Events Category


John Fry: What I Learned from Publishing an Edited Manuscript, Fri, Sept 20, 10-11am

Laura and Earle Smith

Laura & Earle Smith were barely out of college in 1913 when they left Moravia, Iowa, to try their hand at homesteading near Chugwater, Wyoming.   Laura recounted their adventures years later in her memoir Almost Pioneers.

Historian John Fry (UI PhD, 2002) came across Almost Pioneers while doing dissertation research in the Iowa Women’s Archives and later edited it for publication.  The trail to getting the book published was almost as bumpy as the Wyoming roads of 1913–but not quite.  John Fry will be in town on September 19-20, 2013, to speak about the book.


Thursday, September 19, 7:00 p.m.

Coralville Public Library


Friday, September 20, 10:00 a.m.

Iowa Women’s Archives

(3rd floor, Main Library, The University of Iowa)

Please join us!

For information, call 335-5068.



Leading the Field: Women and Sport at Iowa, Thu, Mar 28 at 4pm

Celebrate Women’s History Month with the Iowa Women’s Archives

In collaboration with the UI Council on the Status of Women, IWA will welcom Susan Birrell for a talk and Janet Schlapkohl for a dramatic reading on Thursday, March 28 starting at 4pm in the Iowa Women’s Archives (3rd floor south of the Main Library).

University of Iowa is a recognized leader in women in sport and physical education. Four years ago, the University of Iowa Libraries celebrated that legacy by digitizing a collection of the UI Department of Physical Education for Women. Below is more information about this remarkable digital collection.

Almost 1000 historic photographs of University women’s physical education classes – from archery and synchronized swimming to basketball and dance – are now publicly available online. In celebration of Women’s History Month, the University of Iowa Libraries has released the UI Department of Physical Education for Women digital collection: .

The photographs, spanning almost 100 years (1906-2004), are part of a larger manuscript collection that documents the rise of women’s athletics at Iowa from the one-member Department of Physical Culture and Athletics to the dawn of women’s intercollegiate sports. The Department of Physical Education for Women at the University of Iowa was a pioneer in the development of graduate study and professional training as well as athletic opportunities for women.

“These photographs offer a fabulous window into women’s sport—and campus life—over the past century.  They’re very appealing, from the expected team portraits and sports action shots to the more surprising images of laboratory experiments, rifle enthusiasts, and slumber parties,” says Kären Mason, Curator of the Iowa Women’s Archives. “The digital collection provides easy access to these photos, and I hope it will inspire people to explore the equally fascinating records of the Department of PE for Women that are available in the archives.”

Intercollegiate athletics for women at The University of Iowa originated in the Department of Physical Education for Women in the late 1960s and early 1970s and maintained that association until 2000.  This relationship stemmed from the philosophy of the women physical educators and the value they placed on education and women-centered and -controlled sport.

“Those two key, related notions are still at the heart of the current Department of Health and Sport Studies: that sport and physical activity should be part of a liberal arts education and that they can contribute greatly to both individual well-being and the social good,” says Catriona Parratt, Associate Professor in the Department of Health & Sport Studies. “We are delighted that the Iowa Women’s Archives digital photographic collection will make it easier for many more people to appreciate this aspect of the University’s mission.”

This historic image collection is the latest edition to the Iowa Digital Library — — which contains more than 225,000 digital objects, including photographs, maps, sound recordings and documents from libraries and archives at the UI and their partnering institutions as well as faculty research collections.

To explore the vast digital holdings from the Iowa Women’s Archives, a portal that allows users to browse by subject, time period or artifact type is available online at . It will be continually updated with new items drawn from the IWA’s 1100 manuscript collections, which have provided valuable primary source materials for books, articles, theses and class projects on women’s history.

For more information about the collection, contact Kären Mason, Curator of the Iowa Women’s Archives, at 335-5068.


