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Women, Politics, and the Law: An Iowa Women's Archives Resource Guide: Activists & Organizers

Activist & Organizers: Table of Contents

This page contains a guide to the Iowa Women's Archives' collections related to individual political activists and organizers. Please use the links below to navigate between sections.

To view shortlists of activists associated with political organizations whose records the IWA also holds, see the “Political Organizations” tab. Many activists who appear on those lists are also listed here with additional context on the content of their collections. 


Activists & Organizers: A-G 

Activists & Organizers: H-O

Activists & Organizers: P-Z

Activists & Organizers: Oral History Collections

Activists & Organizers: A-G

  • Aguilera, Maria Mercedes. Papers. 1950-2013. 2.5 linear inches. A member of the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood of Cook’s Point in Davenport, Aguilera successfully organized against racial discrimination at the IHC Farmall plant in the 1970s. 

  • Anderson, Margaret ("Peg") (1928-). Papers, 1973-1978. 1 linear foot. President of Planned Parenthood of Eastern Iowa; chair of Iowa Women’s Political Caucus (IWPC) for Black Hawk county; later, statewide chair of IWPC and its Republican Task Force; and leader of the campaign for an Iowa ERA in 1980. Collection primarily documents her work with the Iowa and National Women’s Political Caucuses. 

  • Anderson, Ruth Bluford (1921-2013). Papers, 1977-1997. 0.5 linear inches. Social worker and professor, as well as the first Black woman elected to a Board of Supervisors in Iowa. This small collection consists mainly of Anderson’s speeches on women's issues; her 1985 autobiography is available in IWA’s collection of printed works.

  • Becker, Ruth Saltzmann (1922-2007). Papers, 1858-2012, 4.75 linear feet. While most of this collection consists of Becker’s personal papers documenting her Jewish family’s emigration to the United States in 1939, it also includes a set of political pins and approx. 5 linear inches of material on various service and advocacy groups Becker was involved with, including the Goodwill Industries of Southeast Iowa and ARC of Johnson County. 

  • Bridenstine, Jeanne (1923-2019). Papers, 1962-2014. 2 linear feet. First woman elected chairperson of the Jasper County Democratic Central Committee in 1972; collection reflects her service on that body, on the Jasper County Board of Supervisors, and in the Iowa Women’s Political Caucus. 

  • Briggs, Shirley (1918-2004). Papers, 1840-2008. 64 linear feet. Collection extensively documents Briggs’ roles as a founding member of the Rachel Carson Council, established in 1965 as a pesticide research information clearinghouse, and as a key member of the Audobon Society, where she served as editor for its publication The Atlantic Naturalist from 1948-1969. Briggs also worked as an illustrator and diorama painter for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. 

  • Brown, Paula Watts (1909-1974). Papers, 1930-1974. 13 linear feet. Eclectic civic activist in Des Moines; collection documents several of Brown’s campaigns including the conservation of Gray’s Lake and improvement of local schools. 

  • Buckley, Susan. Papers, 1975-2015. 5.8 linear feet. University of Iowa administrator whose collection reflects her involvement with WRAC, the Women Against Racism committee’s 1989 conference, anti-pornography activism in Iowa City, advocacy for equal pay and affirmative action initiatives, and support for LGBTQ+ rights.  

  • Bucksbaum, Carolyn “Kay” (1929-). Papers, 1949-1998. 2 linear feet. Civic activist whose collection documents her involvement in the local Jewish community, the Des Moines symphony, the YWCA, the League of Women Voters, and the Proteus Club. 

  • Burleson, Jane (1928-). Papers, 1931-1998. 3.5 linear inches. Packinghouse worker and union organizer who became the first Black woman elected to the Fort Dodge City Council; this small collection includes biographical information and materials on the history of the Black community in Fort Dodge. 

  • Campbell, Bonnie (1948-). Papers, 1992-1999. 5 linear inches. Iowa Democratic Party chair, 1987-1991 and Iowa’s first woman Attorney General, 1990-1994; appointed Director of the Violence Against Women Office of the US Department of Justice in 1995. This small collection primarily consists of Campbell’s speeches on intimate partner violence. 

  • Cano Martínez, María. Papers. 1976-2017. 2.5 linear inches. Cano Martinez served as president of the Johnson county chapter of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and was involved with many other organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Cuban Refugee Committee. The collection primarily consists of clippings, scrapbooks, and a family history that document Cano Martínez’s work, especially her organization of Spanish interpretation programs at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, first as a volunteer and later professionally. 

  • Catalano, Tess (1959-1999). Papers, 1959-2002. 1.75 linear feet. Activist and singer-songwriter whose collection documents the Iowa City lesbian community and feminist actions such as Take Back the Night.

  • Cherry, Kittredge (1957-) and Audrey Lockwood (1957-). Papers, 1970-2009. 3.3 linear feet. Personal papers of a lesbian couple who met at the University of Iowa in the 1970s and later lived in Japan and California; collection extensively documents Cherry's work as a member of the clergy of the Metropolitan Community Church, a Christian denomination focused on ministry to the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Coggeshall, Mary Jane (1836-1911). Artifacts, 1896-1909. Small collection of suffragist flags, coins, and other ephemera, as well as similar items referencing Des Moines women’s clubs and political campaigns. Includes a small amount of biographical material on Coggeshall, a prominent leader in the Iowa movement for women’s suffrage. 

  • Collison, Margaret Davis (1921-2014). Papers, 1937-1990. 3.5 linear feet. Collection documents Collison’s work as a member of the Iowa Board of Regents, 1971-1977, as well as her involvement in the League of Women Voters, the Iowa Women’s Political Caucus, and her work on Roxanne Conlin’s gubernatorial campaign. 

