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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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Women on the Chautauqua Circuit: Winsome Lasses and Ardent Advocates

This post by Kären Mason, Curator of the Iowa Women’s Archives, was originally written for Akashic Books.

Chautauqua was an eagerly anticipated event in towns across the United States in the early 20th century. Huge tents were erected and a variety of speakers, performances, and children’s activities took place over the week the Chautauqua was in town. Red Oak, Iowa even constructed a permanent Chautauqua Pavilion in 1907, which is still standing and reputed to be the largest covered pavilion west of the Mississippi.

Many women lectured or performed on the Chautauqua circuit. Some, like Marian Elliot Adams, the main character of Unmentionables, lectured on women’s reform issues. Women’s suffrage was a popular topic in the years leading up to 1920, when the 19th Amendment at long last gave women the vote. Chautauqua provided an important venue for reformers to reach audiences all across the country.

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Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973) became an ardent suffragist while in high school and served as a field secretary for the National American Woman Suffrage Association after college. She advocated for suffrage and other reforms as a Chautauqua lecturer and was billed as “a fluent speaker sure to interest her audiences.” In 1916 she became the first woman elected to Congress, only possible because Montana had granted its women the right to vote in 1914.

While Jeannette Rankin and the fictional Marian Elliot Adams were very serious about promoting women’s issues on the Chautauqua stage, other women viewed Chautauqua as a lark. During the summer of 1926 Abbie McHenry (Romey) (1905-1994), a University of Iowa student, performed throughout the Midwest with five other students known as the Metropolitan Players. “Most of the audience turned its applause to Abbie Ann,” wrote a reporter in Greensburg, Indiana, charmed by the winsome lass he called “Amiable Abbie Ann.”  She recorded the summer’s travels in a diary and scrapbook, now in the Iowa Women’s Archives.

Abbie Ann McHenry’s sketch of the
platform manager in Kokomo, Indiana,
July 12, 1926.
 

Katharine La Sheck

For Katharine La Sheck (1891-1971), who had grown up in Iowa City, Iowa, Chautauqua offered a venue for showcasing her musical and theatrical talents. From 1911-1920 she performed with The College Girls and the Marigold Quartette, singing, acting, dancing, and playing musical instruments. Booked by the Redpath Chautauqua, the College Girls travelled to Panama in 1913 and 1914 to entertain Americans working on the canal, and performed on the cruise ships of the United Fruit Company Steamship Service.

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The Marigolds let their hair down

And have fun with some fellow travelers.

To learn more about Chautauqua, visit the website Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century.

 

Picture-7All photographs from the Iowa Women’s Archives and Department of Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.  Do not reproduce without permission. Contact the Iowa Women’s Archives at lib-women@uiowa.edu or the Special Collections Department at lib-spec@uiowa.edu.

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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. 

 

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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

 

 

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Women’s Suffrage digital collection unveiled

The Iowa Women’s Archives and University of Iowa Libraries marked Women’s Equality Day—August 26th—by unveiling a new digital collection documenting the decades-long campaign by Iowa women to gain the right to vote. The Women’s Suffrage in Iowa Digital Collection is the culmination of a yearlong project to select and scan photographs, letters, and other primary sources from the University Libraries, the State Historical Society of Iowa, and Iowa State University’s Special Collections Department.  This collection is now available through the Iowa Digital Library at http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/suffrage.  It offers researchers, teachers, students, historians, and genealogists a centralized starting point for further investigation into this significant period in Iowa’s history.Women's Suffrage in Iowa poster

 “This is a great example of the power of digitization.  “Women’s Suffrage in Iowa” brings together documents scattered through collections in the Iowa Women’s Archives and at other institutions and makes them available to a wide audience within and beyond the borders of Iowa,” said IWA curator Kären Mason.   “We hope the digital collection will entice Iowans to visit the Iowa Women’s Archives, the State Historical Society, or Iowa State. Since we were only able to include a fraction of the rich suffrage collections in Iowa there are many treasures yet to be uncovered.”  

