Due to the ongoing closure of library facilities around the country, the Iowa Women’s Archives has extended the application deadline for the Linda and Richard Kerber travel grant to June 1st, 2020. Because we are uncertain about when the Archives will be accessible, the time period in which recipients can use the funds has been extended to December 31, 2021.
The Linda and Richard Kerber Fund awards $1000 to a scholar each year to help them travel to Iowa City and use the Iowa Women’s Archives for their research. The Archives accepts applications from graduate students, academic and public historians, and independent researchers and writers who reside outside a 100-mile radius of Iowa City, Iowa, and whose research projects would be substantially enriched by the use of materials held by the Iowa Women’s Archives.
Applications should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading Travel Grant Application. For more information about our travel grant and the application process please visit our website.
Ella Wagner, a PhD candidate from Loyola University is this year’s Linda and Richard Kerber travel grant recipient. Linda Kerber and her husband Richard founded this Fund for Research in the Iowa Women’s Archives that awards $1000 annually to a researcher, especially a graduate student, whose work would benefit from travelling to Iowa and using IWA’s collections.
Wagner, a public historian and graduate student, plans to use the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of Iowa records in her dissertation, “’The Saloon is Their Palace’: Race and Politics in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1874 – 1933.” When Wagner entered the PhD program at Loyola in 2015, she knew her future would be in public history, but wasn’t sure what her dissertation topic would be. But a class assignment in the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives led her to the WCTU.
Frances Willard served as the president of the WCTU from 1879 – 1898, during which time it became one of the largest women’s organizations in the country. The Frances Willard House keeps the papers of Willard herself and a variety of records related to the national WCTU organization. After her class, Wagner worked part time at the Frances Willard House as a public historian to curate a digital resource entitled “Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells” that focused on racial conflict within the WCTU. Wagner realized that her dissertation topic was right there: the racial and sectional politics of the WCTU.
In the late 1800s, the WCTU under Frances Willard was striving to expand from its original strongholds of support in the Northeast and Midwest and become a larger national organization. They formed sections of the group to attract members among black women, immigrant women, and southern women. The racial and party politics were never far from this effort as some members made publicly racist comments and couldn’t tolerate any affiliation with the traditionally abolitionist Republican party.
Iowa’s role in this dramatic conflict drew Wagner to IWA’s holdings. In the 1880s, the WCTU in an effort to subvert the two party system, officially endorsed the Prohibition Party. In response, the Iowa chapter of the WCTU elected to separate itself from the national organization and still other Iowa members split from the Iowa chapter and affiliated with the national group as the WCTU of the State of Iowa. The two would Iowa organizations would remain separate until 1906. Wagner hoped to find details illuminating that schism here and also look for the voices and involvement of women of color within the WCTU at this time. She hasn’t been disappointed. She’s found the minutes of the WCTU of the State of Iowa and also found records of several black women’s WCTU chapters in Iowa all the way to the 1960s. After a week in the Archives, Wagner can see there is plenty left to do, but she’s already imagining using the WCTU of Iowa records in the conclusion of her dissertation in 2021.
Our 2018 Linda and Richard Kerber Fund travel grant recipient is Ezra Temko, a Sociology PhD candidate at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). The Linda and Richard Kerber Fund was established to help researchers travel to the Iowa Women’s Archives. Temko has come to Iowa City from the state of Delaware, where his research investigates how cultural power and ideology are navigated around issues of racial and gender representation.
Temko became interested in Iowa after learning that in 2009, it became the only state in the U.S. to require gender balance for state and local boards and commissions. After interviewing proponents of the 2009 law, he discovered its roots went back to 1986, when a law requiring gender balance on only state boards and commissions was first passed.
Temko hoped that the papers available at the Iowa Women’s Archives would provide context for the 1986 law and the efforts to extend it. For the past week he has accessed a wealth of useful materials in the Iowa Women’s Political Caucus records, the Minnette Doderer papers, the Johnie Hammond papers, and Governor Ray’s Commission on the Status of Women records to name just a few collections.
