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Welcome to Special Collections

A guide to visiting the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Libraries.

Message From the Curator

Welcome to the Iowa Women’s Archives!

The Archives gathers the history of Iowa women, their families, and their communities as told through diaries, photos, scrapbooks, oral histories, organizational records, and other primary sources. Our collections reflect the diversity of Iowa women and the broad range of their experiences from the 19th century to the present, within the state and around the world.

For a glimpse of some of the stories in the Archives, check out our website. There you’ll discover the history of Iowa Latinas on the Migration is Beautiful site. You’ll open a window into the experiences of African American women students at the University of Iowa, page through a digital scrapbook documenting the women’s suffrage movement in Iowa, and find clues to the life of Mildred Benson, who wrote the first Nancy Drew detective novels.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Stop in to explore the Archives or contact us to find out how we can help you with your research. We look forward to working with you.

Kären Mason, Curator,
Iowa Women’s Archives

  What is the Iowa Women's Archives?

The Iowa Women’s Archives holds more than 1200 manuscript collections that chronicle the lives and work of Iowa women, their families, and their communities. These personal papers and organizational records date from the nineteenth century to the present. Together with oral histories, they document the activities of Iowa women throughout the state and beyond its borders. The Iowa Women’s Archives is open to the public.

To learn more, check out the IWA LibGuide.


  Using the Archives

The Iowa Women's Archives is part of the Special Collections department, but maintains a separate reading room. The IWA reading room is on the third floor of the Main Library at the University of Iowa, just down the hallway from the Special Collections reading room. The IWA reading room hours are different from Special Collections, but researchers are able to use IWA collections in either reading room as needed.

IWA collections appear in ArchivesSpace just like MsC and RG collections from Special Collections and University Archives, so you can still search through all finding aids in one place. We recommend registering as a patron prior to your first visit to help make your trip more efficient. Then simply visit the reading room on the third floor of the Main Library at any time during our open hours. If you need additional assistance while registering, any staff member will be happy to assist you.