Austin History Center

Alma Sioux Scarberry Papers

An Inventory of the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Scarberry, Alma Sioux
Title: Alma Sioux Scarberry Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1926-1990
Abstract: The Alma Sioux Scarberry Papers, 1926-1990, consist of printed material, creative works, and correspondence documenting the life and activities of Alma Sioux Scarberry. Clippings make up the bulk of the material and provide a comprehensive look at Scarberry's character and activities through the years 1926-1990.
Identification: AR.1996.012
Quantity: 1 linear feet (3 boxes)
Location: Archives stacks and qAR
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX, 78768

Biographical Note

Alma Sioux Scarberry, born Alma Sue Scarberry, was born in Carter County, Kentucky on June 24, 1899. She changed her name to Alma Sioux upon finding out she was part Native American (of the Cherokee tribe). Alma Sioux spent her life as a novelist, feature and serials writer, newspaper reporter, script writer, lecturer, actress, poet, Broadway performer, singer/songwriter, commentator, publicist, teacher, patriot, mother, and wife. She was married to Lieutenant Theodore August Klein from 1930-1941 and had one child, Theodore August Klein, Jr., born May 22, 1932.

Scarberry began her career at the age of 18 by selling varnish to pay her way to New York City. In New York, she enlisted in the Navy for one year as one of the first 'Yeomanettes' until beginning writing assignments for several New York newspapers such as The Sun and The Mirror. Alma Sioux made a name for herself with her feature articles and publicity stunts in these journals. Her other activities in New York include performing in Shubert's Mikado on Broadway and singing with Irving Berlin's Music Box Review, Second Edition.

In 1926 Alma Sioux moved to Pittsburgh to write a daily column and features for the Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph. It was here in 1931 that she wrote her first novel and achieved a contract as columnist and serial writer with Central Press. After her marriage in 1930, Alma Sioux moved to Chicago and had her first radio drama produced by NBC. One of Alma Sioux's major accomplishments was the publishing of 21 romance novels in serial format. Twelve of her novels were then published in book form.

Alma Sioux took her first publicity job in 1940 with CBS in Hollywood, CA. While at CBS she also served as the head of a writing department and continued to write radio dramas. She returned to NYC in 1944 to direct the Radio Bureau of the National War Fund. After 1946 she wrote features, columns, and songs for films. In 1949 she relocated to San Antonio, TX for two years where she established the Scarberry School of Creative Writing and Radio. In 1951 she moved to Dallas, TX to open a branch of this school. Alma Sioux's name became even more commonplace when General Features Corporation picked up her serial The Doofer Family and published it in comics sections of newspapers throughout the U.S. from 1955-56. The Doofer Family consists of stories written by Alma Sioux based on experiences with her son, Ted, and some friends in Dallas, accompanied by artist Win Morton's drawings.

Alma's career expanded to include the post of soldier-show technician at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas during the Korean War. She then served as public relations director for Columbus Plastic Products in Ohio from 1959-65. In 1965, Alma Sioux decided to move to Austin, TX to be close to her son. She is best known in Austin as the 'Vacuum Cleaner Lady' for her publicity spots in commercials for the Austin Vacuum Cleaner Company, and for her monthly appearance on the Cactus Pryor show on Austin radio station KLBJ. She also served as publicist for several Austin organizations such as the Austin Parks & Recreation Dept., the Old Bakery & Emporium, Austin Women's Federation, Goodwill Industries, Job Preparation Center, Living of Child and Family Service, Austin Community Services Association, and St. Luke's on-the-Lake Episcopal Church. She continued to write while in Austin, providing feature columns for the Austin American-Statesman and The Networker, and she published a book of her Doofer Family stories. Alma Sioux Scarberry died of a stroke at the age of 90, on April 10, 1990.

Scope and Contents

Printed material, photographs, creative works, and correspondence, 1926-1990, document the life and activities of Alma Sioux Scarberry. Organized into personal, creative works, and organizations, the Alma Sioux Scarberry series consists of items created by, written about and collected by Alma Sioux Scarberry. Brief biographies, one written by Austin radio personality Cactus Pryor, along with numerous clippings about Scarberry both before and after her move to Austin are included among the personal material. Clippings make up the bulk of the material and provide a comprehensive look at Scarberry's character and activities through the years 1926-1990. The syndicated stories of The Doofer Family, written by Scarberry in the 1950s, are represented in clipping and novel form. Also, eight novels, one of which is incomplete, along with a variety of original songs, personal holiday newsletters called Siouxziegrams, a poster composite of headlines and articles by Scarberry and other writings represent the creative works. Publicity programs Scarberry worked on for the Austin Parks & Recreation Department, the Austin Women's Federation, Columbus Plastic Products in Ohio and the Dallas County Humane Society, and other information about those organizations constitutes about 15 percent of the material. A small amount of material composes a series about Ted Klein, Jr., Scarberry's son.


Arranged into 2 series: I. Alma Sioux Scarberry and II. Ted Klein


Restrictions on Access


Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Scarberry, Alma Sioux
Pryor, Cactus
Klein, Theodore, Jr.
Austin Parks and Recreation Department
Austin Women's Federation
Columbus Plastic Products
Dallas County Humane Society
The Networker
Austin (Tex.)
Women journalists--United States--Biography.
Women writers.

Related Material

The Alma Sioux Scarberry Papers (1899-1990) at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Columbia include correspondence, clippings, photographs, newspaper serials, books, manuscripts, sheet music, audio tapes and records. [C3913, 3 linear feet]

Separated Material

The following have been separated to the General Collection: Pause for Nostalgia: An Anthology of Personal Memoirs of the 1920's and 1930's, Leap Year Lady, Penthouse Love

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Alma Sioux Scarberry Papers (AR.1996.012). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1996/019

Donation Date: 1996, 1998

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Kimberly Suekawa and Anneliese Taylor/1996. Encoded by Evan Usler/2010. Revised by Molly Hults/2011.

Detailed Description of the Collection

1. Alma Sioux Scarberry, 1926-1990

Personal, 1926-1990, undated
Box Folder
1 1 Biographical, 1950-1990
2 Clippings, 1926-1990, undated
3 Programs, 1978, undated
4 Letters, 1945-1986
5 Photographs, 1972, undated
Creative Works, 1929-1985, undated
Box Folder
2 1-8 Novels, 1929-1941, undated
Doofer Family, 1955-1956, undated
Box Folder
3 1-2 Stories, 1955-1956, undated
3 Clippings, 1955-1956, undated
4 Illustrations, undated
5 General, 1955, undated
6 Musical Works, 1943-1963, undated
6 Tough Break, 1954, undated
8 Siouxziegrams, 1965-1976, undated
9 If I had a Million, undated
10 Clippings, 1937-1982, undated
11 Networker, 1983-1985, undated
Location Box
qAR 019/072 Poster, undated
Organizations, 1964-1985, undated
Box Folder
3 12 Austin Parks and Recreation Department, 1977-1985, undated
13 Austin Women's Federation , 1975-1978
14 Columbus Plastic Products , 1965, undated
15 Dallas County Humane Society, 1964, undated

II. Ted Klein, 1959-1989, undated

Box Folder
3 16 Clippings, 1959, undated
16 Letter, 1989