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

Women & the Law: Table of Contents

This page contains a guide to the Iowa Women's Archives' collections related to women in the legal professions, women organizing around issues related to incarceration, and lawsuits related to women's rights. Please use the links below to navigate between sections.

Attorneys & Judges

Incarceration & Prison Organizing



From the PCWA papers

five women with pale skin and fair or brown hair wearing patterned suits and hats smile and pose around a table with a tea set, holding teacups

PCWA members Cece Ibson, Lori Chesser, Lynette Rasmussen, Martha Fagg, and Rayann Ryan at an Iowa ERA fundraising tea, 1992.

From the Roxanne Conlin papers

woman with pale skin & fair hair sits at a desk with a full ashtray & holds a phone to her ear, smiling. her dress & curtains have pop art patterns

Roxanne Conlin publicity photo, ca. 1969.

From the Linda Kinney Neuman records

two white women with short hair in business suits; one has one hand in her pocket & the other held out, upturned, in front of her, as she speaks

Linda Kinney Neuman with Sandra Day O'Connor at a National Association of Women Judges meeting in Minneapolis, ca. 1984.




From the Sherry Hutchinson papers

yellow brochure with outline of the US filled with faces & overlaid by bars; partial text: ...the rising realization that prisons do not deter crime..

Brochure for the Alternatives to Imprisonment conference in Des Moines, 1979.

From the Marta Werner papers

cover cartoon, partial text: Hello! This is Tower #10...I just caught a a red suit & white beard...scaling the wall...bag of contraband..

Cover of the Christmas edition of the Iowa State Penitentiary News & Walled Report, 1976.



From the Common Lives, Lesbian Lives records

partial text: ...Common Lives/Lesbian Lives censored by the University...This is suppression of lesbian culture!!! This is an outrage!!!

Flyer related to a lawsuit filed by the publication Common Lives/Lesbian Lives against the University of Iowa, ca. 1986.

From the Jean Lloyd-Jones papers

cartoon of 2 women sitting at a table poring over a long scroll; caption reads Add it once more, those 261 people must be here somewhere!

Jean Lloyd-Jones illustration for her narrative account of the League of Women Voters' participation in a lawsuit over legislative districting plans, 1972.

From the Jane Christoffer Rubel papers

newsprint photo, 2 girls playing basketball; headline: Mom Returns to Court; partial text: ...a federal district court judge Friday issued... 

Article about Jane Rubel's successful suit against the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, 1971.

Women & the Law: Attorneys & Judges

  • ​​​​​​Iowa Women’s Judges Project. Records, 1997-2000. 2 linear inches. Oral history transcripts and associated research paper. Interviewees include six Iowa judges active in the late 1970s and early 1980s: Margaret Stevenson Briles, Linda Neuman, Donna Paulsen, Rosemary Sackett, Annette Scieszinski, and Gayle Nelson Vogel. 
  • Polk County Women Attorneys (PCWA). Records, 1986-1995. 9 linear inches. Association organized in 1986 to promote women’s success in the legal professions and advocate for laws advancing women’s rights. Collection includes records of the Equality in the Courts Task Force, appointed by the Iowa Supreme Court to examine bias in the state legal system, and a video produced by PCWA to raise awareness about shaken baby syndrome. 

  • Becker, Janice Malfeld (1940-). Papers, 1979-2016. 1.7 linear feet. This collection consists entirely of Becker’s diaries, which begin the year she received her J.D. from the University of Iowa, and contain many reflections on her decades of legal practice in Iowa City and Coralville. 

  • Campbell, Bonnie (1948-). Papers, 1992-1999. 5 linear inches. 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 issues. 

  • Chapman, Katherine Halloran (1937-). Papers, 1977-1999. 8.75 linear feet. Democratic state representative serving Linn County in the 1980s and 1990s and the first woman in private practice in Cedar Rapids; collection includes records of Chapman’s law practice, including some materials from the Iowa State Bar Association’s Family and Juvenile Law Section. 

  • Conlin, Roxanne Barton (1944-). Papers, 1969-1998. 45 linear feet. Iowa Assistant Attorney General overseeing the civil rights section, 1969-1976, and United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, 1977-1981. Collection documents her work in these roles as well as with the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, of which she was the first woman president, 1992-1993. Notable materials include the Iowa Civil Rights Commission correspondence in the Political series, which contains reports of alleged rights violations sent to Conlin; substantial material on the ERA; and campaign records. 