  • Conlin, Roxanne Barton (1944-). Papers, 1969-1998. 45 linear feet. Federal prosecutor and Iowa Assistant Attorney General, member of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, and 1982 Democratic candidate for Iowa governor. Collection documents these activities and includes many of her speeches on topics such as sexual harassment and assault.  

  • Cooper, Cecile (1900-1997). Papers, 1964-1998. 3 linear inches. Davenport civil rights activist involved with the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and the Catholic Interracial Council, among many other organizations; her small collection primarily consists of clippings, some documenting Cooper’s work and that of groups she was involved with. 

  • Costantino, Amako “A. Mori” (1924-2020). Papers, 1944-2012. 20 linear feet. Collection documents Costantino’s activism with several organizations, including the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, the League of Women Voters of Johnson County, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; subjects of note include an investigations of employment discrimination t and fair housing in Iowa City (including hundreds of landlord surveys). Family papers and a subject file document Costantino and her family’s experiences as Japanese-Americans unjustly imprisoned during WWII. 

  • Cothorn, Marguerite (1909-1998). Papers, 1928-1995. 2.75 linear inches. Social worker and chair of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 1983-1984; this small collection contains biographical information and several reports on Des Moines-area social services. 

  • Doderer, Minnette (1923-2005). Papers, 1944-2005. 29.25 linear feet. A multi-issue organizer and state legislator for Johnson county (1964-1979 and 1981-2001), Doderer was an influential leader in many organizations, including the Iowa Women’s Political Caucus (charter member), the League of Women Voters, the National Organization for Women, and the Iowa delegation to the 1977 International Women's Year conference. 

  • Donovan, Vergene (1924-). Papers, 1975-2012. 1 linear inch. Republican activist from Spencer. This small collection contains correspondence and issues of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women's newsletter, The Iowa Indicator, 1987-1989; Donovan was its editor. 

  • Egenes, Joan Van Der Naald (1936-). Papers, 1966-1997. 2.5 linear feet. President of several Republican women’s organizations, a role documented here only in her photograph album; also includes an extensive series of materials from her time as president of the Boone Council of Parent Teacher Associations. 

  • Eggers, Lolly (1929-2001). Papers, 1963-1994. 1.5 linear feet. Director of the Iowa City Public Library, 1974-1994; collection documents her work with the Iowa League of Women Voters, the Johnson County Commission on the Status of Women, and other political groups, as well as a sex discrimination suit filed by Eggers and other women employed by the city. 

  • Ely, Polly (1920-2008). Papers, 1937-2008. 4.2 linear feet. Multi-issue organizer whose collection documents her efforts to establish Cedar Rapids’ first Civil Rights Commission, encourage community discussion of global affairs, advocate for peace, and end hunger and poverty. 

  • Everett, Beverly George (1926-2001). Papers, 1856-2001 (bulk 1941-2001). 12 linear feet. Everett was appointed by two presidents to serve as a representative for rural women on the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year, 1976-1977. This collection primarily documents her work as an organizer and traveling speaker for the American Association of University Women and her local Farm Bureau. 

  • Fleming, Merle (1926-2006). Papers, 1947-2005. 28 linear feet. Iowa Assistant Attorney General (1980-1989). Collection includes briefs and opinions as well as extensive records of Fleming’s work with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and as a consultant helping financial institutions comply with affirmative action laws. 

  • Furgerson, Betty Jean (1927-). Papers, 1921-2010. 6 linear feet. Teacher and social worker whose collection documents her work as a university regent, ca. 1993-1996, and her presidency of the Iowa Public Television Broadcasting Board, as well as her work as director of the Waterloo Human Rights Commission, 1974-1992. 

  • Gammack, Katy (1941-). Papers, 1976-2007. 2 linear feet. Reproductive rights activist who was a member of the Iowa Board of Medical Examiners, which investigates physician misconduct cases. Collection also contains newsletters of Money and Politics in Iowa, an organization Gammack co-founded to research and publicize financial contributions to Iowa politicians, and some records of the right-wing monitoring group Iowa Freedom Foundation. 

  • Geadelmann, Patricia. Papers, 1965-2006. 3.1 linear feet. Physical education professional and Title IX consultant who was a strong ERA proponent, chair of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, 1972-1988, and served as Iowa's representative to the Fifty States Project, which sought to eliminate sex discrimination from state laws. 

  • Goldman, Louise (1924-1998). Papers, 1933-1997. 1 linear foot. Activist and poet whose collection documents her work with the Women's Community Leadership Institute Program, several community health organizations, and the State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Also includes many of Goldman’s speeches and writings. 

  • Grant, Christine (1936-2021). Papers, 1952-2022. 30 linear feet. Longtime University of Iowa women’s athletics administrator, faculty member, and advocate for gender equity in collegiate sports. Collection includes Grant's speeches and publications in support of women’s sports and extensive documentation of Title IX advocacy and litigation. 

  • Griffin, Edna (1909-2000). Papers, 1948-2004. 2 linear inches. Known as “the Rosa Parks of Iowa,” Griffin organized a campaign to desegregate Katz’s Drug Store in Des Moines. Collection includes an interview with Griffin’s daughter Phyllis, photocopies of Griffin’s FBI file detailing her Progressive Party work in the 1940s and 1950s, and clippings marking the 50th anniversary of the Katz campaign. 

Activists & Organizers: H-O

  • Harper, Virginia (1929-1997). Papers, 1940-2005. 1 linear foot. Lifelong civil rights activist who was one of five Black women to integrate the dormitories at the University of Iowa in 1946; collection contains biographical information, records of the Fort Madison NAACP, of which Harper was president, and materials on the successful 1968-1976 campaign to prevent the rerouting of Highway 61 through Fort Madison’s Black and Latino/a/e/x neighborhood.

