspondence, personal records, and ephemera documenting Shoemaker’s work as an electrical and safety engineer, as well as his military service in World War I and II. The earliest letters and postcards are to his first wife, Gladys Cochran Shoemaker, including letters written from France where Joseph served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I. His many letters to his second wife, Clara Still Shoemaker, and his parents, Will and Ada Shoemaker, during World War II follow his trajectory from North Africa to Sicily, Italy, and France, again with the Signal Corps. Most of the ephemera in this series dates from World War II; of particular interest is a Nazi propaganda flyer aimed at Allied soldiers.

The Elizabeth Shoemaker Parman papers contain correspondence, personal records and memorabilia, writings, and ephemera. Correspondence includes communication with her parents Joseph and Clara Shoemaker, her husband George Parman, and her children, Alice and John Parman. Personal records and memorabilia include her high school yearbook. Other records focus on family history, Betsy’s founding of a Planned Parenthood chapter in Northern New Jersey in the mid-1950s, her efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, and her studies at George Washington University. Her writings include an autobiography, essays, and poems. Ephemera contains souvenirs of Vienna and other travels.

The George Kristian Parman III papers include correspondence, family papers, personal records and memorabilia, writings, and ephemera. Letters include communication with family members, including letters to Betsy, Alice, and John. Family papers and memorabilia in this section focus on George’s family in Norway. Among George’s personal records and memorabilia are army records, business records, and yearly planners. His writings take two forms: technical articles and reports; and accounts of vacations and travel. Ephemera includes George’s college yearbook, army, and business items.

The George and Elizabeth Parman papers correspondence, records and memorabilia, and ephemera documenting the Parman’s shared lives during a marriage that lasted almost 53 years. Joint correspondence includes yearly holiday letters, and letters to both of them, especially from Clara Shoemaker. Among their joint records are address books, deeds and records, marriage and anniversary memorabilia, and yearly planners. Ephemera focus on Vienna, other travel, and Iowa State.

The Alice Parman papers consist of correspondence, personal records and memorabilia, writings, and ephemera. Letters primarily consist of communication between Alice and her parents, George and Betsy Parman, between Alice and longtime friends Christine Van Lenten and Caryn Throop, as well as her husband John Zerzan. Among her personal records and memorabilia are documents related to schooling, college, and work, as well as mementoes. Miscellaneous writings and ephemera complete this series.The John Parman papers, contains writings, correspondence, and childhood art work by John Parman.

Miscellaneous Shoemaker papers include letters and memorabilia pertaining to Gladys Cochran Shoemaker, Joseph Shoemaker’s first wife and Betsy’s mother, and her family. Correspondence between Gladys and Joe is a highlight. Gladys’s yearbook from the University of Colorado is part of the collection; she was among the first women graduates. Joe Shoemaker’s second wife, Clara Still Shoemaker, is represented by letters and memorabilia. Her five-year diaries, which she kept nearly 40 years, document the busy life of a wife, mother, and community volunteer.

Photographs and negatives include images of family members and their travels, from the late 19th century through the 2000s. The objects series contains family keepsakes, including a commemorative paperweight presented to Joseph Shoemaker by the operators of the Vesuvius funicular railway, returned to operation when Joe restored power in the Naples area. Film reels contains home movies mostly shot in the 1950s. The film footage includes vintage landscapes and streetscapes of Singapore, Hong Kong, and other locales, as well as family activities. Blueprints contains a series of designs for the Parmans’ home in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey.


  • circa 1850-2015, undated
  • Majority of material found within 1880 - 1989


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Anna Elizabeth Shoemaker was born August 10, 1915 in Sibley, Iowa. Named for her maternal grandmother, she was called Betty in childhood and took the name Betsy in college. She was the daughter of Joseph J. “Joe” Shoemaker and Gladys Cochran. Gladys was a college graduate who taught for a year. Gladys died from complications of surgery on March 23,1920. After Glady’s death, Betsy lived in Albia, Iowa, with Joe’s parents, Will and Ada Shoemaker, until Joe married Clara Still a few years later. She had worked as a teacher, and became an active volunteer at the community and state levels. Betsy moved with her father and stepmother to Clawson, Michigan, and then to Pleasant Ridge, Michigan, near Detroit. Two siblings were born: Sylvia Caldwell Shoemaker (October 1, 1925) and William Knapp “Bill” Shoemaker (1927). In 1934, Betsy entered Iowa State College, where she majored in Home Economics and was a member of Kappa Delta sorority. At the campus ministry of the Episcopal Church, she met George Parman.

George Kristian Parman was born August 19, 1915 in Brooklyn, New York. His father and grandfather, both Norwegians, were named Georg Kristian Parmann. George lived in Brooklyn until about 1920, when the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska. When George was eight years old, he spent a year in Norway with his mother, Alice Anda Parman, and his sister Evelyn. George graduated from high school in Omaha, then entered Iowa State College as a ROTC cadet and chemical engineering major in 1933. After graduation George was hired by a Detroit-based pharmaceutical company, Parke Davis, and moved to Detroit.