In addition, the Iowa Women’s Archives has created an online exhibit that provides a brief introduction to Iowa’s suffrage history and points to local and state suffrage resources including websites, print materials, personal collections, newspaper archives, and contacts in various counties.  The exhibit “Iowa’s Suffrage Scrapbook: 1854-1920” is accessible at http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/exhibits/suffrage/. Among the digitized items is sheet music for a song written by Helen Cowles LeCron as Iowa geared up for a statewide referendum on women’s suffrage  in 1916:

When suffrage takes the Hawkeye State, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The world will call us wise and great, Hurrah! Hurrah!
So lend your smiles and best applause, Hurrah! Hurrah!
To help the worthy Suffrage Cause, Hurrah! Hurrah!

                 “When Suffrage Takes the Hawkeye State” by Helen Cowles LeCron

Alas, the optimism of these lyrics was not borne out.  The suffragists’  hopes were dashed in what was generally viewed as a corrupt election, heavily influenced by the liquor interests that feared a female electorate would bring about prohibition.  Iowa women had to wait another four years to vote, until the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified on August 26, 1920.  A map showing “irregularities” in the 1916 referendum and hundreds of other documents are now available online, thanks to a grant from the State Historical Society, Inc.

“By presenting the exhibit in the form of a scrapbook, we tried to evoke the feeling of doing historical research, paging through an old volume looking for clues to what people thought and did as they fought for the vote,” said Christine Mastalio, a graduate student in the University of Iowa’s School of Library and Information Science who created the exhibit and digital collection with another SLIS student, Kayla Pollock.

The Iowa Women’s Archives  (http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa) holds manuscript collections that chronicle the lives and work of Iowa women, their families, and their communities. These personal papers and organizational records date from the nineteenth century to the present. Together with oral histories, they document the activities of Iowa women throughout the state and beyond its borders. The Iowa Women’s Archives is open to the public and located on the third floor of the University of Iowa’s Main Library. Questions may be directed to lib-women@uiowa.edu or to staff at 319-335-5068. Or find the Archives on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/#!/IowaWomensArchives

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Online exhibit on LGBTQ life in Iowa City earns honorable mention from OutHistory.org

The Iowa Women’s Archives and University of Iowa Archives Collaborated on the exhibit entitled “LGBTQ Life in Iowa City, Iowa: 1967-2010,” which was entered in the “Since Stonewall Local Histories Contest” hosted by OutHistory.org.

Kären Mason, curator of the Iowa Women’s Archives and David McCartney, University Archivist, curated the exhibit, which was posted along with LGBT histories from across the country on a non-profit website dedicated to uncovering and preserving the history of the modern movement for LGBTQ rights.

The online exhibit begins with the 1967 publication of The Iowa Defender, which included an article about lesbians in Iowa City. Photo from the Iowa Women's Archives.

Rally in Iowa City to celebrate Iowa Supreme Court ruling upholding gay marriage, April 3, 2009. Photo by Laurie Haag

The Iowa City exhibit begins in 1967 with The Iowa Defender publishing an article on lesbianism in Iowa City and ends in 2010 with The Iowa City Press-Citizen naming a lesbian couple (Dawn and Jen BarbouRoske) as “Persons of the Year” for their role in challenging Iowa’s defense of marriage law and ushering in same sex marriage in Iowa in 2009. According to OutHistory.org, the exhibits are meant to be “works in progress” that continue to chronicle important events.

The curators used collections from individuals in Iowa City, the University of Iowa Archives and the Iowa Women’s Archives to compile a visual timeline of the history of LGBTQ activism in Iowa City.

Some collections used from the IWA include: Ain’t I a Woman? newsletters, Rusty Barceló papers, Tess Catalano papers, Cherry and Lockwood papers, Common Lives/Lesbian Lives records, Jill Jack papers, Jo Rabenold papers and the Women’s Resource and Action Center records. To find more collections that have materials on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activism, visit: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa/Topical_holdings_lists/LGBT.html

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Welcome to our blog!

Women’s History Month is upon us and there’s a lot happening in the Iowa Women’s Archives.  We thought it would be nice to let people know about events, collections, exhibits, and other newsworthy items, so we’ve started a blog. 

For our first post, we wanted to share a local TV news story highlighting valentines in the Iowa Women’s Archives.  This news story was prompted by a post on the Digital Library Services blog by Joanna Lee.