  • Harper-Bardach, Phyllis (1928-2015). Papers, 1940-1998. 1.5 linear feet. Educator and advocate for Deaf education who developed pedagogies emphasizing parent participation, inspired by her Deaf son, Freeman Harper. Collection documents this work, including her service with national organizations such as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, as well as extensive biographical material.

  • Harris, Claudine (1926-2022). Papers, 1903-2022. 4 linear feet. Technical writer for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where she wrote grant applications for research projects related to children with disabilities; collection documents her extensive volunteer work with the Johnson County and Iowa chapters of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

  • Havlic, Martha (1942-2013). Papers, 1914-2014. 7 linear inches. A survivor of spinal cord injury who was involved in the lesbian and feminist communities in Iowa City and an advocate for accessibility for disabled people; collection includes photographs, some of Havlic's writings, and copies of the newsletter The "L" Word, for which Havlic served as mailer following her move to California.

  • Hennessey, Sister Gwen (1932-2008). Papers, 2000-2005. 2 linear inches. Peace activist imprisoned for protesting at the School of the Americas; collection includes biographical material and several videos of Hennessey, including footage of a religious leave-taking service conducted shortly before she surrendered to prison authorities.

  • Hoit, Judy Herron (1945-2019). Papers, 1950-1998. 0.25 linear inches. Small collection of newspaper clippings, a memoir, and two television documentaries about Hoit, who was an advocate for disabled people and the winner of Ms. Wheelchair Iowa of 1996.

  • Hornstein, Frances “Francie” (1947-). Papers, 1972-1999. 1.25 linear feet. Member of the Iowa City feminist movement who was involved in efforts to create childcare collectives and who wrote for the Ain't I a Woman newspaper. Collection primarily records her work as a co-founder of the Feminist Women’s Health Center Self-Help Clinic One in California. 
  • Hoyt, Adelia M. Papers, 1915-2011. 0.25 linear inches. Small collection containing a memoir and some materials about the Iowa Home for Sightless Women, which Hoyt, who was visually impaired, helped establish to provide income and housing for others with similar disabilities.

  • Hodne, Carol (1953-). Papers, 1921-2005. 1.5 linear feet. Organizer of grassroots coalitions including the North American Farm Alliance which advocated for farmers during the 1980s farm crisis. Collection also includes a study Hodne conducted on the effects of concentrated animal feeding operations on air quality, and documentation of her work as a volunteer for a women’s health clinic in Ames. 

  • Hutchison, Charlotte (Sherry) (1919-2018). Papers, 1973-2004. 7.5 linear inches. This small collection documents several of Hutchison’s activist pursuits, including organizing  an “Alternatives to Imprisonment” conference in 1979, attempting to establish a citizen review board to address excessive force complaints against police in Des Moines in the 1990s, creating anti-racist and feminist workshops led by Kesho Y. Scott, and various efforts with anti-war and nuclear disarmament groups. 

  • Jack, Jill (1957-). Papers, 1967-2006. 5 linear inches. Longtime Lesbian Alliance leader whose collection features records of various Iowa City feminist and lesbian groups including the Women’s Coffeehouse, the Grace and Rubies women’s restaurant, and the Iowa City Women’s Press. Topics include women’s liberation, LGBTQ+ rights, environmentalism, fat acceptance, and anti-racism. 

  • Jens, Arlene (1926-2019). Papers, 1962-2006. 1 linear foot. Collection contains topical files reflecting Jens’ work as a lobbyist to the Iowa legislature on abortion issues; collection includes materials related to many organizations that either supported or opposed abortion access, such as the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, the Iowa Association for Medical Control of Abortion, NARAL, Iowans for L.I.F.E., and Right to Life of Scott County. 

  • Kelly, Alberta Metcalf (1899-1994). Papers, 1899-1994. 2 linear feet. High school teacher active in state and national Democratic party politics, 1950s-1960s; collection primarily reflects her work through clippings files and photographs of Kelly with politicians. 

  • Kent, Corita (1918-1986). Artist and teacher who was originally associated with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart but later left religious life; her work reflects her political views on war, poverty, and human rights. The collection of her student and friend, Josephine Pletscher (1918-2013), contains correspondence, clippings, publications, and original artwork documenting Corita’s life and work. 

  • Kilbourn, Kathy (1944-). Papers, 1936-1992. 10 linear inches. Collection documents Kilbourn’s roles as a member of NOW Cedar Rapids, a board member of the Intervention in Violence Against Women (IV Project), and the treasurer for the Linn County ERA Coalition.

  • Knowler, Faith (1911-2002). Papers, 1936, 1952-1995. 1 linear foot. Longtime member and president of the League of Women Voters of Johnson County, 1973-1975. Collection documents her work on Youth Homes, a program that grew out of a LWV study of community needs; the Women's Institute for Community Leadership; and conferences on social services organized by Knowler.

  • Kramer, JoAnn. Papers. 1941-2004. 1 linear foot. Advocate for people with disabilities, particularly those caused by brain injuries; collection contains newsletters of the advocacy organization BRAIN of Iowa, which Kramer co-founded, and some clippings related to her service on the Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities. 

  • Laughlin, Ruth (1954-1986). Papers, 1956-1997, 3.35 linear feet. Laughlin’s correspondence, diaries, and writing for publications such as Community (a progressive alternative weekly in Philadelphia) reflect her involvement in the peace and anti-nuclear movements as well as the Quaker-derived Movement for a New Society. Laughlin was raped and murdered in her home in 1986. 

