Women, Politics, and the Law: An Iowa Women's Archives Resource Guide
Women waiting to march for the Equal Rights Amendment, Washington, D.C., 1978.
National Organization for Women, Dubuque records.
Welcome to the home page for the Iowa Women's Archives (IWA) resource guide for Women, Politics, & the Law. General information about this guide and the IWA follows. The guide is arranged into the following sections, which you can navigate to using the links below:
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.
This guide brings together the collections in the Iowa Women’s Archives (IWA) that contribute to our understanding of women's participation in politics. The descriptions for each collection provide a brief overview of the individual or organization and the materials the collection contains, as well as a link to the more detailed collection descriptions (finding aids) in ArchivesSpace.
At the IWA, we understand political activism to be a broad spectrum encompassing many different forms of individual and group action that attempt to effect change in a community or institution. Political activities include, but are in no way limited to, electioneering and voter education, issue-based advocacy and education campaigns, impact litigation, labor organizing, public history projects and memory work, consciousness-raising and affinity groups, mutual aid and community resource provision, public protest, polemical writing and publishing, scholarly research, and artistic practice. This guide describes the IWA collections that are most representative of this intentionally expansive definition of political activism, but is not (and cannot be) an exhaustive accounting of the political behavior of the women whose lives are documented in the IWA's holdings.
We also recognize that when communities are harmed by systems of structural oppression, actions taken by members of those communities to survive and thrive are a form of resistance and necessarily political. Given that, we invite those who are interested in the history of political activism to consider as sources the family and personal papers of individuals from communities that have historically faced and continue to suffer from discrimination, disenfranchisement, and disempowerment in Iowa and the United States. We recommend perusing the following lists of collections organized around community identities for more details. Please note that these groupings are not mutually exclusive and individual subjects may appear on multiple lists.
Cross-Cultural Perspectives: this record group links together personal and family papers related to human migration and multicultural communities, encompassing a variety of ethnic and racial identities
Latinas and Their Families. See also:
Latinx Rights section of our Diversity & Social Justice Collections guide
Racism & Anti-Racism section of our Diversity & Social Justice Collections guide
Migration Is Beautiful online exhibit on Latinx immigrant experiences in Iowa
Mujeres Latinas Digital Collection in the Iowa Digital Library
See also: the Autobiographical Resources: Diaries, Memoirs & Oral Histories resource guide; though organized by format, not community or identity category, this guide gives a good overview of IWA collections featuring first-person, individual stories
The content of the LibGuide was assembled and created by Women in Politics Archivist Kate Orazem in 2023.
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
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