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Jewish Life & History in Iowa: UI Archival Collections: The Arts

The Arts: An Overview

The Arts


The Arts section includes significant material from both IWA and UI Special Collections. This page makes space for women and men who had a career or interest in the arts that shows through in their personal papers, as well as for works by and/or about Jewish artists and Jewish-inspired art.  Collections of personal papers include those of Louise Noun, a co-founder of the Iowa Women's Archives, whose passion for collecting art by women led to the sale of Frida Kahlo's "Self Portrait with Long Hair" that endowed the Archives.  Researchers will also find poetry, photographs, stories, and other creative work by women like Marlene Booth, whose career as an independent filmmaker included Yidl in the Middle, an exploration of growing up Jewish in the Midwest, and Janine Canan, a poet and essayist who translated the work of German Jewish poet Else Lasker-Schüler.  Listings from the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry highlight the work of Jewish artists and writers like Jerome Rothenberg and Isadore Isou, as well as specific works of art that engage with Jewish identify and language, like Joelle Dautricourt's work on Hebrew calligraphy. The items and collections on this page help to illuminate art's role and meaning in the lives of individual women and men, as well as its relationship to Jewish community and identity more broadly.


Check out the individual collection descriptions below to learn more!  The title of each collection links directly to the full finding aid for more complete details on biography/history, scope and contents, and collection material.



Location: Iowa Women’s Archives  

Papers, 1951-2009. 5 linear inches. 

Jewish independent filmmaker raised in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1998, she made the film ‘Yidl in the Middle’ which explored growing up Jewish in the Midwest. Booth’s collection includes a DVD copy of ‘Yidl in the Middle’ along with several other of her independent films. The Film Making series has publicity, photographs and legal documents related to several of her projects. It focuses on her career in the late 1990s.  


CANAN, JANINE (1942-2020) 

Location: University of Iowa Special Collections 

Papers, 1960-2004. 19.5 linear feet.  

The papers of the writer and psychiatrist Janine Canan include manuscripts, anthologized works, books, and literary correspondence. She translated the Jewish German poet Else Lasker-Schüler’s book, Star in My Forehead, as well as other works. She was a poet, essayist, story writer, translator, and editor. She lived in Northern California. 

Relevant items in collection: 

Gaia Books Event. Janine Canan, James Broughton et al (Cloud House Video, Jewish  Community Center, Berkeley CA), 1991 June. Box 13.  

Mosaic: A Jewish Literary Magazine #33, 1994. Box 5. 

Jewish Books from Independent Publishers. Box 7a. 


DADA COVERS (1900-2000) 

Location: University of Iowa Special Collections: msc0909.  

Since the dust jackets on books related to Dada often illustrate or illuminate the subject or thesis of the book, a decision was made around 2000 to retain the jackets permanently in a collection separate from the books themselves. This collection was originally arranged in order by the call number assigned to the book. 

Relevant items in collection: 

“In the Open”: Jewish Women Writers and British Culture. Flat Box 5. 

Jerome Rothenberg’s Experimental Poetry and Jewish Tradition. Flat Box 5. 



Location: Iowa Women’s Archives  

Papers, 1918-1975. 2.5 linear inches. 

Isabel Greenberg Alt was born and raised in Algona, Iowa. After graduating from the University of Iowa in 1939, she briefly pursued a career in theater and radio in New York City. After returning to Iowa, she started broadcasting on KVFD in Fort Dodge, Iowa as “Dorothy Dodge.” Alt and her husband, Don, also worked together at WMT Cedar Rapids. Alt’s collection has little information about her career, although there is a photograph of her at work standing in front of a microphone.  


GOLDMAN, LOUISE (1924-1998) 

Location: Iowa Women’s Archives  

Papers, 1933-1997. 12.25 linear inches. 

