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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.

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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 janet-weaver@uiowa.edu

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.

 

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Women’s Equality: Myth or Reality?

Women’s Equality: Myth or Reality?

Speakers:

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

Introduction:
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.

Supporters

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 jclwvoters@gmail.com

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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

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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