The following is written by graduate student and Special Collections student worker Emily Schartz
To wrap up American Heart Health Month, we’re remembering University of Iowa professor, cardiologist, and researcher Richard Kerber (1939-2016). If you have noticed the white AED (Automated External Defibrillator) boxes around, you have seen Kerber’s long-lasting impact on our campus and community. Kerber was a pioneer in Echocardiography and CPR research, as well as a driving force in expanding public defibrillation programs.
Richard Kerber was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1939. He completed an undergrad degree in anthropology at Columbia 1960 and in June of that same year married Dr. Linda Kaufman Kerber, now retired professor of history. He went on to complete medical school at New York University, graduating with his medical degree in 1964.
After school, Kerber joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps and worked in both a mobile Army surgical hospital and a base hospital in Vietnam between 1967 and 1968. He was awarded the Bronze Star in 1968 for his service. After completing his medical education with a cardiology fellowship at Stanford University, Kerber joined the University of Iowa in 1971. He remained at the University of Iowa for the rest of his career.
At Iowa Kerber took on many roles, serving as Director of Echocardiography, as well as Associate Director of the Division of Cardiovascular medicine, from 1983-2008 and Interim Director from 2009-2012. He helped establish the CPR training program for UI Hospital staff and faculty and served on task forces and committees that established the UI Hospital’s Code Blue and CPR guidelines and policies.
Outside of the University of Iowa, Kerber remained involved in Echocardiography and CPR research. He served as the 11th President of the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) from 1997-1999 and worked closely with colleagues in the American Heart Association (AHA), serving as chair of the AHA’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. His work with these organizations and taskforces helped establish the standards used to train laypeople in CPR beyond the University of Iowa.
A well-loved professor and a dedicated researcher, Kerber published more than 250 articles as well as many book chapters and abstracts over the course of his career. He was in charge of the Cardiology Fellowship Program and mentored students participating in the Short-term Minority Student Research Training Summer Program for many years.
Though he gave many lectures over the course of his time at Iowa, he is perhaps best remembered for his “Deconstructing the Body: Medical Imaging, Medical Art and the Art of Medicine,” where he examined depictions of the body in art throughout history. You can certainly sense his sense of humor from some of the art he chose to include.
Kerber had many interests outside of academics. He is remembered as a successful clarinet player and participated in orchestras and chamber groups. He was also an avid cyclist and rode in RAGBRAI (the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) multiple times.
In 2017, the Richard E. Kerber HeartSafe Initiative was launched in memory of Kerber with the goal of expanding CPR and AED training for University of Iowa faculty and staff in non-medical buildings. In 2019, inspired by the HeartSafe Intitiative, the Rotary-Kerber HeartSafe Community Campaign was launched to expand community-member training in CPR and AED use in Iowa City and Coralville. These initiatives have certainly had an impact, Johnson County was just recognized as a HeartSafe Community by the Citizen CPR Foundation in January of this year and AEDs can be found in buildings all across campus.
If you’re curious, you can find a current map of public access AEDs on the University of Iowa’s campus right here.
The following was written by academic outreach coordinator Kathryn Reuter
Reading poetry by Black authors is a great way to celebrate Black History Month! We searched through Special Collections and Archives to find materials from Black poets, some who are familiar to us, and some less so. It was tough to limit ourselves to just 10 poets to highlight, but we hope the list below provides some inspiration for your next visit to our reading room.
You can see some of these books of poetry yourself at our Black Poetry Pop-up on Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Group Area D of the Main Library (1st floor, across from Food for Thought Café). Stop by the pop-up to make some poetry of your own! We will have supplies for cut and paste and blackout poetry.
1.The Last Poets
First on our list is the poetry and music collective The Last Poets. Originally founded in Harlem, New York, in 1968, the group has since experienced several iterations with different members. Music historians and critics consider The Last Poets to be the forefathers of hip-hop because of their groundbreaking spoken word poetry and protest raps. Of their founding, Abiodun Oyewole writes, “The Last Poets were born on May 19, 1968/ In Mount Morris Park in Harlem, New York/ It was a birthday celebration in memory/ in honor of Malcolm X/ The Last Poets were on a mission/ we became the voices of the East wind/ blowing away the West with our sound/ The Last Poets, men who knew/ in their youth the truth must be told/ the lies must be revealed/ and we got to be sassy and funky and sincere/ about it” (from the poem “Invocation”). The pamphlet Selected Poems: The Last Poets was printed in 1993 and is part of the Andrew William “Sunfrog” Smith Collection of Alternative Publications. The back cover is inscribed to Sunfrog by Last Poets Umar Bin Hassan, Baba Donn Babatunde, and Abiodun Oyewole.