Shirley Briggs and the Iowa Connection to “Silent Spring”

Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring,” a lyrical and compelling book about how DDT and other pesticides were damaging the environment and human health. The book called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world and became an inspiration for the environmental movement. One of Carson’s staunchest advocates and closest friends was Iowan Shirley Briggs, who met Carson when they worked together at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1940s.  To recognize this Iowa connection to “Silent Spring,” the University of Iowa Libraries and Office of Sustainability are presenting a symposium and exhibition opening on November 15, inspired by the extensive collection of Briggs’ diaries, letters, photos and artwork in the Iowa Women’s Archives.

The symposium begins at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, in Phillips Hall Auditorium (100 PH), followed by an opening reception in the UI Sciences Library, where an exhibit of Briggs’ photos, writings, art work and memorabilia will be on display through Jan. 7.

Shirley Briggs

“A Sense of Wonder,” a short film about the last days of Rachel Carson as she struggled with cancer, will be shown from noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 14 at the Iowa City Public Library.

Speaking at the symposium will be Liz Christiansen, director of the UI Office of Sustainability, who will read from “Silent Spring” and tell about Carson’s legacy to the environmental movement. Kären Mason, curator of the Iowa Women’s Archives, will talk about Briggs and her connection to Carson’s work. Brief clips from “A Sense of Wonder” will also be shown.


Biographer of Mary Louise Smith to read on November 10th

As part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Iowa Women’s Archives, Suzanne O’Dea will read from her new biography of Archives co-founder Mary Louise Smith and take questions about her research for  the book.  

Join us for coffee and pastries at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 10th, in the North Exhibition Hall of the University of Iowa Main Library. After the program, enjoy the exhibition Pathways to Iowa: Migration Stories from the Iowa Women’s Archives, or join Curator Karen Mason for a tour of the Iowa Women’s Archives.

Parking is available in the cashiered lot west of the library.   The library opens at 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays.

 Madam Chairman: Mary Louise Smith and Revival of the Republican Party After Watergate, published in October by the University of Missouri Press,   is based on extensive interviews O’Dea recorded with Smith and her staff at the Republican National Committee in the early 1990s, and on archival research in the Mary Louise Smith Papers at the Iowa Women’s Archives and the Gerald Ford Papers at the Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Madam Chairman explores the career of Mary Louise Smith, a woman in a world of politics run by men, to recount Smith’s and the GOP’s changing fortunes but also the challenges Republican women faced as they worked to gain a larger party presence.  Like many women, Smith started out making coffee, stuffing envelopes, and knocking on doors at the precinct level, and honed her political skills in Republican women’s organizations at the state and national level before being elected Republican National Commiteewoman from Iowa in 1964.

Smith became the first woman to serve as chairman of the Republican National Committee when President Ford appointed her to the position in 1974.  During her twenty-eight months as chairman, Smith worked to rebuild the party following the devastation of Watergate, developing innovative fundraising strategies still used today. A supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, reproductive rights, and gay rights, Smith grew increasingly alienated from the Republican Party as its leadership shifted from the moderate views espoused by Ford to the more conservative leadership still seen today, yet she remained loyal to the party.

Suzanne O’Dea is the author of three books, including Legislators and Politicians: Iowa’s Women Lawmakers. She lives in McKinleyville, California. 



Vicki Ruiz to present keynote lecture at The Latino Midwest symposium

Of Poetics and Politics:  The Border Journeys of Luisa Moreno

Opening Keynote Address, The Latino Midwest Symposium
Thursday, October 11, 7:00 p.m.
Shambaugh Auditorium, The University of Iowa

Reception, 8:30 p.m.
North Exhibition Hall, Main Library

~ in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the Iowa Women’s Archives ~

From the symposium website: 

Vicki L. Ruiz is Professor of History and Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine and the former Dean of the School of Humanities. Over the course of three decades, she has published over fifty essays and one dozen books. An award-winning scholar, she is the author of Cannery Women, Cannery Lives and From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth- Century America. Her edited or co-edited anthologies include Unequal Sisters: An Inclusive Reader in U.S. Women’s History. She and Virginia Sánchez Korrol co-edited the three-volume Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, which received a 2007 “Best in Reference” Award from the New York Public Library. She is past president of the Organization of American Historians, the Berkshire Conference of Women’s Historians, and the American Studies Association. Since 2007 she has served on the advisory board for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. An elected fellow of the Society of American Historians, she was recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the first Latina historian so honored.


