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The Nancy Drew Conference

It was discovered at the University of Iowa, that Mildred Wirt Benson was their first student to earn a Masters in Journalism. She was also missing from the Hall of Fame. An assistant professor, Sue Lafky, started a campaign to get Mildred into the Hall of Fame. Once Mildred made it onto the ballot and the awards ceremony was announced, many Nancy Drew fans began to call the university wanting to attend and to meet Mildred.

Nancy Romalov, one of the conference organizers, was researching girls' series books and also teaching a course and she introduced everyone to the series book world and its many facets.

An idea began to develop of hosting what would become the Nancy Drew Conference. Journalism Professor, Carolyn Stewart Dyer, and Nancy began planning.

The Nancy Drew Conference

As Carolyn writes in the book, Rediscovering Nancy Drew, that the conference had several objectives: 1. Examine Nancy Drew® as part of American popular culture through an exploration of the history of the series. 2. To make known Mildred's role in the development of the character of Nancy Drew®. 3. Dig into the controversies surrounding the series. 4. To address the impact of the series on the lifetime reading habits of fans and their sense of themselves.

The conference was a moment of rediscovering Nancy Drew® for many who attended.

It was the first conference of its kind with 500 in attendance. Those who came were a diverse group of fans, scholars, librarians, teachers, and the general public. It received major media coverage and Mildred was ABC-TV's Person of the Week.

Mildred was named to both the Ohio and Iowa Women's Halls of Fame. The next year after the conference, she received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Iowa.

The conference had 2 parts--a public conference and a scholar's conference. A book was published about the conference, Rediscovering Nancy Drew, and it is still in print--I highly recommend it!


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