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Thanksgiving in Osage, 1950s-style

In 1950, Joyce Horton was a junior at the University of Iowa studying speech pathology. She was active in the Foreign Students Association, a group she really enjoyed. A few weeks before Thanksgiving she wrote a letter to the newspaper in her hometown of Osage, Iowa, suggesting that residents invite these students to spend Thanksgiving weekend in their homes, some 160 miles from Iowa City.  

As Joyce later recalled, “The letter was printed.  Some Osage folks liked the idea–and so did the foreign students. Twelve of them came with me to Osage that year and 44 came my senior year.”    

Osage family visiting with international student, 1952.

dinner table group

University students enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with Osage residents, 1952.

With the support of the local Rotary International group, Osage International Weekend became a tradition.At the time of Joyce Horton Beisswenger’s death in 2002, the program was still actively inviting international members of the university community to experience the holiday in the homes of local families.

International students with some new friends.

After graduating from the University of Iowa in 1952, Joyce Horton attended Yale Divinity School, where she met her future husband Don Beisswenger. They were active in the civil rights movement in Chicago in the 1960s before moving to Tennessee, where she earned a degree in social work.

A scrapbook documenting Osage International Weekend is among the papers of Joyce Horton Beisswenger (1930-2002) in the Iowa Women’s Archives.

 

 

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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.

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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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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

 

 

 

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Update from the Iowa Women’s Archives, October 2012

Iowa Women's Archives Celebrating 20 Years

On a sunny day 20 years ago, the Iowa Women’s Archives celebrated its opening with a symposium on Iowa women in political life featuring IWA founders Louise Noun and Mary Louise Smith. En route to the symposium, Smith stopped on the Pentacrest to speak at a rally in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was on the ballot in Iowa the following week. The ERA went down to defeat that year, but the Iowa Women’s Archives was off to a great start.

Twenty years later, the archives holds rich collections representing diverse Iowa women. Our current exhibition, Pathways to Iowa: Migration Stories from the Iowa Women’s Archives provides a window into some of the lives represented in the collections, with an emphasis on our Mujeres Latinas collections. I hope you’ll have a chance to stop in and see the exhibition.

Sincerely,
Kären Mason, Curator

 

Honoring Linda Kerber

Our friend Linda Kerber, May Brodbeck Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, retired in June. A symposium celebrating her career, A World of Citizens: Women, History, and the Vision of Linda K. Kerber, will be held October 5-6, 2012.

You can honor Dr. Kerber and support the IWA by contributing to the Linda and Richard Kerber Fund for Research in the Iowa Women’s Archives.

The Latino Midwest

The Latino MidwestA symposium at the University of Iowa, October 11-13, 2012.
Please join us in Shambaugh Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 7:00 p.m. for a keynote address by University of California-Irvine professor of history Vicki Ruiz, “Of Poetics and Politics: The Border Journeys of Luisa Moreno.”

Following the lecture, there will be a reception in the adjoining North Exhibition Hall of the Main Library, where you’ll have a chance to see the Pathways to Iowa exhibition.

For more information. . .

Upcoming events

Thurs., Oct. 25, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Judith Houck, “The Medicalization of Menopause Over the Past 100 Years.” Room 401, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, University of Iowa.

Saturday, Nov. 10, 10:30-noon
Suzanne O’Dea reading from her new book Madame Chairman: Mary Louise Smith and the Republican Revival after Watergate. North Exhibition Hall, UI Main Library.

Silent Spring at 50:
Watch for the date of an exhibit and program exploring the environmental activism of Rachel Carson and her friend Shirley Briggs, an Iowa City native whose papers are in the IWA. Phillips Hall Auditorium & Sciences Library.

 

Exhibition

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

August-November 2012.

North Exhibition Hall, Main Library, University of Iowa.

This exhibition explores a theme common to many of the collections in the Iowa Women’s Archives: migration. Documents, photos, and text illuminate the varied ways in which women from Mexico, Germany, Vietnam, and elsewhere experienced migration to Iowa between the mid-19th century and the present. The exhibition also examines the lives and work of Louise Noun and Mary Louise Smith, founders of the Iowa Women’s Archives.

Read more about the exhibition . . .

 

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About our exhibition “Pathways to Iowa”

 

Ruth Salzmann, Germany, c. 1938.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Iowa Women’s Archives, we have mounted an exhibit in the North Exhibition Hall of the University of Iowa’s Main Library. The inspiration for this exhibit came from the many visits made to the archives by families and friends of donors. Earlier this year, Sam Becker brought his grandchildren to the archives to look at the papers of their grandmother, Ruth Salzmann Becker. As they learned of her narrow escape from Nazi Germany in 1938, Ruth Salzmann’s story became one of the migration paths featured in the exhibit.

“Pathways to Iowa: Migration Stories from the Iowa Women’s Archives” seeks to acknowledge the donors of the precious letters, photos, diaries, and memoirs that make up the collections preserved in the Iowa Women’s Archives. At the same time, it seeks to re-frame our understanding of Iowa history. Beginning with the migration path of Iowa’s first people, the Meskwaki, it integrates the familiar story of European settlement with a lesser known history of African American and Mexican migration in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

LULAC women share their stories, Davenport, 2007.

For the past seven years, through its  Mujeres Latinas Project, the archives has worked to preserve the early history of Mexican migration to Iowa. We chose to highlight these materials in this exhibit because it is a history that has been hidden for too long. The Iowa Women’s Archives wishes to thank all of those who shared their stories with the Iowa Women’s Archives. A special thanks goes to the members of the Davenport League of United Latin American Citizens – LULAC Council 10 – who have done so much to preserve and bring to light the rich history of Iowa Latinas, their families, and organizations, and donated their records to the Iowa Women’s Archives so that others could learn this important history.

 

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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

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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.

LECTURE AND RECEPTION

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

Iowa Women’s Archives

3rd Floor, Main Library

 The University of Iowa

 

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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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100 Years of Girl Scouting!

Girl Scout reading room exhibit

We created a small display of Girl Scout memorabilia from Iowa Women’s Archives collections. Did you attend Girl Scout Camp? What is your favorite memory? Come see our display or type a memory here.