About Luisa Moreno

An immigrant from Guatemala, Luisa Moreno was one of the most prominent women labor leaders in the United States.  From 1930 to 1947, she mobilized seamstresses in New York’s Spanish Harlem, cigar rollers in Florida, and cannery women in California. The first Latina to hold a national union office, she served as vice-president of the CIO cannery union (UCAPAWA). She was also the driving force behind the 1939 El Congreso de Pueblos de Hablan Española, first national U.S. Latino civil rights conference. Moreover, as a Latina flapper during the 1920s, she published poetry and consorted with the likes of Diego Rivera in Mexico City before journeying to the United States. Relying on oral interviews with Moreno, her daughter, and many friends and associates as well as on Moreno’s own writings and moving beyond a traditional panegyric narrative, this presentation traces how Moreno embodied a quintessential transnational subject given her movement across discordant spaces, physical and intellectual, where she invented and reinvented herself.  This presentation will also explore the politics of memory and biography given the bonds that developed between the historian, Moreno, and her daughter Mytyl Glomboske.


Poster for Vicki Ruiz events.


Vicki Ruiz will also present a lecture earlier in the day on Thursday:

“Big Dreams, Rural Schools:  Mexican Americans and Public Education, 1870-1950”

Thursday October 11, 2012
11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  2520D University Capitol Centre





Pathways to Iowa: Migration Stories from the Iowa Women’s Archives

Join Iowa Women’s Archives Curator Kären Mason, Assistant Curator Janet Weaver, and faculty members Omar Valerio-Jiménez and Claire Fox for a brown-bag discussion of Latina history in Iowa at the opening of the newest exhibit at the UI Main Library.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 12:00- 1:00 p.m.

 University of Iowa Main Library, North Exhibition Hall

“Pathways to Iowa: Migration Stories from the Iowa Women’s Archives” explores a theme common to many of the collections: migration. Since its founding, the Iowa Women’s Archives has gathered documents, photos, and oral histories that illuminate the lives of diverse Iowa women. Through the day-to-day work of the Archives and projects to preserve Latina, African-American, and rural women’s history, the Archives has opened up new avenues of research and laid the foundation for a more complete history of Iowa, the Midwest, and the nation.

Bring your lunch. Cookies and iced tea will be served.

The exhibition is free and open to the public during regular Main Library hours through November 30, 2012.

PLEASE NOTE: The South entrance to the UI Main Library is closed; you will need to use the North entrance.

Pathways to Iowa - Migration Stories from the IWA


Re-examining the Pelvic

On Tuesday, May 1st, the Iowa Women’s Archives will host a lecture by Wendy Kline, professor of history at the University of Cincinnati.  Kline’s talk, “Reexamining the Pelvic: Women’s Health from a Recent Historical Perspective,” concerns the late 20th century controversy regarding pelvic examination instruction in American medical schools.

Wendy Kline

In the 1970s, medical educators expressed concern over how best to prepare medical students for routine gynecological care.  In response, schools experimented with a variety of approaches, including the use of plastic models, anesthetized patients, volunteers, and “simulated” patients (including prostitutes, graduate students, and nurses).  By the late 1970s, outsiders entered the debate, as female medical students, consumer rights advocates, and health feminists criticized some of these tactics as demeaning and destructive to women.  Approached by female students at Harvard Medical School disappointed by their gynecological training, the Women’s Community Health Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts initiated an innovative “pelvic teaching program.”  Laywomen acted as instructors and patient models for Harvard Medical students during a required introductory clinical medicine course.  But after two years, the partnership disintegrated, with feminists feeling like no more than “talking pelvises” and medical educators disturbed by feminist politics, personal crusades, and “inappropriate patient model choices.”

Drawing on the unpublished papers of the Women’s Community Health Center, medical journals, memoirs, and oral histories, Kline argues that this initial attempt to overhaul the traditional power relations between doctor and female patient, although unsuccessful, marked a crucial development in the negotiations between feminist health clinics, medical students, and organized medicine.  Ultimately, this controversy helped to transform routine gynecological care by challenging many of the assumptions about how to understand and examine the female body.


