People Category


Kerber Fund Recipient Uncovers Women’s History


Say hello to Hannah Dudley-Shotwell, a scholar who is visiting the Archives this week, thanks to assistance from the Linda and Richard Kerber Fund for Research in the Iowa Women’s Archives.  Hannah is one of the first recipients of the grant, which was inaugurated last spring. She’s a doctoral candidate in History at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and is conducting research on self-help in the women’s health movement from 1970 to the start of the 21st century.

Hannah describes her research as revisiting an area of women’s activism that many assumed ended after Roe v. Wade. She argues that, while the early focus of self-help in the women’s health movement was on gynecology, after Roe v. Wade many self-help activists transformed their work, incorporating fertility consciousness, donor insemination, and holistic medicine.

Hannah’s had a great time here at IWA! Records like those of the Emma Goldman Clinic will provide important primary material for several chapters of her dissertation, and she was delighted to find material on yet another clinic in the Carol Hodne papers. Hannah describes the many newsletters and publications on women’s health that have been collected and even produced by some of the clinics she’s researched here, which played an important role in educating women about their own health.

None of this would have been possible without the help of the Linda and Richard Kerber Fund. It was this fund that first drew Hannah’s attention to our archives; little did she know how much material she would find here! We’ve been enjoying getting to know Hannah this week, and look forward to seeing where her project goes.


A history major’s thoughts on working in the IWA

Froilan Orozco

I am currently a senior at the University of Iowa and am majoring in history. To get a general idea of the kind of work a historian can do I decided to get a part-time position in the Iowa Women’s Archives (IWA). 

Froilan Orozco

Froilan Orozco in front of the Muscatine Migrant Committee sign in the Iowa Women's Archives reading room.

The activities that I have been involved in this job so far have consisted of moving boxes of historical records and helping to process material to be put in thearchives. I have worked on two collections. One dealt with the League of Women Voters of Johnson County (LWV-JC).  I found it difficult trying to find some kind of order in which to put the material. I benefited from this exercise because I really had no idea what the League of Women Voters was about, but by the end of sorting everything out I was able to get some knowledge on different aspects of the LWV.

The second collection I looked at was of some material donated by Salvador Lopez. It consisted of information on Antonia and Frederico Lopez. I had a better idea of how to work with this collection because it was not as big as the LWV. In working with this collection I learned how to compose a finding aid. While looking through the material I became exposed to the lives of different people who I could relate to. Much of the collection consisted of correspondence between Antonia and Frederico Lopez with their siblings in Mexico. The letters are written in Spanish and being a native Spanish speaker I found this part of the job to be fun because I was able to use my native language and learn the style of writing a letter in Spanish. I have written a few emails to Spanish speaking friends outside of the United States using the beginning style of many of the letters in this collection. There is a certificate of naturalization found in the collection that belonged to Frederico Lopez. This certificate made me wonder how my parents and sibling got their certificate of naturalization. In the collection of Antonia and Frederico getting a certificate is shown as a process that took quite some time. The courses that I have taken at the University of Iowa also helped in understanding some of the material. For example, I was able to see that the Mexican Revolution was a push factor for the Lopez family to leave Mexico and that the jobs offered in Iowa were a pull factor into that state. What I discovered from the letters was that communication by Antonia and Frederico Lopez with family back in Mexico was hard to maintain, which caused some concern from certain individuals in the family. I learned that in several occasions the family in Iowa sent money back to the family in Mexico. Health was also a main concern in many of the letters. Also the discussion of becoming naturalized was presented in one of the letters.

The hardest part of this process was to keep from researching every piece of information. I learned that this collection plays a part with other collections in the Mujeres Latinas Project in the IWA. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is also a collection that is located in the IWA. The fact that all these collections are tied together helps me develop a better story about Antonia and Frederico Lopez.

I was told that the finding aid is only supposed to give a glimpse of the material that can be found in the collection and is not meant to be a replacement. I have learned that the finding aid is a tool that is used as reference to the material in a collection and that it can be a very long process for an archivist to do. The organizational skills that I have been learning in this job have really helped me outside of this experience. This job has given me more appreciation for archives and archivists because after working on these two collections I have seen and learned how much work is needed in processing material. Another cool part of this job is the fact that I have been able to access parts of the library which in the past had always been a mystery to me.

–Froilan Orozco, Fall 2011