2. Gwendolyn Brooks
Born in 1917, Gwendolyn Brooks published her first poem at the age of 13 and would go on to have multiple pieces published in the African-American newspaper The Chicago Defender. A Street in Bronzeville (1945) was her first book of poetry, it celebrates the everyday people living on Chicago’s South Side. One of the copies held in Special Collections is inscribed by Brooks to Paul Engle, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, who praised the book in a review for the Chicago Tribune. Found in Special Collection’s second copy of A Street in Bronzeville is a photograph of Gwendolyn Brooks, her husband Henry Lowington Blakely, Jr., and their son Henry Lowington Blakely III, dated to 1945. Because the handwriting on the back of the photograph matches Gwendolyn Brooks’ inscription to Paul Engle, we believe this family photo was labeled by the author herself, and perhaps tucked into the book before giving it to a friend.
3. Margaret Walker
Like Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker was an influential poet of the Chicago Black Renaissance. Walker is also a two-time graduate of the University of Iowa. You can visit her 1940 master’s thesis, a poetry collection titled For My People, in the University Archives. With this volume of poetry, Walker won the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition. While a master’s degree student at the University of Iowa, Walker was roommates with artist Elizabeth Catlett. In 1992, the two old roommates collaborated to produce an illustrated edition of For My People. Catlett’s prints from this work are held at the Stanley Museum of Art, and you can view them on the Iowa Digital Library. Margaret Walker returned to the University of Iowa to earn her PhD in 1965. For her dissertation, she submitted her first completed draft of her acclaimed novel Jubilee.
4. Phillis Wheatley
In 1773, Phillis Wheatley became the first African American author to publish a volume of poetry. Born in West Africa, Wheatley was kidnapped and sold by slave traders. The Boston merchant John Wheatley bought her as a slave for his wife and the couple renamed the young girl. In the Wheatley household Phillis received tutoring in reading and writing – she wrote her first poem at the age of 14. Not finding publishers in New England willing to support her writing, Wheatley traveled to London where her collection Poems on Various Subject was published. Special Collections and Archives holds an issue of this volume, printed in 1834, which also includes a memoir of Wheatley written by Margaretta Matilda Odell.
5. Amira Baraka
Born Everett LeRoi Jones (in Newark, New Jersey, in 1934) Baraka changed his name to Amiri Bakraka after the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965. The same year, Baraka founded the Black Arts Repertory Theater in Harlem, New York, effectively sparking the Black Arts Movement. Baraka wrote in multiple genres, penning poems, plays, and essays. Baraka’s influence as an artist, activist, and teacher cannot be overstated. Special Collections and Archives houses two inscribed volumes of Baraka’s poetry [Selected Plays and Prose of Amiri Baraka/ LeRoi Jones (1979) and The Sidney Poet Heroical, in 29 Scenes (1979)] – as well as a sampling of poems stapled together in a pamphlet titled Black Art. Printed in 1966, this pamphlet came to the University of Iowa through the collection of artist Lil Picard.
6. Langston Hughes
Like Baraka, Langston Hughes was a writer who excelled in multiple forms. Considered a leader of the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes’ poems such as “Harlem” (also known as “A Dream Deferred”) and “I, Too” are iconic pieces of American poetry. We hold a number of Langston Hughes publications in Special Collections & Archives, but one of our favorites is this first edition of Shakespeare in Harlem, inscribed by the author to his friend Lee Crowe.
7. Rita Dove
Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa in 1977. She was U.S. Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995. Pictured here is Dove’s collection Ten Poems, of which approximately 200 copies were printed by hand in Lisbon, Iowa, at Penumbra Press in 1977.
8. Jean Toomer
Jean Toomer (born Nathan Pinchback Toomer in 1894, Washington, D.C.) might have objected to being on this list of Black poets because he resisted racial categorization and identified simply as “American”. Of mixed-raced ancestry, Toomer attended both segregated Black schools and all-white schools throughout his education. In 1921, he taught at an agricultural college in Georgia – his experiences there inspired him to start writing a series of vignettes that would be published as Cane in 1923. The novel has a non-traditional structure, combining poems and short stories about different characters. The copy of Cane seen here was published in 2000, it contains woodcuts by the artist Martin Puryear. Jean Toomer’s archival papers are held by the Beinecke Library at Yale, and some of the collection has been digitized, which you can browse here.
9. Frederick Tillis
Perhaps best known as a composer and jazz musician, Frederick Tillis (1930-2020) was also a prolific poet. He earned both his MA and PhD in music composition from the University of Iowa. You can find his dissertation (Quartet for flute, clarinet, bassoon and cello) in the University Archives and a number of his poetry books in our Iowa Authors collection.
10. Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Giovanni was one of the leading authors of the Black Arts Movement. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1943, Giovanni was raised in Ohio and attended Fisk University. Until 2022, she taught as a university distinguished professor at Virginia Tech. In addition to numerous poetry collections, Giovanni has authored several children’s books and was nominated for a Grammy Award (for Best Spoken Word or Non-musical Album) for The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection. We love the cover of this 1971 publication Re:Creation, which features the photography of Chester Higgins.
We are happy to welcome Kate Orazem as the inaugural Iowa Women’s Archives Women in Politics Archivist.
