Conger Reynolds (1891-1971)

Founder of Journalism Dept. at the U. of Iowa, U.S. Foreign service officer, Standard Oil Company

Born on a farm in Dallas County, Iowa, on March 23, 1891, Conger Reynolds grew up in the small town of Dexter, Iowa, graduating high school with the class of 1908.

While Reynolds’ lived in Dexter, the town’s population was between 607 (1890 Census) and 795 (1900, which was Dexter’s heyday).

This young man from such a small town attended the University of Iowa where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1912. His first job was as a reporter with the Des Moines Register and Leader. In 1915, he became publicity director at the U. of Iowa, and also taught journalism. Reynolds enlisted when World War I began, and was was an intelligence officer in France.

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Lt. Conger Reynolds, USA, Intelligence Officer with Gen. John Pershing’s Expeditionary Forces, WWI

After the war, he remained in France as managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, Paris edition.

In 1922, he was assigned vice-consul to Halifax, Nova Scotia for two years, then as vice-consul and later consul in Stuttgart, Germany. While at the consulates he specialized in trade promotion. In 1929, Reynolds became the director of public relations for the Standard Oil Company, from which he retired in 1955.

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Conger Reynolds, taken about 1950
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Conger Reynolds visiting his hometown of Dexter, Iowa. No date.

Moving to Washington, DC, he joined the US Information Agency as director of the Office of Private Cooperation. There he worked with the Eisenhower administration to launch the People-to-People program which was designed to promote international understanding. He worked in this capacity until 1961, when he finally did in fact retire. Conger Reynolds died in 1971.

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From the History of Dexter, Iowa, 1968, page 108.

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The papers of Conger Reynolds have been collected by the University of Iowa, documenting his personal life and career. Along with a folder of autobiographical and biographical sketches, there are diaries, photographs, and scrapbooks, clippings, and other files. 

 

 

 

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