This short documentary about Caroline Iverson Ackerman was produced in 1995 for Mosaic, the video magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The following biography is from the Harvard University Library Papers of Caroline Iverson Ackerman.
Caroline Iverson Ackerman was born in 1918 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Jacob Engval and Ella Dorothea (Schmidt) Iverson. Ackerman's father was a layout editor for the Milwaukee Journal, while her mother taught short story/feature writing at Wauwatosa High School Adult Education Program and was publicity editor for the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Ackerman had a sister, Dorothy (Iverson) Edwards.
Ackerman graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1939 with a B.A. degree in journalism and education. She was fired from her first job as a shopper's reporter for the Janesville Daily Gazette after six months, and moved back to Milwaukee to live with her parents. Ackerman then worked as a classified advertising and business feature writer at the Milwaukee Journal. While there, she noticed an advertisement for free flying lessons at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, sponsored by the U.S. Government. Rejected initially because she was a woman, Ackerman was called back when the school failed to meet its quota of males. She passed all her courses, and received her pilot's license in the fall of 1940. After receiving government certification as a Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Ground School instructor in the U.S. Civilian Pilot Training program, Ackerman taught at the University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Carroll College, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering in the evenings. Among the courses she taught were navigation, meteorology, theory of flight, engines, and civil air regulations. Ackerman continued her own education, taking advanced lessons in open cockpit and acrobatic flying. In 1941, she and one of her students made a much-heralded flight to Alaska: a first in a small, 65-horsepower, two-seater airplane.
In the spring of 1942, Life magazine recruited Ackerman to be an aviation researcher, developing aviation-related picture stories, covering stories with photographers, and writing captions. Before World War II, flying had been considered primarily for daredevils, but the military began to rely heavily on its use and approached Life for help alleviating public fears about flying. Ackerman was promoted to aviation editor at the age of 26, and continued in that position for the duration of the war. Because of her previous flying experience, she was given the opportunity to fly B-52, B-26, B-24, and B-17 bombers, as well as the first B-29 to come off the line in Wichita, Kansas, during tours of military bases.
In 1947, Ackerman, like many other women in the workforce, was released from her job after the soldiers returned from the war. She left Life and was hired by Shell Oil Company, founding the company's first program for public relations for women, based on family automobile touring. She worked under the pseudonym "Carol Lane, Women's Travel Director," a persona who traveled frequently to speak to women's groups about efficiently packing a suitcase, entertaining children in the car, and finding child-friendly destinations for weekend trips (which she called "Tourettes"). She also wrote a syndicated weekly column, "Tips on Touring," and appeared on radio and TV shows as a "travel expert."
On December 31, 1949, Caroline Iverson married Leslie (Les) Ackerman in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Shortly after marrying, Caroline quit Shell and moved to Warwick, Rhode Island, where Les worked as a chemical engineer and commodity manager for the U.S. Rubber Company, while Caroline stayed home to raise their three children: Karin (Field), Terrell, and Jon. While at home, Ackerman did some freelance writing, but mostly gratis publicity work for organizations such as the Girl Scouts, Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Cub Scouts, American Association of University Women (AAUW), etc.
In 1965, the family moved to South Natick, Massachusetts, where Ackerman returned to school, receiving her M.S. in journalism at Boston University in 1969. Ackerman joined the faculty of Northeastern University as a journalism professor in 1971. She was denied tenure, and left Northeastern in 1978. Throughout her life, Ackerman had been involved with the Lutheran Church, and after her retirement from Northeastern, she assisted with communications development within the New England Synod, and on a national level. She wrote for and eventually became editor of the New England Lutheran until her retirement in 1992. Her husband joined her, becoming her chief editorial assistant after his retirement. Ackerman was also New England correspondent for The Lutheran, the church's national publication. The Ackermans had been married 51 years when Les died in 2001; in 2004, Caroline moved to an assisted living facility in Montana where she passed away in 2012.
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