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Women in Sport: An Iowa Women's Archives Resource Guide: Home

A guide to the collections housed at the Iowa Women's Archives from and about girls and women in sports, athletics, and gender equity.

An Introduction

Women in Sport

This guide brings together the collections in the Iowa Women’s Archives (IWA) that contribute to our understanding of the history and culture of women's sport and athletics in Iowa. The collections featured here are organized thematically.  The descriptions for each collection provide a brief overview of the individual or organization. A more detailed account of the collection and its relation to a particular topic is included in the finding aid in ArchivesSpace.  


















Women's physical educationThe University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women Records, 1900-2006, Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

The Iowa Women's Archives (IWA) at the University of Iowa Libraries has held the collections of girls and women in sport since its founding in 1992. Inspired by IWA co-founder Mary Louise Smith and stewarded by founding curator Kären Mason, the IWA held the Winners All: Women in Iowa Sports exhibit in 2009 dedicated to exploring and displaying its holdings related to women sport in Iowa. The exhibit featured photographs and artifacts from the collections of the Johnson County Historical Society, the Iowa Women’s Archives, and the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame and Museum, which helped tell the story of the participation of women and girls in organized sports in Iowa. Former UI Women’s athletics director Christine Grant, sports reporter for the Iowa City Press-Citizen Susan Harman, UI women’s basketball associate head coach  Jan Jensen, UI head volleyball coach Sharon Dingman, and UI health and sport studies visiting assistant professor Christina Johnson all participated in the exhibit's panel discussion on the experiences of Iowa's women athletes. 

In collaboration with the Department of American Studies' Susan Birrell, Catriona Parratt, and Jennifer Sterling, the Iowa Women's Archives' 25th anniversary project "6-on-6 Basketball and the Legacy of Girls’ and Women’s Sport in Iowa" furthered the Archives' sports holdings. The Archives holds approximately 50 collections relating to girls and women in sport that span the twentieth century. The collections in this guide shine a light on the lives of girls and women who participated in high school, collegiate, professional and recreational sports, as well as pioneering women in the fight for gender equity in sport and Title IX. 

About the Iowa Women's Archives

Mary Louise-Smith and Louise Noun, Des Moines, 1996.


The Louise Noun – Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women’s Archives is named for its founders, who established the archives in 1992 as a repository dedicated to collecting the history of Iowa women. The Archives fulfills its mission by collecting and making available primary sources about the historical experience of Iowa women throughout the state and beyond its borders from the nineteenth century to the present, reflecting the diversity of Iowa women across race, class, ethnicity, and gender identity.  It undertakes a robust outreach program to gather and preserve the history of groups underrepresented in archives. Some of our collection strengths include materials relating to rural and farm women, women in politics, LGBTQ individuals, African American women, Latinas, and Jewish women.

Contact Information for the Iowa Women's Archives

The Iowa Women’s Archives is located on the third floor of the Main Library of the University of Iowa.

Open to Researchers: 

Tuesday-Friday, 9:00-12:00 and 1:00-4:00

Mailing Address:

Iowa Women’s Archives

100 Main Library

University of Iowa Libraries

Iowa City, Iowa  52242-1420

Campus Mail: 3094 LIB

Phone: (319) 335-5068


Social Media: Facebook

Guide Authorship

The content of the LibGuide was assembled and created by IWA Graduate Assistant Emma Barton-Norris in 2022.

Emma processed several of IWA’s Six-on-Six Basketball collections in 2021. Pictured here with Title IX 40th anniversary commemorative basketball, Christine Grant papers.

Three Women for Equality

NEW: Three Women for Equality: Christine Grant, Peggy Burke, and Bonnie Slatton Fund

Three trailblazers who led the national effort for gender equality in athletics are being honored through a new fund dedicated to collecting, archiving, and highlighting their achievements and the efforts of other women.

You can learn more about the legacy of Grant, Burke, and Slatton here.

The Three Women for Equality: Christine Grant, Peggy Burke, and Bonnie Slatton Fund is made possible by a generous gift from Lark Birdsong, Iowa’s first women’s basketball coach, and a gift from Grant’s estate. Birdsong shared a wonderful tribute in The Gazette. You can also read more tributes to Grant here and here.

You can donate to the Three Women for Equality: Christine Grant, Peggy Burke, and Bonnie Slatton Fund here.