  • Fleming, Merle (1926-2006). Papers, 1947-2005. 28 linear feet. Affirmative action consultant and Iowa Assistant Attorney General (1980-1989). Collection documents those activities as well as Fleming’s work with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the League of Women Voters (particularly on the issue of reapportionment). 

  • Neuman, Linda Kinney (1948-). Papers, 1975-2018. 10.5 linear feet. Collection documents Neuman’s 20 years of service in the Iowa judiciary and her appointment as the first woman to sit on the Iowa Supreme Court. 

  • Raymond, Mildred Elizabeth Daum (1909-2014). The Daum and Doderer Family Papers contains approx. 1.5 linear feet of material on Raymond’s law studies at the University of Iowa and early years of practice. She specialized in probate and mental health law in Kansas City for over forty years; in the 1960s, while working for Legal Aid, she spearheaded a legal challenge to the racially discriminatory practice of redlining, though that period of her career is not documented in this collection. 

  • Sackett, Rosemary (1940-). Papers, 1960-1996. 3.5 linear inches. Appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 1983, and elected chief judge in 1996, the first woman to occupy the position. Small collection consists primarily of clippings on Sackett’s career and includes a speech on the history of women attorneys in Iowa. 

Women & the Law: Incarceration & Prison Organizing


  • Women On the Inside. Records, 2009-2010. 5 linear inches. Five autobiographical books created by people incarcerated at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville as part of a creative writing project. 

  • Beisswenger, Joyce (1930-2002). Papers, 1906-2005. 1.8 linear feet. The Donna Sexton Case series contains legal records, correspondence, and other writings related to Beisswenger’s attempt to secure release for Sexton, who was imprisoned for her participation in a 1993 murder in Tennessee. 

  • Clark, Betty Jean (1920-2005). Papers, 1935-1994. 1.8 linear feet. Republican member of the Iowa House of Representatives, 1977-1991, serving Cerro Gordo, Floyd, and Mitchell counties. Among other documentation of Clark’s legislative service, the collection includes extensive correspondence with imprisoned Iowan Don White. 

  • Doderer, Minnette (1923-2005). Papers, 1944-2005. 29.25 linear feet. Democratic lawmaker; the General series of Accession 4 contains some legal documents regarding an unsuccessful equal protection lawsuit filed on behalf of women prisoners in Iowa, and the topical files throughout the collection feature material on various issues related to incarceration in Iowa. 

  • Harper, Patricia M. (1932-). Papers, 1986-2003. 10 linear inches. Democratic member of the Iowa House of Representatives, 1987-1997, and of the Iowa Senate, 1997-2003, serving Black Hawk county. Collection includes correspondence concerning Duane Brant, an imprisoned Iowan from Harper's district seeking a sentencing reduction. 

  • Hennessey, Sister Gwen (1932-2008). Papers, 2000-2005. 2 linear inches. Peace activist imprisoned for protesting at the School of the Americas; this small collection includes Hennessey’s statement to the judge and an item of her writing from prison. 

  • Hutchison, Charlotte (Sherry) (1919-2018). Papers, 1973-2004. 7.5 linear inches. This collection contains a small amount of material on the “Alternatives to Imprisonment” conference held in Des Moines in 1979, as well as activists’ attempts to establish a citizen review board to address excessive force complaints against Des Moines police in the 1990s. 

  • Kern, Bonnie (1945-). Papers, 1945-2014. 2.5 linear feet. The biographical material in this collection documents Kern’s incarceration in Iowa from 1963-1969, her restoration of citizenship pardon, and her training to become a rehabilitation counselor for other formerly incarcerated women. 

  • Werner, Marta (1906-1989). Papers, 1892-1989. 5 linear feet. Longtime advocate for and correspondent with people incarcerated at the Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP) in Fort Madison in the 1970s and 1980s. Collection includes correspondence with people in the prison, clippings documenting Werner’s work at the institution, photographs, and records of incarcerated people’s organizations, such as the ISP branch of the NAACP. 

Women & the Law: Litigation

  • Brine, Pelton & Thompson v. the University of Iowa. Records, 1985-1996. 10.25 linear feet. Collection extensively documents a lawsuit filed by faculty of the Dental Hygiene Program alleging sex discrimination on the part of the University; includes trial transcripts, depositions, exhibits, and legal briefs, as well as a clippings file and letters of support for the plaintiffs. 

  • Common Lives, Lesbian Lives. Records, 1980-2001. 1.7 linear feet. Collection contains brief documentation about this lesbian literary journal’s successful 1982 suit against the University of Iowa after it refused to print an issue containing erotic photographs. 

  • Emma Goldman Clinic. Records, 1971-2013. 24 linear feet. This collection contains a small amount of material documenting the EGC’s 1991 lawsuit against anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. 

  • Jean M. Jew Justice Committee. Records, 1982-1999. 5 linear inches. Committee formed to support Jew’s sex discrimination lawsuit against the University of Iowa and to pressure the University into dropping their appeal of the judgement in her favor. Much of the collection consists of clippings about the case; the remainder includes legal briefs and rulings, correspondence, and notes on earlier tenure denials. 

  • Buckley, Susan. Papers, 1975-2015. 5.8 linear feet. University of Iowa administrator whose collection includes a clippings file, rulings, and Buckley’s deposition in Jean M. Jew’s sexual harassment suit against the University of Iowa and Jew’s slander suit against her colleague Robert Tomanek. 

  • Coffin, Barbara (1941-). Papers, 1944-2000. 1 linear foot. The bulk of this collection consists of exhibits, transcripts, and clippings related to Coffin’s partially successful lawsuit against the city of Waterloo, which refused to count her years of service as a “city hostess” who wrote tickets and assisted with handling of women in custody toward her pension clock after she subsequently became a police officer. 

  • Doderer, Minnette (1923-2005). Papers, 1944-2005. 29.25 linear feet. Democratic Iowa state legislator, 1964-2001; the General series of Accession 4 contains some legal documents regarding an unsuccessful equal protection lawsuit filed on behalf of women prisoners in Iowa. 

  • Eggers, Lolly (1929-2001). Papers, 1963-1994. 1.5 linear feet. Director of the Iowa City Public Library, 1974-1994; collection documents a sex discrimination suit filed by Eggers and other women employed by the city, including research on employment statistics and a copy of the complaint. 

  • Grant, Christine (1936-2021). Papers, 1952-2022. 30 linear feet. Collection includes affidavits and transcripts of Grant’s testimony as an expert witness in Title IX cases about collegiate athletics, as well as extensive documentation of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women’s 1981 antitrust suit against the NCAA. 

  • Henry, Phylliss (1940-). Papers, 1971-2004. 2 linear feet. Henry was the first woman officer assigned to patrol duty for the Des Moines Police Department; collection includes records of Henry’s suit against the DMPD for sex discrimination, as well as material on three other similar cases filed against the DMPD and one against the Cedar Rapids Police Department. The most extensive set of case materials consists of depositions, exhibits, and briefs related to Deborah Lynch’s suit against the DMPD, which Henry worked on in her capacity as a consultant for Starr and Associates after leaving law enforcement. 

  • Lloyd-Jones, Jean (1929-). Papers, 1964-2014. 12.5 linear feet. Longtime Democratic member of the Iowa General Assembly, serving Johnson county, and president of the League of Women Voters from 1971-1976; the League series in this collection documents the 1972 lawsuit brought by the League and several other plaintiffs to successfully challenge the legislature’s plan for reapportionment of electoral districts. See other League of Women Voters collections, inventoried in the Political Organizations section of this guide, for more reapportionment materials. 

  • Rubel, Jane Christoffer (1953-). Papers, 1969-1993. 5 linear inches. Collection contains a summary document and correspondence describing Rubel’s suit against the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union, which refused to let her continue to play basketball after Rubel married and had a child; the IGHSAU eventually rescinded the rule and Rubel was allowed to. 

  • Rundquist, Maria (1951-). Papers, 1959-2016. 7.5 linear inches. Collection contains some materials related to Rundquist’s 1994 civil rights complaint against her employer, Midwest Gas.