Louise Goldman was a public servant, feminist activist, and poet from Davenport, Iowa. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Iowa, Hilfman pursued a career in mental health services in the Quad Cities, where her husband Bernard was a doctor. Although she had a degree in journalism, Goldman’s interest in writing truly flourished after her retirement. She honed her skills in poetry, and focused especially on fostering children’s love of reading and writing. Goldman became well-known for this work locally, and continued writing until her death in 1998. Her papers document her poetry and community outreach in the Poetry and Other Writings series. Researchers will find her published poetry, newsletters from when she was poet-in-residence at Davenport’s Lincoln Center for the Cultural Arts, and ephemera from classes and workshops on writing.  



The International Dada Archive is a scholarly resource for the study of the historic Dada Movement, an art movement associated with the European avant-garde in the early 20th century. The Archive's collection is made up of works by and about the dadaists, including books, articles, microfilmed manuscript collections, videorecordings, sound recordings, and online resources. It has also compiled a comprehensive collection of documentation and scholarship relating to Dada. Researchers can read more about the movement and the Archive here. A keyword search reveals a significant number (85) of titles in the Archive related to Jewish artists and Jewish Studies. 



Location: Iowa Women’s Archives  

Papers, 1999-2007. 2 linear feet. 

Ina Perlstein Loewenberg had a diverse career as both a philosophy instructor at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, and as a Financial Systems Analyst at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, before she found her passion in photography. She began her work in the late 1986 and continued after her retirement in 1995. In 2004, Loewenberg published “The View from 70: Women’s Recollections and Reflection,” a compilation of photographs of and stories from women who were born in 1931 like she was. Her collection includes a copy of the book, along with research and presentation materials, and photographs she used to put the project together.  


LOWENFELS, WALTER (1897-1976) 

Location: University of Iowa Special Collections 

Papers, 1964. 1 linear foot.  

This collection contains correspondence and materials relating to Walter Lowenfels’ anthology of avant-garde poets, Poets of Today: A New American Anthology, published in 1964. Jewish poets are featured in this anthology.  



Location: Iowa Women’s Archives  

Papers, 1926-2002. 13 linear feet. 

Louise Noun was a feminist author, activist, and art collector who co-founded the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa. Researchers will find information about her work as an author in the Publication and Research Files series. These files cover her work on the books Strong Minded Women: The Emergence of the Woman-Suffrage Movement in Iowa, More Strong Minded Women, and Leader and Pariah: Annie Savery and the Campaign for Women’s Rights in Iowa.  

The Fine Arts series focuses on Noun’s passion for art. Noun graduated from Harvard with an MA in art history in 1933. She didn’t pursue art history professionally, but did become a collector, particularly of art by women, and was a patron of the Des Moines Art Center. Her personal art file lists all of the works by women which she collected. The rest of the series covers exhibits and catalogs where some of these pieces appeared. It also includes some materials related to Frida Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Loose Hair” which Noun sold to endow the Iowa Women’s Archives in 1990. 


REDMAN, BLANCHE (1901-1994) 

Location: Iowa Women’s Archives  

Papers, 1921-1994. 5 linear inches.  

Blanche Redman was born in 1901 in Ottumwa, Iowa. She had a career teaching English and German at St. Clair College in Port Huron, Michigan. Upon her retirement in 1969, she settled in Davenport, Iowa and found there a community of writers and poets. Redman was active in Writers Studio, Quad-City Writers, Quint-Cities Poets, the Iowa Poetry Association and was on the Governor’s Board of the Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest. She also led a campaign to uncover New Deal murals in Iowa, created during the Federal Art Project of the 1930s. Her papers deal largely with these artistic endeavors. The New Deal art in Iowa series documents Redman’s efforts to find and preserve murals in the form of correspondence and research. The Writing series includes awards, short stories, and a binder of Redman’s collected poetry.  



Location: University of Iowa Special Collections: msc0150 

648 linear feet. 

The Redpath Chautauqua Bureau was a commercial lecture bureau and booking agency for Chautauqua and lyceums throughout the United States and parts of Canada. Chautauqua were traveling lectures and presentations for educational and entertainment value during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection features materials related to fifteen Rabbis, who were among the speakers, as well as the brochure “Jewish Daily Forward.” 