Betsy and George were married August 17, 1939 at the home of her parents, 45 Oakdale Boulevard, Pleasant Ridge, Michigan. They lived in Detroit until George was called up for Army service in 1942. The couple lived on army bases, where their daughter Alice was born October 28, 1942, and Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania. George was sent to England in 1943. Betsy and Alice lived in New York City with George’s father and sister before moving to Michigan.

A photo interpreter, George lived in London during the second blitz and also spent some time near Salisbury. His focus was preparing maps for bombing raids and also for the projected invasion of Normandy. He developed a close friendship with an English family, Bill and Nora Parker and their children Jean and Neil of suburban Ruislip. In July 1944 George went to Normandy by boat with a jeep and a driver, Sergeant Sam Whitmee. Their task was to locate objects on the ground that could not be identified from the air. They spent six months driving through France, sleeping in fields and barns, and at one point almost got caught up in the Battle of the Bulge. They were present at the liberation of Paris, and finished up in conquered Germany. The photo interpretation unit was then assigned to SHAEF headquarters at Le Vésinet, near Paris.

George arrived home in the winter of 1945-46. He was hired on at Hoffman La Roche in Nutley, New Jersey. Their son John Jamison Parman was born in Bronxville January 15, 1947. In 1949, Hoffman La Roche had sent George to Singapore for six months, as a consultant to the then-British government. His specialty in vitamins and his factory floor experience (at Parke Davis) equipped him to supervise construction of plants to enrich white rice with Vitamin B; this would end the scourge of beri-beri, a vitamin deficiency disease. While George was in Singapore, Betsy, Alice and John, along with George Parman II, traveled by ship from New York to Goteborg, Sweden, and then by train to Oslo. George joined the family in September, and after a couple more weeks in the city of Oslo, the Parmans went to Paris and London before returning home.

In 1950 George was offered a three-year contract to continue his work in Singapore. Betsy sold the house and traveled by train with the children to San Francisco, with stops in Detroit to see Joe and Clara, and in Belmond, Iowa to see her sister Sylvia, who had married a farmer. Betsy, Alice and John sailed to Singapore on the President Polk, a round-the-world cruise ship, via Honolulu, Tokyo, Kobe, Hong Kong, and Manila. For the next three years Betsy and George lived at 197A Cornwall Gardens, Singapore.

George and Betsy were married more than 50 years. After returning from Singapore, they lived in Nutley for a year while building a house in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, where Alice and John both graduated from high school. In 1965 George and Betsy moved to the Washington, DC area, where they lived almost continuously until 1984. George worked for the federal government in Washington (Food for Peace, Agency for International Development) and for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna. Betsy completed her bachelor degree at George Washington University, while working as secretary for the Psychology Department. In 1984 George and Betsy moved to Eugene, Oregon, where Alice had lived since 1978. Alice’s daughter Rachael Carnes was born in Chicago November 6, 1971.


26.5 linear feet (20 containers) : 17 record storage boxes, 1 manuscript box, 1flat oversize box, 2 oversize folders

3 Unprocessed linear feet (2 containers) : 1 record storage box, 1 12" by 17.5" flat box

Language of Materials



The Parman Shoemaker Family papers are divided into eleven series, according to family members and also by medium. The bulk of this collection consists of letters, notably correspondences from World War I and World War II.


Collection is organized into the following series:

Series I: Joseph Jamison Shoemaker papers; Series II: Elizabeth (Betsy) Shoemaker Parman papers; Series III: George Kristian Parman III papers; Series IV: George and Elizabeth Parman papers; Series V: Alice Parman papers Series VI: John Parman; Series VII: Miscellaneous Shoemaker papers; Series VIII: Photographs and negatives; Series IX: Objects; Series X: Film Reels; Series XI: Blueprints

Series I is arranged in three subseries: Subseries A: Correspondence; Subseries B: Personal records; Subseries C: Ephemera

Series II is arranged in four subseries: Subseries A: Correspondence; Subseries B: Personal records and memorabilia; Subseries C: Writings; Subseries D: Ephemera

Series III is arranged in five subseries: Subseries A: Correspondence; Subseries B: Family records and memorabilia; Subseries C: Personal records and memorabilia; Subseries D: Writings; Subseries E: Ephemera

Series IV is arranged in three subseries: Subseries A: Correspondence; Subseries B: Personal records; Subseries C: Ephemera

Series V is arranged in four subseries: Subseries A: Correspondence; Subseries B: Personal records and memorabilia; Subseries C: Writings; Subseries D: Ephemera

Series VIII is arranged in five subseries: Subseries A: Albums; Subseries B: Prints; Subseries C: Unidentified prints; Subseries D: Color slides; Subseries E: Negatives

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Alice Parman. Additional description completed by staff in 2017.

Guide to the Parman-Shoemaker Family Papers
Revise Description
University of Oregon Libraries
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA