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Election Day! Politics in the Archives

ike day napkin upright

As the site of the Iowa caucuses as well as the home state of countless policy makers and political activists, Iowa is rich with electoral history. As we cast our votes today, we reflect on the decades of campaigning that has brought some of the 20th century’s biggest political names to Iowa, as well as the effect of Iowans in shaping national political life. Above is a napkin from “National Ike Day,” a 1956 event celebrating the 66th birthday of President Dwight Eisenhower. In a letter to event organizer Anna Cochrane Lomas the next day, Eisenhower commented, “I experienced the warm feeling that I was among good and true friends.”

Below are a few more letters and photos that tell stories of the connections between politics and Iowa.

 

roosevelt eleanor to wilma belden-collins

The work of Iowa newspaper columnist and editor Wilma Belden-Collins caught the eye of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who wrote to her about the United Nations General Assembly. Following her husband’s death, Roosevelt became the first chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and remained the U.S. representative to that Commission even after stepping down as chair in 1951, the year of the above letter.

 

bush xmas

Iowa Women’s Archives co-founder Mary Louise Smith was the first woman to chair the Republican Party. Above is a card from the Bush family, written two years before George Herbert Walker Bush’s first term as Vice-President to Ronald Reagan. During his own presidential campaign ten years later, Bush sent a letter to Smith, thanking her for her support: “There is no way I can properly express my gratitude – Barbara’s, too. You worked hard, you stood at my side when the going got tough, and you were with me, your hand on my shoulder, when things looked very gloomy indeed.”

 

clinton gore in cr 1992

hrc note

The papers of state representative Kathleen Halloran Chapman capture a smiling moment with Bill Clinton during his campaign stop in Cedar Rapids in 1992. A handwritten note to professor Suzanne Bunkers the following year comes from first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and reads: “Thank you for sharing your ideas and suggestions. Bill and I welcome your thoughts. They will be carefully considered as Bill begins to implement his agenda for change in America. Best wishes, Hillary”

 

Want more? Visit the Iowa Women’s Archives!  We’re open weekly Tuesday-Friday, 10:00am to noon and 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

For materials on Iowa women’s fight to secure the right to vote, see our digital collection on Women’s Suffrage in Iowa.

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Celebrating LGBT History Month

pink

This post was written by Christina Jensen, Student Assistant in the Iowa Women’s Archives and graduate student in the UI School of Library and Information Science.

October is LGBT history month!  To celebrate, we’re taking a look at some of the eye-catching cover art of Better Homes and Dykes, from the Jo Rabenold papers.

 

white

movie

Royal

Better Homes and Dykes was a newsletter published in Iowa City by the Lesbian Alliance between 1972 and 1982. Issues featured editorials, satirical essays, and community information. In the inaugural issue, a welcome message proclaimed:

Who are we? We are those of you that have been working women, old maids, housewives, unmarried aunts, women’s libbers, students, career women, et al. No longer content with being in the Shadows of the Feminist Movement, much less shadows to each other […] Better Homes and Dykes is for all lesbians here in Iowa City and elsewhere.

LGBT periodicals like Better Homes and Dykes were often created by independent publishing collectives, targeted a narrow regional distribution, and often existed for short periods of time. Better Homes and Dykes is one of the many examples of independent LGBT press preserved in the Iowa Women’s Archives. These documents were critical tools in early LGBT community building and remain important artifacts of LGBT history, capturing the birth and growth of the gay rights movement.

Want more? Visit the Iowa Women’s Archives!  We’re open weekly Tuesday-Friday, 10:00am to noon and 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

A list of collections related to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Iowans can be found here.

 

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Ivory Winston, Iowa’s Own First Lady of Song

Ivory Winston Green Brochure-1

This post was written by Christina Jensen, Student Assistant in the Iowa Women’s Archives and graduate student in the UI School of Library and Information Science.

Known as ‘Iowa’s own first lady of song’, Ivory Winston was born in 1911 in Ottumwa, Iowa. The daughter of a Baptist pastor, she grew up in a strict religious household and remembered church as the place that awoke her interest in music and fostered her developing talent. As a teenager, she dreamed of becoming a concert pianist, though she confessed to The Ottumwa Courier that she had little interest in vocal work.

 

Ivory Winston Newspaper-1

Winston made her professional debut in 1946 to great acclaim, having waited until her mid-thirties to begin her musical career, a decade into her marriage and well after the birth of her two children, Berta Lou and Byron. A 1947 article in The Ottumwa Courier addressed this balance of family and career, describing Winston as a ‘busy singer’ and ‘a busy housewife and mother’, and asking, “Can marriage and a career mix?” Winston raised musical children who often joined her on stage during performances close to home.

 

Ivory Winston Truman-1

In 1950 she performed for President Truman on his birthday during a stop in Iowa and led the crowd of 20,000 in a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. Despite her professional success, the Winston family faced racial prejudice in Ottumwa, including a neighbor’s unsuccessful petition to bar the Winston family from moving into a new neighborhood. Winston’s son Byron later recalled the petition going unsigned, and the family moving into the neighborhood without incident.

 

Ivory Winston State poster-1

Winston’s voice was widely praised throughout her life, yet no known recordings of her singing survived.  The Des Moines Sunday Register put out a call in 2006 to its readers to keep an eye out for these missing performance recordings. If you have a recording of Ivory Winston, please notify the Iowa Women’s Archives!

Want more? Visit the Iowa Women’s Archives!  We’re open weekly Tuesday-Friday, 10:00am to noon and 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

A list of collections related to African American women in Iowa can be found here

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Louise Liers, World War I nurse

This post, by Christina Jensen, appeared on the Iowa Women’s Archives Tumblr this summer, and has since been featured on NBC news.

On June 28th, 1914, Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip. One month later, war broke out across Europe between two alliance systems. Britain, France, Russia, and Italy comprised the Allied powers. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire constituted the Central powers. As war raged abroad, the U.S. wrestled with the politics of neutrality and intervention. In April of 1917, President Wilson was granted a declaration of war by Congress. The United States thus officially entered the conflict alongside Allied forces. 

To mark the occasion of the World War I centennial, we’re remembering Iowa women whose lives were shaped by the war.

One such woman was Clayton-native Louise Marie Liers (1887-1983), an obstetrics nurse who enrolled in the Red Cross and served in France as an Army nurse.

Before her deployment, however, Liers was required by the American Red Cross to submit three letters “vouching for her loyalty as an American citizen.” All nurses, regardless of nationality, were similarly required to provide three non-familial references testifying to this effect. While questions of loyalty and subversion are exacerbated in any war, America’s domestic front was rife with tension driven by geography, class, and ethnicity that raised fears and stoked national debate in the years leading up to America’s engagement in the Great War.

Louise Liers's war identification. Louise Liers Papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Louise Liers’s war identification. Louise Liers Papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Arriving in 1918, Liers was stationed in the French town of Nevers where she treated wounded soldiers.  During this time Liers wrote numerous letters home to her parents and brother describing her duties and conditions of life during the war.

In a letter to her brother, featured below, Liers described her journey to France from New York City, with stops in Liverpool and Southampton.

Louise Liers’s letter to her brother, describing her journey from Iowa to Base Hospital No. 14 in France. Louise Liers papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Louise Liers’s letter to her brother, describing her journey from Iowa to Base Hospital No. 14 in France. Louise Liers papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

When Liers arrived in 1918, Nevers was only a few hours away from the Allied offensive line of the Western Front.  She was assigned to a camp that served patients with serious injuries and those who required long-term care.  Liers noted in a 1970 interview that, by the end of the war, as fewer patients with battle wounds arrived, her camp began to see patients with the “Asian flu,” also known as the 1918 influenza outbreak that infected 500 million people across the world by the end of the war.

In letters home, and in interviews given later, Liers described pleasant memories from her time in service, including pooling sugar rations with fellow nurses to make fudge for patients.  Nurses could apply for passes to leave camp and Liers was thus able to visit both Paris and Cannes.  In an interview Liers recalled that, serendipitously, she had requested in advance a leave-pass to travel into town for the 11th of November, 1918. To her surprise, that date turned out to be Armistice Day, and she was able to celebrate the end of the war with the citizens of Nevers.

“…devised such tortures and called it warfare…”

Along with her cheerier memories, however, Liers’s papers also describe the difficulties of caregiving during war.  She described Nevers as a town “stripped of younger people” due to the great number of deaths accrued in the four years of war.  In later interviews Liers offered many accounts of the grim surroundings medical staff worked under, from cramped and poorly equipped conditions, to unhygienic supplies, such as bandages washed by locals in nearby rivers, which she remembered as “utterly ridiculous from a sanitary standpoint…they were these awful dressings. They weren’t even sterilized, there wasn’t time.”  Due to the harsh conditions and limited resources, nurses and doctors gained practical knowledge in the field. Liers recalled frustrating battles to treat maggot-infected wounds before the nurses realized that the maggots, in fact, were sometimes the best option to keep wounds clean from infection in a field hospital.

On a grimmer note, Liers wrote to her parents the following:

“As I have told you before, the boys are wonderful- very helpful. When I see their horrible wounds or worse still their mustard gas burns or the gassed patients who will never again be able to do a whole days work- I lose every spark of sympathy for the beast who devised such tortures and called it warfare- last we were in Moulins when a train of children from the devastated districts came down-burned and gassed- and that was the most pitiful sight of all.”

By the time the “final drive” was in motion, Base Hospital No. 14 was filled with patients to nearly double capacity, and doctors and nurses had to work by candlelight or single light bulb. Liers’ wartime service and reflections suggest a range of emotions and experiences had by women thrust into a brutal war, remembered for its different methods of warfare, inventive machinery, and attacks on civilian populations.

Army nurses on parade, c. 1918. Louise Liers papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Army nurses on parade, c. 1918. Louise Liers papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Liers worked in France until 1920, and her correspondence with friends and family marks the change in routine brought on by the end of the war.  With more freedom to travel, Liers and friends toured throughout France, and like countless visitors before and after, Liers describes how enchanted she became with the country, from the excitement of Paris to the rural beauty of Provence.

Following the war, Liers returned to private practice in Chicago, and later Elkader, where she was regarded as a local institution unto herself, attending over 7,000 births by 1949.  She was beloved by her local community, which gifted her a new car in 1950 as a sign of gratitude upon her retirement.

 

Want more? Visit the Iowa Women’s Archives! We’re open weekly Tuesday-Friday, 10:00am to noon and 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

A list of collections related to Iowa women and war can be found here.

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Remembering Emma’s early days

This post was written by Jessica Lawson, Graduate Research Assistant in the Iowa Women’s Archives.

(Clockwise from left) Sondra Smith, Barb Yates, Dale McCormick, Gayle Sand, and Francie Hornstein.

(Clockwise from left) Sondra Smith, Barb Yates, Dale McCormick, Gayle Sand, and Francie Hornstein.

  The Iowa Women’s Archives had an exciting visit at the end of July! Five women who were active in the feminist community in Iowa City in the 1970s and were early supporters of the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women visited the archives.  Dale McCormick, Sondra Smith, Gayle Sand, Barb Yates, and Francie Hornstein reunited to look through this feminist health clinic’s records and share memories of its early days. The Emma Goldman Clinic (fondly known as “Emma”) is a not-for-profit healthcare and family planning provider whose records are housed at the Archives.  Barb Yates was a “founding mother” of Emma, along with Ginny Blair, Robin Christensen, Melissa Farley, Diane Greene, Darca Nicholson, Deb Nye, Patty Pressley, Carmen Salas, and Roxie Tullis.

Barb Yates, Francie Hornstein, and Dale McCormick looking at Ain't I a Woman, published by the Women's Liberation Front in Iowa City in the early 1970s.

Barb Yates, Francie Hornstein, and Dale McCormick looking at Ain’t I a Woman, published by the Women’s Liberation Front in Iowa City in the early 1970s.

The collections we brought out for our visitors and the stories they shared reflect the rich interconnections among women’s organizations and social justice movements in Iowa City in the 1970s. In addition to the material in the Emma Goldman Clinic Records themselves, the history of the clinic is woven through the personal papers of two of the visitors (Dale McCormick and Sondra Smith), as well as other local activists like Jill Jack and Linda Yanney and organizations such as the Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC). The women laughed as they told stories about staging a feminist revision of Taming of the Shrew, proudly compared their work on Ain’t I a Woman (the newsletter of the Iowa City Women’s Liberation Front) to the work of women’s groups in New York City in the 1970s, and paused to celebrate the memory of Iowa Women’s Archives co-founder Louise Noun. They even found time to help us identify some of the faces in the old photographs.

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Nineteenth Century Davenport as a Hotbed of Controversial Alternative Medicine Schools

The University of Iowa History of Medicine Society & the Iowa Women’s Archives invite you to:

Nineteenth Century Davenport as a Hotbed of Controversial
Alternative Medicine Schools

Featuring Greta Nettleton, University of Iowa author and historian
Thursday June 19, 2014, 5:30-6:30 PM
MERF Room 2117 (Medical Education and Research Facility across from Hardin Library)

Medical HOMS  Nettleton 6-19

Mrs. Dr. Rebecca J. Keck was a controversial, self-taught eclectic physician and the owner of Mrs. Dr. Keck’s Infirmary for All Chronic Diseases in Davenport, Iowa. Although forgotten today, she served up to 15,000 patients in her itinerant circuit. She successfully defended herself in court five times in Illinois for practicing medicine without a license from 1879 to 1900. How does her career illuminate the birth of other alternative medical theories such as Chiropractic?

View the event on Facebook

If you are a person with a disability requiring an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Donna Hirst, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences (donna-hirst@uiowa.edu), 335-9154. The UI Histort of Medicine Society website is located at http://hosted.lib.uiowa.edu/histmed.

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Archives Alive!: Teaching with WWII Correspondence

This post was originally written by Jen Wolfe, Digital Scholarship Librarian, for the UI Libraries Digital Research & Publishing Blog. It is re-posted here with minor modifications.

University of Iowa faculty, students, and staff discussed a curriculum project that combines historic documents with digital tools and methods as part of the Irving B. Weber Days local history celebration. The one-hour presentation “Archives Alive!: Teaching with WWII Correspondence” took place on Wednesday, May 7 at the Iowa City Public Library.

Iowa Women’s Archives Curator Kären Mason provided background on the IWA and its mission to chronicle the history of Iowa women, their families, and their communities by collecting personal papers, organizational records, and oral histories. IWA artifacts on display at the event included a World War II correspondence scrapbook, donated by author and radio personality Evelyn Birkby, upon which the Archives Alive! project was based.

Evelyn Birkby interviewing guests on KMA radio program, Shenandoah, Iowa, March 21, 1951

Evelyn Birkby interviewing guests on KMA radio program, Shenandoah, Iowa, March 21, 1951

Matt Gilchrist and Tom Keegan, Rhetoric faculty and co-directors of the Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning (IDEAL) initiative, spoke about using digital humanities methods to engage undergraduates through hands-on learning and technologically innovative assignments. For Archives Alive!, they developed a four-week curriculum module that required their Rhetoric students to participate in DIY History, the UI Libraries’ transcription crowdsourcing project. After transcribing, researching, and analyzing digitized correspondence from the Birkby scrapbook, students conveyed their findings in a variety of ways; this includes three-minute video screencasts uploaded to YouTube that form a collection of open-access works of original digital scholarship based on primary sources.

Panel of speakers at the "Archives Alive!" event on May 7, 2014

Archives Alive! panelists Zach Stark, Matt Gilchrist, Tom Keegan, Karen Mason, Jessica Graff, and James Burke, Iowa City Public Library, 2014. Photo by Matt Butler.

The event also featured presentations by Rhetoric students James Burke, Jessica Graff, and Zach Stark. For those who couldn’t make it in person, “Archives Alive!: Teaching with WWII Correspondence” will be archived at the Iowa City Public Library web site.

The Archives Alive! spring 2014 student works are available on the IDEAL website, and a letter from Evelyn Birkby to the students is included in the IWA Tumblr post about the project.

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An Evening of Irish Music & Mystery: Featuring Author Erin Hart & Musician Paddy O’Brien

Join us for an Evening of Irish Music and Mystery, featuring author Erin Hart and musician Paddy O’Brien. The evening will begin with traditional Irish music on the square between the Main Library and the Adler Journalism Building, followed by the author presentation and reception, and tours of the Conservation Lab and the Iowa Women’s Archives.

Hart will share how the discovery of the ninth century Fadden More Psalter inspired her latest novel. Hart worked with preservationists, conservationists, and scholars to include the book’s actual history in her story.

This event is sponsored by the University of Iowa Libraries, the UI Libraries Conservation Lab, and the Iowa Women’s Archives.

irishmusic

An Evening of Irish Music & Mystery
Featuring Author Erin Hart & Musician Paddy O’Brien
Thursday, May 1, 2014, 7:00 PM
University of Iowa Main Library
Shambaugh Auditorium

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Women in Politics 2014: Historic & Current Perspectives

women in politics

Women in Politics 2014: Historic & Current Perspectives
Friday, April 18th, 2014, 8:15 AM to 5:00 PM
Old Capitol Museum Senate Chambers

The Louise Noun – Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women’s Archives was founded by two women who understood the critical importance of women participating in politics at all levels.

Join us for a day-long symposium that will examine why women do or do not run for political office, how they govern once elected, and documentation of the history of women in politics. The symposium will wrap up with a policy discussion and action steps.

The symposium is free and open to the public, but please register here, as space is limited.

The Women in Politics symposium is presented by the Public Policy Center in partnership with the Iowa Women’s Archives.

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Tamales and Juneteenth Cakes: Race, Recipes and Citizenship

Friday, March 28th, 2014 at 4:00p.m.
Iowa Women’s Archives
3rd Floor, Main Library
University of Iowa

Speakers:
Katherine Massoth, Ph.D. candidate
Susan Stanfield, Ph.D.

Tamales and Juneteenth Cakes