Tuesday, May 1st, 4:00 p.m.

Iowa Women’s Archives

3rd Floor, Main Library

 The University of Iowa



Sisters, There’s a Women’s Center in Iowa City!

Iowa City was a hotbed of women’s liberation in the 1970s, boasting women’s restaurants, coffeehouses, presses, bookstores, childcare centers, publications, and health clinics.  The Women’s Liberation Front in Iowa City left many lasting legacies, among them the Women’s Resource and Action Center, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this academic year.

In 1971 Iowa City women opened a women’s center in a Quonset hut leased from the University, creating a space where women could socialize, learn skills, get health information, and receive assistance with legal issues, among other things. A few months later the Women’s Center moved into a house on East Market Street. The Center was renamed the Women’s Resource and Action Center in 1974 and settled into its current home at 130 North Madison in 1976.

On Friday, March 23rd at 4:00 p.m. the Iowa Women’s Archives will host a panel of women who were active in the early years of WRAC.  The panelists will recall their involvement with childcare, abortion referral, the Iowa City Women’s Press, women’s softball, and other offshoots of the Women’s Center. We invite others who recall WRAC through the years to join in the conversation.  Come for a lively discussion and a piece of birthday cake!

Friday, March 23, 2012
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Iowa Women’s Archives
3rd Floor, Main Library, University of Iowa




Centennial Celebration of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike

Please join the Iowa Women’s Archives for a uniquely Iowan perspective celebrating the centennial of the 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile strike.

The March 6 event, run as part of Women’s History Month, will premiere the play, “Bread, Roses and Buttons: Pearl McGill and the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike,” written by Janet Schlapkohl, an MFA candidate in the University of Iowa Theater Arts Department.

One hundred years ago this month, seventeen-year-old Iowa labor activist Pearl McGill played a leading role in the work stoppage of 25,000 New England textile workers, famously known as the “Bread and Roses” strike. But the seeds of her activism were sown in Iowa’s pearl button industry in Muscatine where McGill advocated for the labor rights of 2,500 men, women, and children who faced poor wages and working conditions in the city’s numerous button factories.

This event will be held from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6 in the 2nd-floor conference room (2032) of the UI Main Library (Madison and Burlington street).

The event is free and open to the public. For further information please contact

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Iowa Women’s Archives by calling (319) 335-5068.



Women’s Equality: Myth or Reality?

Women’s Equality: Myth or Reality?


Professor Linda K. Kerber
May Brodbeck Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of History  and Lecturer in the College of Law, University of Iowa

Professor Ann Laquer Estin
Aliber Family Chair in Law, University of Iowa College of Law

Alice Dahle
Co-chair, Amnesty International USA’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

Dayna Ballantyne
Executive Director, Iowa Women’s Foundation, the Event Co-Sponsor.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

 Old Brick, 26 E. Market Street, 7:00 to 9:00 pm

The series is free and open to the public.

This is the fifth in a seven part series of community conversations sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Johnson County Education Fund Audience members will be encouraged to engage in conversation with the presenters following the approximately one hour formal presentation.
(The views expressed are those of the Speakers and not those of any supporter)

Financial Support 

Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Hawkeye Chapter of the ACLU of Iowa, Hills Bank and Trust Company, Iowa City Human Rights Commission, Johnson County Bar Association, West Bank , University of Iowa Community Credit Union, Technigraphics and Hotel Vetro.


AAUW, ACLU of Iowa, The African American Museum of Iowa, The Hawkeye Chapter of the ACLU, Iowa Citizens Action Network, Iowa City Human Rights Commission, Iowa City Public Library, Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa Women’s Foundation, Johnson County Bar Association, Kirkwood Community College, Labor Center, University of Iowa; League of Women Voters of Cedar Rapids/Marion, Iowa Women’s Archives–University of Iowa  The Women’s Resource and Action Center, University of Iowa.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Dawn Suter in advance at (319) 321-2601 or email at