Alma Sioux Scarberry Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
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.
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.
Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use
Alma Sioux Scarberry Papers (AR.1996.012). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
Donor #: DO/1996/019
Donation Date: 1996, 1998
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