  • Levin, Myrtilla F. (1938-). Papers, 1971-2010.  7.5 linear inches. President of the Jasper County Republican Party, 1972-1973 who also served as mayor of Newton, 1973-1975, and executive director of Iowa Business Council beginning in 1986. 

  • Lipsky, Joan (1919-2015). Papers, 1880-2015. 16 linear feet. Republican state legislator, 1967-1979, serving Linn county, and longtime organizer with state and national Republican women’s organizations, as well as various Cedar Rapids community services. Collection strengths include Lipsky’s work on the juvenile justice system and social services for children and people with disabilities. 

  • Lloyd, Billie D. (1940-1991). Papers, 1957-1995. 2.5 linear inches. Social worker and community organizer who served on the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women and the Iowa Board of Corrections. Collection mainly documents the annual Quad Cities Conference on Black Families which Lloyd established in 1979. 

  • Lloyd-Jones, Jean (1929-). Papers, 1964-2014. 12.5 linear feet. Democratic legislator serving Johnson county (1979-1995) and influential organizer with many groups, including the League of Women Voters, the United Nations Association, the Iowa Peace Institute, the Governor's Task Force on Government Ethics and the Iowa delegation to the 1977 International Women’s Year conference. Collection also extensively documents Lloyd-Jones' passion for railroad expansion and revitalization and her involvement with Iowa City’s sister city program with Yamanashi, Japan. 

  • Lomas, Anna Cochrane (1896-1991). Papers, 1917-1981. 5 linear feet. Collection documents Lomas’ extensive activism with various state and national Republican organizations from the 1940s to the 1960s, including a stint as a member of the Republican National Committee, 1952-1964; also includes an extensive set of political ephemera and jewelry. 

  • Madden-Bittle, Barbara (1939-). Papers, 1970-1979. 5 linear inches. Collection consists primarily of newsletters, memos, and other documents related to Madden-Bittle's involvement with Iowans for Medical Control of Abortion, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the Polk County Rape/Sexual Assault Care Center.

  • Matsushita, Jun-Nicole (1976-). Papers, 1999-2010. 10 linear inches. Sports historian, content creator, and powerlifter whose collection documents her Help Us Give Slings (HUGS) campaign, inspired by the 2004 Indian tsunami, to donate slings to mothers affected by natural disasters.

  • McCollum, Margaret (1916-2006). Papers, 1942-2008. 4.5 linear feet. Collection documents McCollum’s extensive work with the American Association of University Women and the Des Moines Council of Parents and Teachers. 

  • McCormick, Dale (1947-). Papers, 1958-1997. 4.5 linear feet. Carpenter and politician who grew up in Iowa and later served in several statewide political offices in Maine. The collection records McCormick’s varied activism which included: lesbian community organizing in Iowa City in the 1970s; founding and leading Women Unlimited, a job training program for women in the trades; Democratic party conventions; and welfare reform.

  • McDonald, Margaret (1925-2014). Papers, 1964-2004. 2 linear feet. Collection documents McDonald’s extensive activism in the Republican Party, including service as co-chair of the Iowa Republican Party, 1973-1980, and includes a set of McDonald’s speeches on women’s issues. 

  • McGill, Pearl (1894-1924). Muscatine button worker and labor activist; this collection consists of her family papers, which contain correspondence, postcards, and newspaper clippings documenting McGill’s key role in the button worker’s strike of 1911-1912. 

  • McNeill, Amelia (1890-1973). Papers, 1929-1971. 2.5 linear inches. Farm woman who was appointed to serve out her husband’s term on the Rural Electrification Association (REA) of Monona county after his death, and later elected to her own seat, becoming the first woman officer of the REA; this small collection includes REA annual reports, some of McNeill’s writings, Interstate Conference of Farm Women programs, and extension lessons on homemaking techniques. 

  • Meade, Magdalen (1913-2005). Papers, 1891-1992. 7 linear inches. Henry County Democratic Party chairperson who worked on Roxanne Conlin’s 1982 gubernatorial campaign. 

  • Morris, Arlene (1926-2016). Papers, 1944-1966. 1 linear inch. This small collection contains records of the Know Your Neighbor program, which Morris, the first Black woman licensed by the Iowa State Board of Psychology, participated in from 1960-1967; the group organized events across Iowa featuring a panel discussion on the topic of tolerance with women of different racial and religious backgrounds.

  • Muhanji, Cherry (1939-). Papers, 1984-2006. 5 linear inches. Black lesbian poet, mother, and academic who entered the University of Iowa as an undergraduate at the age of forty-six and went on to become a professor and novelist. Collection includes writings, photographs, and a video of a brown-bag discussion with Muhanji and other Black LGBTQ+ women discussing identity, homophobia, racism and sexism. 

  • Muñoz, Sister Irene (1936-). Papers, 1973-2006. 0.25 linear inches. Small collection of clippings about Muñoz’s work with the Muscatine Migrant Committee as well as a 1973 copy of a 1973 interview with Muñoz about her observations of the People’s Republic of China. 

  • Muñoz, Sister Maria Luisa ("Molly") (1937-). Papers, 1972-2006. 0.25 linear inches. Small collection of mostly photocopied materials including correspondence, clippings, and programs related to the Muñoz sisters’ work with the Muscatine Migrant Committee health program; includes a copy of Sr. Molly Muñoz’s 1978 arrest record. 

  • Murphy, Marilyn (1921-2012). Papers, 1973-2010. 12 linear feet. Catholic social justice worker whose collection documents her work in the Iowa Church Leaders Peace Caravan and Siouxlanders Concerned About the Nuclear Arms Race, as well as the ERA committee of the Siouxland Women’s Political Caucus. 

  • Mullen, Peg (1917-2009). Papers, 1966-2010. 5.25 linear feet. Collection documents Mullen’s anti-war activism, which began after her son, Michael, was killed by “friendly fire” in Vietnam in 1970. 