After four days in IWA, Temko says the highlights of his research include reading constituent letters to Iowa politicians and learning more about ERA campaigns in the state. Most of all, he’s enjoyed learning about about the feminist victories of the 1970s and 1980s that we take for granted today such as the right of a married woman to have her name in the phone book without paying for it, or women’s ability to change their names after divorcing. Iowa, he says, is unique, but through his research he’s seeing connections to the feminism of the 1970s and 1980s everywhere. We can’t wait to see the results of his work!
Dr. Annessa Babic, coordinator of interdisciplinary studies at the New York Institute of Technology and Dr. Tanfer Tunç of Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey are the most recent recipients of a research grant from the Linda and Richard Kerber Fund for Research in the Iowa Women’s Archives, a grant that helps researchers travel to the Iowa Women’s Archives.
Collaborators since 2008, Tunç and Babic met in graduate school at SUNY Stony Brook where each produced feminist scholarship. In 2008, the pair co-edited The Globetrotting Shopaholic: Consumer Products, Spaces, and Their Cultural Places. Since then they have continued to produce articles together and apart examining consumerism, nationalism, and Wonder Woman, among other subjects. Although the two collaborators had planned to travel to Iowa City together, the political unrest in Turkey stifled Tunç’s plans at the last minute. Nevertheless, Dr. Babic had a fruitful week in the archives hunting for places where feminism and food activism collide.
Tunç and Babic’s current project will extend “common discussions concerning food waste, overabundance, and safety by connecting food activism to consumer activism and social and civil rights, particularly the environmental and women’s movements.” Babic believes that movements surrounding food safety and packaging are gendered due to the heavy marketing of food products to women. She and Tunç hope to explore the parallels they see between the environmental and women’s movements of the late twentieth century. Although this project is in its early stages, Babic and Tunç expect that it will result in an article that will put food activism in the cultural context of the United States from 1970 – 1990.
The duo were drawn to the Iowa Women’s Archives by its diverse holdings about grassroots movements as well as its collections of oral histories. Additionally, they were interested in exploring resources of the Midwest, a region less studied than the American coasts. Babic, who is also a travel writer, confessed that she had never been to Iowa before, and expects to produce work about the trip itself as well as the resources she found in the archives.
While here, Babic looked at the papers of farm activists such as Denise O’Brien, Carol Hodne, Ericka Peterson-Dana, and Janette Ryan-Busch, as well as the records of food activist organizations like the Mothers for Natural Law and the Women, Food and Agriculture Network. What was her favorite collection? With three days of research behind her, Babic said she most enjoyed reading oral histories from Voices From the Land, a collection produced as part of the Iowa Women’s Archives’ Rural Women’s Project. It includes intrviews with rural women who were politically active in the 1980s farm crisis. Babic said she found the farm women’s take on that era interesting and refreshing. We look forward to finding both qualities in the future work of Tunç and Babic.
In her research, Lauren looks at the changing conceptions of marital engagement in the 19th century. She argues Americans worried about the future of marriage as divorce rates rose. She believes that in response to this fear engagement increased in importance and became a trial period for the marriages that would follow. Lauren wants to expand the scope of her research to include minorities, rural women, and sources outside of the Eastern United States. After finding the Kerber Grant on H-Net, she felt the IWA’s Kerber Fund would be a good fit for her research.
When asked at the beginning of her week here what her favorite documents were so far she admitted that she hadn’t had much time to read them yet. However, she couldn’t wait to sink her teeth into Van Voorhis White’s and Riggs Cosson’s courtship correspondences with the men who they would marry. It isn’t common to have both sides of a correspondence and, as Lauren says, “that’s exactly what I’m looking for.”
We were so happy to have Lauren visit us for the week as a Kerber Fund recipient, and cannot wait to hear about the scholarship she produces.
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.