Relevant items in collection: 

Jewish Daily Forward. Box 162. 

15 rabbis featured in the collection.  



Location: University of Iowa Special Collections 

The largest concrete and visual poetry archive in the world, the Sackner Archive holds a vast range of resources, from artist books to reference works to large-scale works of visual poetry. It highlights some of the most significant poet artists of the past century. It is over 75 thousand works of poetry collected by the Sackners since 1979. The Sackners chose the University of Iowa as the permanent home for their world-renowned collection, and these are the relevant works that relate to Judaism, Jewish life, and culture. 


Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Catalog 

Adolf Hoffmeister (1902-1973) was a lawyer, artist, author, poet, diplomat, caricaturist, playwright, ideologue, art school professor, and dedicated freedom fighter who aided Jewish refugees. The work of Hoffmeister is presented in this catalogue in several phases. 



Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Exhibit Catalog 

Emilio Isgro is an Italian artist and writer, known for his use of the erasure technique. This volume was realized for the inauguration of Isgro’s work, “The Bees of the Torah,” and a concert by Moni Ovadia for the re-opening of the Belforte Bookshop in Lovorno after 63 years of closure as a result of the wartime regime. The first part of the book is an illustrated timeline of Italian political and cultural history in the world, while the second part of the book illuminates Isgro’s work, which represents the “Jews as bees that extract the honey from the Book and carry it to the various groups that they encounter in their journeys.” 


AVEC L’OLEIL DU SAVOIR (Lalou, Frank, 1988) [French] 

Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Book 

French book of calligraphy, featuring Hebrew letters. 



Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Book 

An ethnopoetic anthology edited by Jerome Rothenberg, a poet and translator known for his experimental work. In his introduction, Rothenberg describes his preliminary work organizing this book and his visualization of it as “an image in this instance of some supreme Yiddish surrealistic vaudeville” that he could set into motion. Rothenberg adds a commentary section to each of the poems and provides a section on its source. 


BLUE: A NOVEL  (Zucker, Benjamin, 2000) 

Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Book 

Echoing the style of the Talmud, Benjamin Zucker’s first novel is described as “both a spiritual challenge and a gorgeous typographical object.” The text presents a continuing narrative in the center of each right-hand page, where a passage from the Mishna - ancient commentary on the Torah - would ordinarily be placed. 


COEXISTENCE (Logemann, Jane, 1993) 

Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Various Formats (artwork) 

This work is the cover for an announcement by the Abraham Fund, an organization established to promote Jewish-Arab coexistence. Logemann has repetitively written the Hebrew word, “people,” on half of this reproduced painting, and the Arabic word, “people,” on the other half. Logemann is an American abstract artist. 



Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Announcements and Exhibit Announcements; Booklets; Books; Exhibit Catalogs; Poem and Book Objects; Various Formats  

Search results (63) for multiple works related to Joelle Dautricourt, ia Paris-born graphic artist and sculptor whose work focuses on writing. Since the 1990s, Dautricourt has especially focused on Jewish writing through Hebrew typography and calligraphy. 


HEARTFIELD, JOHN (1891-1968) 

Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Announcements and Exhibit Announcements; Catalogs; Exhibit Catalogs; Periodicals; Various Formats 

Search results (19) for multiple works related to John Heartfield, a photomontage artist associated with the Dada movement in Berlin. 


HIDDEN THINGS IN THE TORAH (Yaniv, Samuel; Melmed, Pesach, 1973) 

Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Book 

Provides extensive numerical analysis of Hebrew words and diagrams including histograms depicted on computer printouts. 



Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Book 

David Rosenberg is an American poet, biblical translator, editor, and education. In this work, Rosenberg offers a synthesis of the literary aspects of the Hebrew Bible, restoring a sense of the original authors. 