  • Nash, Martha (1925-2000). Papers, 1939-2000. 2.75 linear feet. Executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Waterloo, 1981-1995; collection reflects Nash’s service with the Black Hawk county NAACP beginning in 1962 and her chairpersonship of the Black Hawk County Conference on Religion and Race, 1963-1964. Most extensively, the papers document Nash’s work with the national and Dubuque Councils of Catholic Women's efforts to bring about religious and social reform after Vatican II. 

  • Neuhauser, Mary C. (1934-). Papers, 1968-1999. 13.8 linear feet. Iowa City Council member, mayor, and state legislature from the 1970s through the 1990s. Collection also documents her work with various local arts and economic development organizations. 

  • Nielsen, Joyce (1933-). 9 linear feet. Papers, 1951-1996. Democratic state legislator for Linn county, 1989-1993; collection also documents Nielsen’s work with Cedar Rapids community organizations, including her tenants’ rights advocacy with Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, feminist activism via the local YWCA, and a League of Women Voters study of students who dropped out of area high schools in 1970. 

  • Noun, Louise Rosenfield (1908-2002). Papers, 1926-2002. 13 linear feet. Des Moines activist, art collector, author, and co-founder of the Iowa Women’s Archives; among many other organizations, the collection documents her work as a co-founder of NOW Des Moines and with the Iowa Civil Liberties Union. 

  • Novick, Naomi (1932-). Papers, 1922-2016. 3.75 linear feet. Iowa City councilor and mayor in the 1990s, as well as a prominent member of the Johnson county League of Women Voters, various local arts organizations, and a sister city program with Yamanashi, Japan. Collection also includes correspondence on the shooting of Eric Shaw by an Iowa City police officer and the subsequent formation of a Police Citizens Review Board. 

  • O’Brien, Denise (1949-). Papers, 1964-1997. 4.3 linear feet. Organic farmer and political activist who helped organize the first Iowa meeting of the Farm Unity Coalition and served as president of National Family Farm Coalition; collection documents this work as well as her role as a founding member of the Women, Food & Agriculture Network (WFAN). 

Activists & Organizers: P-Z

  • Pardun, Patricia (1925-2022). Papers, 1956-1978. 2 linear feet. Longtime Republican activist whose collection reflects her service as vice chair of the Iowa Republican Party, 1967-1973, as well as her involvement with the Women's Division of the Republican National Committee, the National Federation of Republican Women, and the Iowa Council of Republican Women. 

  • Paul, Dorothy (1927-). Papers, 1955-2016. Executive Director of the Iowa Division of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, 1979-2000, an organization that aims to increase U.S. participation in international institutions; collection reflects that work, including Paul’s efforts to organize local programs for International Women’s Day and an annual walk to show solidarity with women in Afghanistan. 

  • Plasencia, Ila (1927-). Papers, 1930-1991. First president of the women’s LULAC Council 308 in Des Moines; collection contains a few programs of LULAC Council 306 events and business records of LULAC’s Midwest Educational Resources Development Fund. 

  • Puttmann, Sally. Papers, 1994-1998. 2 linear inches. Elected president of the Woodbury County Farm Bureau in 1981, the first woman to serve in that role in any Iowa county. Collection primarily documents Puttmann’s advocacy to ease the barriers to young farmers acquiring land. 

  • Rabenold, Jo. Papers, 1965-1983. 3.75 linear feet. Multi-issue activist and major figure in the Iowa City lesbian community. Collection includes material related to various Iowa City feminist organizations, including the Emma Goldman Clinic, the Gay Liberation Front, the Lesbian Alliance (including a significant run of Better Homes and Dykes, the group’s newsletter), the Women's Coffeehouse, RVAP, and WRAC. 

  • Ramirez, Merle. Papers, 1987-2016. 2.5 linear inches. Organizer with United Auto Workers and LULAC Council 10, UAW); political activities documented in her papers include voter registration drives and work with the Iowa Latino Education Association and related organizations. 

  • Reed, Sue M. (1910-2006). Papers, 1934-1996. 5 linear inches. Republican activist whose collection includes correspondence, yearbooks, and organizational histories reflecting her time as state president of the Iowa Council of Republican Women, 1963-1964, and a scrapbook documenting a bicentennial Iowa First Ladies Dolls in Inaugural Gowns exhibit.

  • Riesz, Elizabeth D (1937-2019). Papers. 1966-2015. 2 linear feet. Advocate for the expansion of disability services and the rights of disabled people, particularly in Johnson County. Riesz's daughter Sarah was one of the first children with Down Syndrome to be integrated into the Iowa City public school system during a time in which people with intellectual disabilities were typically institutionalized. Sarah Riesz's personal materials are located in Box 1 of the collection. The collection also documents Elizabeth Riesz's collaboration with disability activists in Osaka, Japan.

  • Rundquist, Maria (1951-). Papers, 1959-2016. 7.5 linear inches. Collection documents Rundquist’s service on the Iowa Commission on Latino Affairs (including correspondence with school-aged children) as well as her role as an advisor to the Republican caucus of the U.S. Senate on Latino/a/e/x issues. 

  • Ryan-Busch, Janette (1955-). Papers, 1989-2006. 7.5. linear inches. Johnson County farmer who was involved in protesting urban sprawl and rezoning of agricultural land to accommodate residential development; however, this collection primarily reflects Ryan-Busch's advocacy for standards defining organic farming and produce. 

  • Sandage, Shirley (1927-2012). Papers, 1927-2012 (bulk 1964-1998). 7.25 linear feet. Mason City civil rights activist; collection primarily documents her work with the Migrant Action Program (MAP), an organization she founded to study and improve conditions for itinerant agricultural laborers and their families, as well as her involvement in The Door Opener, a resource center for women, and the Older Women's League. 

  • Scharnau, Ruth (1933-). Papers, 1973-2013. 5.6 linear feet. Collection documents Scharnau’s role as a founding member of the Dubuque chapters of NOW and PFLAG, as well as her varied activism with 1000 Friends of Iowa and other environmental causes, nuclear disarmament, peace, and Democratic political campaigns. Collection also reflects Scharnau’s involvement in the "Faces and Voices" conference, an annual event sponsored by the Dubuque Human Rights Commission following racist violence and KKK activity in the early 1990s. 

  • Schneiders, Jean (1935-) and John L. (1933-2019). Papers, 1962-1971. 2.5 linear inches. Married couple involved in civil rights campaigns in Davenport schools; collection includes a small amount of newsletters, minutes, and clippings related to the work of the Davenport Catholic Interracial Council and the local NAACP chapter. 

  • Schramm, Dorothy (1909-2006). Papers, 1938-2006. 6 linear feet. Burlington civic activist; collection documents Schramm’s work with various groups promoting the United Nations, her organization of an Atomic Energy Week in 1947 and a survey on race relations in 1950, and her editorial work for Iowa and the World, a publication raising awareness of Iowa’s connections to international art, commerce, and politics. 

  • Shipton, Janet (1923-2019). Papers, 1936-1991. 3.5 linear feet. Johnson County Supervisor, 1978-1980, and daughter of British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. The collection also documents Shipton’s work with the Iowa and Missouri Leagues of Women Voters and her construction and operation of a low-income housing unit in West Branch. 

  • Silander, Aaron (1950-). Papers, 1973-2004. 2 linear inches. Iowa City feminist involved in many organizations, including the Women's Liberation Front and WRAC; collection is focused on Silander’s role as a co-founder of the Iowa City Women's Press, and includes notes from early organizational meetings, an academic paper on Press history written by Silander, and various Press publications including The Common Woman and Fat Politics. 

  • Sippy, Marilyn (1935-). Papers, 1955-2016. 10 linear inches. Marion teacher whose collection mainly documents her involvement in the Peace Inquiry and Action Group, which opposed nuclear testing and US military interventionism, and UNICEF. 

  • Smith, Mary Louise (1914-1997). Papers, 1812-1997 (bulk 1960-1997). 77 linear feet. Longtime member of the Republican National Committee and its first woman chair, 1974-1977; member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1981-1984; board member for Planned Parenthood of Mid-Iowa, 1986-1992; and co-founder of the Iowa Women’s Archives. Smith’s collection primarily documents her work with the RNC and Republican women’s organizations, as well as her support for abortion rights and the ERA. 

  • Smith, Sondra (1948-). Papers, 1965-2010. 5 linear feet. Longtime catering manager at the University of Iowa Memorial Union who was active in the Iowa City women’s movement. Collection documents Smith’s role as a co-founder of Dum-Dum Day Care, a feminist childcare cooperative and her membership on the advisory board of the Emma Goldman Clinic; also included are miscellaneous feminist publications and an extensive series on Smith’s catering career. 

  • Spencer, Lonabelle Kaplan (1925-2011). Papers, 1931-2007. 29.75 linear feet. Legislative chair for the American Association of University Women whose collection reflects her varied activism, including: a campaign to convince telephone directory companies to list married women’s first names; support for the ERA; opposing financial discrimination against women in trust law; her project encouraging other states to follow Iowa’s example in mandating equal gender representation on state boards and commissions; and her efforts to mitigate odor pollution from hog farming. 

  • Stroud, Katherine (1913-1996). Papers, 1940-2001. 4 linear inches. This small collection documents Stroud’s role as the leader of the League of Women Voters’ successful 1949 campaign to change the Des Moines city government from a commissioner to a city manager system, as well as her work with the American Patients Association. 

  • Terronez, Mary (1918-2009). Papers, 1936-2018. 5 linear inches. Community organizer and advocate for Spanish-speaking communities in Cook’s Point barrio and the Quad Cities generally; active member of LULAC Council 10 and the Muscatine Migrant Committee. 

  • Till-Retz, Roberta (1940-). Papers, 1970-2006. 7.75 linear feet. Noted labor educator, union officer, historian of women in the labor movement, and longtime program coordinator at the University of Iowa Labor Center. Collection includes materials related to labor organizing at the University of Iowa, research and teaching files on labor history, workplace redesign, and plant closings, as well as correspondence with union leaders, union manuals, and contracts. 

  • Tinsman, Maggie (1936-). Papers, 1971-2015. 32 linear feet. Republican state legislator serving Scott county (1989-2007) who was involved with a number of Republican women’s organizations and state and national associations for county officials. Tinsman’s work with the anti-trafficking organization she founded in 2008, Braking Traffik, is also well-represented in the collection.

  • Van Allen, Abigail (1922-2008). Papers, 1962-2008. 3.8 linear feet. Civic activist whose collection extensively documents historic preservation efforts in Iowa City as well as other municipal concerns, such as flood and traffic planning. 

  • Werner, Marta (1906-1989). Papers, 1892-1989. 5 linear feet. Longtime advocate for and correspondent with people incarcerated at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison in the 1970s and 1980s; collection also documents Werner’s opposition to the proposed rerouting of Highway 61 through a Black and Latino/a/e/x neighborhood. 

  • White, Maude Esther (1913-2003). Papers, 1957-1996. 8 linear inches. Served as the first affirmative action administrator for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 1973-1978. Collection contains biographical material, records of the Des Moines Tutoring Center, which White founded and ran out of her home from 1980-1991, and a report by the educational and cultural committee of the Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans, which White chaired. 