MOSS, DAVID (1946- ) 

Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Announcements and Exhibit Announcements; Books; Exhibit Catalogs; Poem and Book Objects; Various Formats 

Search results (41) for multiple works related to David Moss, an artist who describes himself as an “illuminator, animator, and transformer of Jewish texts, objects, spaces, and souls.”  


MOUVEMENT LETTRISTE, LE: TEXTES. NO 17, FALL-WIN  (Isou, Isidore, 1989) [French] 

Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Periodicals 

Isadore Isou (1925-2007) was a Romanian-born French poet and visual artist who founded Lettrism, an art and literary movement which owed inspiration to Dada and Surrealism. This journal issue consists of several essays by Isou dealing with such topics as the principles of the Torah and Talmud, Sex-Shops, the Eiffel Tower, the poetry of Robert Sabatier, and Situationism. 



Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Book 

Gustave Metzger (1926-2017) was born to Polish-Jewish parents in Nuremberg, Germany in 1926 and came to Britain in 1939 as a refugee under the auspices of the Refugee Children Movement. Metzger is an artist and political activist who developed the concept of Auto-Destructive Art and the Art Strike. This book, edited by Bruce Gilcrist and Jo Joelson of London Fieldworks, explores the collaborative art project they conceived with Metzger. 


TORA (WEISUNG)-HALACHA (WEG) (Daniel, Peter, 1994-1995)  

Location: The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry 

Material: Various Formats 

In this work, the Hebrew word "Torah" (Pentateuch Law) is changed in five steps to the Hebrew word "Halacha" (Traditional Law). The German word "Weisung" means instruction, and "Weg" means path. The Hebrew root for “Halacha” is the same as the word for “walk,” that is, “laws that apply as one walks the paths of life.” 



Location: University of Iowa Special Collections. Msc0461 

Private press founded and operated by Allan and Cinda Kornblum in Iowa City in 1970. The collection includes subject files, correspondence, financial records, etc., relating to the daily operations and literary output of the press. The following materials explicitly reference Jewish life and culture: 

Jewish Book World. 1970- . Box 4. 

Jewish Week. 1970- . Box 4. 

Perl, Jonathan, Prime-Time Jew, 1990. 2 folders. Box M77. 

Tikkun/Jewish. 1970- . Box 8. 

Jewish Bulletin. 1970- . Box 4. 



Location: University of Iowa Special Collections. Smith Miniatures Collection. 

Calligraphed Torah scroll in Hebrew, possibly created to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the creation of Israel. Photographic reproduction.  


TUCKER, BERTHA KORN (1908-2010)  

Location: Iowa Women’s Archives  

Papers, 1920-1999. 2 linear feet. 

Bertha Korn Tucker was a dedicated writer with a passion for Judaism. Living most of her adult life in Des Moines, Iowa, Tucker took courses at Drake University into her 70s, even after earning a bachelor’s degree English in 1969. She also studied Yiddish Beth el Jacob synagogue in Des Moines. Most of Tucker’s papers deal with her creative writing. There are stories in English, Yiddish translations, as well as poems and papers about Jewish life and folk stories.  



Location: University of Iowa Special Collections. Zines and Fanzines Collection: Msc0331. Box 34. 

A publication of Zeek Media, Inc., a nonprofit organization that works to build community, identity, and culture for American Jews. Zeek is an award-winning journal whose contributors range from rabbis and professors to artists and poets. 


From Ina Loewenberg papers

Photographer Ina Loewenberg's work is featured on the cover of this issue of Feminist Studies and in an accompanying art essay. Cover image is "Self-Portrait with Peaches," 1991. Feminist Studies, Summer 1999.

From the Louise Rosenfield Noun papers

An avid art collector, Louise Noun is pictured here with a restored painting of Iowa suffragette Annie Savery.

From Louise Goldman papers

Event flyer for celebration of Louise Goldman's first book of poetry. Goldman was poet-in-residence at Davenport's Lincoln Center for the Cultural Arts in the 1990s.