  • Wiesenfeld, Sally (1923-2017). Papers, 1969-2001. 5 linear inches. Anti-war activist whose collection primarily documents her work with Another Mother for Peace in the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area. 

  • Williams, Verda (1944-2021). Papers, 1965-2004. 1 linear foot. Decorated writer, producer, and presenter of radio and television programs; collection contains audio interviews with prominent Iowan civil rights activists conducted for the television special "Black Des Moines" and records signed by artists interviewed on “Positively Black,” a weekly current-events show Williams produced for WNBC in New York in the 1970s. Also includes some production records for a minority student recruitment ad created for Iowa State in 1987. 

  • Yanney, Linda (1955-). Papers, 1948-2000. Iowa City activist whose collection reflects her involvement with WRAC and RVAP, as well as a variety of LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations. Also includes subject files and other materials related to her dissertation on the history of the Iowa City women’s movement. Various Iowa political campaigns and events are reflected in this varied collection, including Yanney’s work on Jean Lloyd-Jones’s 1992 US Senate campaign and the coming-out of a Des Moines school board member in 1995. 

  • Ziese, Nancylee (1938-1917). Papers, 1972-2017. 4.5 linear feet. Republican activist and advocate for abortion rights and the ratification of the Iowa ERA. Collection also documents Ziese’s work on electoral campaigns for Joy Corning and Maggie Tinsman and for Project Peach, a community gardening and beautification effort in Sioux City. 

Activists & Organizers: Oral History Collections

  • Black Des Moines: Voices Seldom Heard. A series of the Verda Williams papers. Oral history recordings and transcripts, 1985-1986. 4 linear inches. Contains interviews about memories of Des Moines with Black activists Edna Griffin and Marguerite Cothorn. 
  • Iowa Labor History Oral Project. Oral history collection of Iowa workers and labor organizers which features interviews with many women involved in labor issues, including several who were also involved in other political activities. Interviews currently accessible via the Iowa Digital Library include: Betty Talkington, director of women’s activities for the Iowa Federation of Labor (IFL), who discusses labor’s role in legislative reapportionment; Janice Laue, the first women executive director of the IFL; Janet Fife-LaFrenz, a leader in the 1970 Keokuk teachers’ strike; Sarah Swisher, political director for the SEIU Local 199, who was involved in advocating for safer working conditions for nurses and the effort to overturn right-to-work laws in Iowa; and Sheri Carnahan, political rep for AFSCME Council 61, whose interviews describe Iowa labor’s involvement in local, statewide, and national politics, as well as her neighborhood organizing in the Quad Cities in the 2000s. 

  • Mujeres Latinas Oral History Project. Oral history interviews, transcripts, and personal papers, 2003-2017. 2.5 linear feet. 120 interviews (30 in Spanish) with Latino/a/e/x, primarily Chicano/a or Mexican-American residents of Iowa. Major community organizers represented in the collection include Ernest and Estefanía Rodriguez, Henry and Lucy Vargas, Mary Terronez, the Muñoz sisters, Juan and Marta Cadena, Marta Werner, Ila Plasencia, Alejandra Porrez Lozano, Maria Mercedes Aguilera, and many more.You can find a complete guide to the Mujeres Latinas collection here

  • Voices From the Land: An Iowa Oral History Project. Oral history recordings and transcripts, 2000-2001. 18 linear inches. Interviews collected as part of the Iowa Women’s Archives’ Rural Women Project; features women active in the 1980s farm crisis and with organizations such as PrairieFire Rural Action and the National Farmers Organization. 

  • Women at Iowa. In the Herstory Committee series of the University of Iowa Council on the Status of Women records. Oral history recordings, 2008-2010. Approx. 8 linear inches. Contains interviews with prominent women affiliated with the University of Iowa, such as Susan Buckley and Christine Grant, as well as politicians like Joan Lipsky. The full interviews can be accessed via the Iowa Digital Library.

From the Maria Mercedes "Mercy" Aguilera papers

woman sitting on a motorcycle with skull-and-crossbones design on the windscreen; a toddler sits on the motorcycle behind her

Mercedes "Mercy" Aguilera in Chicago, 1959.

From the Shirley Briggs papers

a woman wearing a coat & slacks with a scarf tied around her head, sitting on a rock ledge gazing out with binoculars lifted halfway to her face

Rachel Carson birding on Hawk Mountain, undated.

From the Jane Burleson papers

group of people with various skin tones pose and smile, wearing 1960s-style clothing; one wears a jacket that reads Local P-31 Fort Dodge, Iowa 

Jane Burleson poses with other leaders of Local 31, the United Packinghouse Workers of North America, ca. 1960s.

From the Tess Catalano papers

illustration of 2 people facing away, arms around each other; one has hand in other's back pocket which also has a copy of Better Homes & Dykes in it

Cover of Better Homes & Dykes magazine, fall 1976.

From the Amako "A. Mori" Costantino papers

young Asian woman with 1940s-style rolled hairdo, wearing a white dress, smiles; a lens flare creates a flash of white that obscures her neck

Amako "A. Mori" Costantino, ca. 1940s.

From the Minnette Doderer papers

black-and-white photo of a white woman with fair hair in an all-white tennis outfit & sneakers reaching out for a shot, her partner visible behind her

Minnette Doderer during an exhibition tennis match featuring Bille Jean King, organized as an ERA fundraiser, 1976.

From the Joan Vander Naald Egenes papers

three women sit at a table in front of a trophy case, laughing together; over their heads a handmade sign reads Republican Women's Club Membership

Registration table at a meeting of Republican Women's Clubs, ca. 1990s.

From the Betty Jean Furgerson papers

black-and-white photo of a woman with medium skin tone in a button-down dress with short sleeves, standing on a lawn in front of foliage and smiling 

Betty Jean Furgerson, ca. 1950s.

From the Christine Grant papers

older woman accepts bouquet & plaque with field hockey stick on it from a group of younger women; all are white; in background, sign reads Grant Field 

Christine Grant at a ceremony celebrating the renaming of the University of Iowa field hockey pitch in her honor, 1991.



From the Virginia Harper papers

program cover with illustration of a black and a white hand both grasping a rope and partial text: To Fulfill These Rights, Oct. 7, 8, 9, 1966... 

Program for the NAACP Iowa state conference in Fort Madison, 1966.

From the Martha Havlic papers

a woman with pale skin wearing glasses and thick socks with no shoes, riding a recumbent bicycle on a gravel road

Martha Havlic riding her bicycle in California, ca. 1980s.

From the Carol Hodne papers

woman with dark skin wearing glasses and a patterned coat doing a hand stack with 3 men, 2 in trucker hats. Banner on wall: Save Our Farms

Eva Barnes and others at a National Farm Crisis Day event in Wisconsin, ca. 1980s.

From the Jill Jack papers

handwritten flyer with some pink and red letters, partial text: Meeting for Lesbians of Color, 6:30 pm, WRAC upstairs, All lesbians of color welcome

Affinity group flyer, undated.

From the Josephine Pletscher papers (Corita Kent material)

newsprint clipping with 2 photos of parade: paper flowers, pop art banners, singing. Partial text: Students, Nuns Throw Party--and It's Wild

Article about Mary's Day "happening" at Immaculate Heart College, organized by Corita Kent, 1964.

From the Joan Lipsky papers

a woman with pale skin and fair hair, pulled back, wearing a plaid sleeveless blouse, shorts, and loafers, holding a string of fish on a dock

Joan Lipsky, ca. 1950s.

From the Anna Cochran Lomas papers

charm bracelet with one charm for each letter of NIXON plus one elephant & one shaped like Iowa, on a card reading The Nation Needs Nixon

Pro-Nixon charm bracelet with Iowa charm, 1960.

From the Dale McCormick papers

Cover of Dale McCormick's book Against the Grain: a Carpentry Manual for Women

Dale McCormick's carpentry manual for women, 1977.

From the Margaret McDonald papers

cargo van parked on a main street; The Republican Van lettering on door; American flag flies from parking meter; man signs petition as woman assists

Margaret McDonald, co-chair of the Iowa state Republican party, canvassing in Iowa Falls, 1974.

From the Sr. Irene Muñoz papers

newsprint; header bar contains illustration of eyes with broken chain & motto: En Honor de Los de Abajo; headline reads Chicana Returns from China

Interview with Sister Irene Muñoz about her recent trip to China, June 1973.

From the Martha Nash papers

a woman with dark skin & an Afro sits on a couch behind a man with dark skin & glasses sitting on the floor; she seems to be re-twisting his hair

Family of Martha Nash, Christmas 1970.

From the Denise O'Brien papers

white woman in blue kerchief and sweatshirt holding several apples in front of a tree with corn field in the background

Denise O'Brien on her farm, undated.



From the Patricia Pardun papers

a man and a woman, both with pale skin and dark hair, talk in a crowded room filled with chairs and decorated with bunting and Vote Republican signs

Patricia Pardun at a Republican National Convention, ca. 1970s.

From the Jo Rabenold papers

red poster with black text: Second Annual Dead Flower Band Valentine's Dance on Friday 13th 10 S. Gilbert 10 pm Donation for Repair of Band's Drum Set

Poster for an Iowa City women's dance, ca. 1980s.

From the Elizabeth Riesz papers

Cover of Elizabeth Riesz's book First Years of a Down's Syndrome Child

Elizabeth Riesz's book about her experience parenting her daughter, Sarah.

From the Shirley Sandage papers

Alberto Paz, Virginia Guzman, and Dominga, Mario, and Junior Castillo listening to recordings of themselves telling stories at an MAP educational program in Mason City, 1966.

From the Aaron Silander papers

zine cover, partial text: Fat Politics...assembled to help fat women get in touch with their oppression, rid themselves of guilt, and...fight back

Cover of Fat Politics zine, undated.

From the Mary Louise Smith papers

a woman in a checked turtleneck dress with a sweater vest over top sits in the Oval Office with Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and two other men

Mary Louise Smith in the Oval Office with Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and others, ca. 1975.

From the Mary Terronez papers

polaroid photo of one middle-aged Mexican-American woman in a red graduation gown flanked by two men of similar age & appearance; all are smiling

Mary Terronez with her brothers Joe & Frank Ramirez at the Palmer Junior College graduation ceremony in Davenport, 1980.

From the Maude White papers

two older women & one teen girl sit together in front of a chalkboard; the girl & one woman are Black, the other woman is white; all are smiling

Maude White (left), community relations manager Gail Stilwili, and a student at the Des Moines Tutoring Center, ca. 1984.

From the Nancylee Ziese papers

clipping from Sioux City Magazine with photo of a white woman with short hair & partial text: NancyLee is making things move for Project Peach...

Sioux City Journal article about Project Peach, 1974.

From the Black Des Moines: Voices Seldom Heard series

screencap from a video interview with Catherine Williams; caption: Deputy Commissioner, Retired, Department of Social Services

Catherine Williams interview featured in the television special "Black Des Moines: Voices Seldom Heard," 1985.

From the University of Iowa Council on the Status of Women records

video screencap showing woman with grey hair & pale skin wearing tan suit in front of black backdrop with caption: The Women's Center was under siege

Susan Buckley in her Women at Iowa oral history interview, 2009.