Orazem joined the team at the beginning of October. She received a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) and Master of Arts in women’s and gender studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts in history from Yale University. Orazem recently worked as the first archivist for the Rural Organizing Project in Oregon, a network of community activists across small-town and rural Oregon. Her work in the Iowa Women’s Archives will focus on collecting, processing, and bringing to light the stories of Iowa women and politics.
When asked about working in this new position, Orazem stated she was “looking forward to building community with people at the University of Iowa, across the state, and beyond who are passionate about the rich history and future of Iowa women and their political work.”
The Jean Lloyd-Jones and Michal Eynon Lynch Iowa Women’s Archives Women in Politics Archivist was generously funded by Jean Lloyd-Jones (71MA), who spent 16 years as an Iowa legislator and much of her life advocating for women—from all backgrounds and political affiliations—to pursue careers in politics. This is the second named position in the Libraries and Orazem will be formally invested into the role in 2023. Orazem will help update, maintain, and expand the Hard Won, Not Done—A Salute to Iowa Women Politicians online project. Learn more about Lloyd-Jones and the “Hard Won, Not Done” initiative here.
As an archivist, Orazem says she is a big dabbler and has always loved the generalist nature of the archival profession. “Whether it’s developing relationships with donors, assisting researchers on their subjects of expertise, working with students who are new to archives, or interviewing people about the stories they’ve lived, you get to wear many different hats and dip a toe into many different projects, so my passion for the work is constantly renewed.”
When not working in the IWA, Orazem enjoys seeing live music, playing euchre, and exploring local cemeteries (wait till she hears about our haunted stacks!)
We are so happy to have Kate on the team and look forward to watching her grow the IWA as the Women in Politics Archivist.
The following comes from university archivist Sarah Keen
Have you heard footsteps where no corporeal being is walking? Have unexplainable events occurred in your building that have no humanly cause? Are there spaces on campus where the spirits of those who have walked this earth before us feel particularly present?
If so, the University Archives would like to hear your tales of paranormal encounters on campus and in Iowa City. Share your spooky stories to be added to the archives and shared with the campus community.
The following is written by academic outreach coordinator Kathryn Reuter.
On Tuesday, October 4th, 2022, join the Stanley Museum of Art & the University of Iowa Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives as they celebrate the 123rd birthday of artist Lil Picard! Crafts and cake will be available in the Stanley Museum lobby from 12-2pm, and there will be a pop-up exhibit of Picard’s artworks and items from her archives in the Visual Laboratory (third floor of the museum). Learn more about the event here.
Lil Picard was born Lilli Elisabeth Benedick in Germany on October 4th, 1899. She got her start as an artist and performer by singing and dancing in cabarets in Berlin in the 1920s.
Later she worked as a fashion editor for German publications until the anti-Semitic policies of the National Socialist Party caused her and her second husband, Henry Odell, to immigrate to the United States in 1936.
In their new home in New York City, Lil Picard took English lessons as well as design and lettering classes. She began selling her accessories and jewelry designs to department stores before establishing her own milliner studio at 555 Madison Avenue in 1939. In 1942, she opened “Custom Hat Box”, a milliner counter in Bloomingdale’s.
In addition to her hat making, Lil Picard supported herself as a journalist, writing for German newspapers and art magazines as well as American publications such as Art Magazine, Andy Warhol’s Interview, and The East Village Other.
As an artist, Lil Picard worked in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, watercolor and drawings, collages, assemblages, and performance art. Her performance art, especially, was an avenue for expressing her militant views on the Vietnam War and on social and environmental issues.
From 1955-1981, Lil Picard had fifteen solo exhibitions (in both the United States and Germany) and her work was included in more than forty group shows. She participated in six Avant Garde Festivals of New York between 1967 and 1975. Increasingly blind during her last years, Lil Picard became reclusive, dying without descendants on May 10, 1994.
Lil Picard bequeathed her entire estate to the University of Iowa. Her artworks are in the collection of the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, and her archives (where most of these photos are from) are part of the University of Iowa Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives, as the Lil Picard Papers, MsC0817
A new exhibit bound to make you feel warm and fuzzy is up in the Special Collections & Archives reading room.
Curated by lead outreach and instruction librarian Elizabeth Riordan and academic outreach coordinator Kathryn Reuter, the exhibit A Tale of Tails: Pets in the Archives explores the pets found in Special Collections & Archives, expanding on how the notion of the “pet” continues to grow and morph with the changing years while recognizing some of the aspects of pet ownership that remain constant.
As Riordan explained, “at the beginning of the pandemic I saw so many people on social media adopting new pets. And studies have shown a huge increase in pet adoption at the beginning of the pandemic. I myself adopted a kitten in May of 2020. It made me really think about the comfort pets bring during difficult times.”
When Riordan returned to working in person at the library, it was hard not to notice the pets that seemed to be everywhere in the collections. Whether featured in family photos, on the margins of an image, or companions in a story, pets were there. While theseanimal companions were nothing new to the collections, recent events and personal experiences put these archived pets in a whole new light.
As Riordan and Reuter write in their curator statement:
“Despite some of the reportssaying many people returned those animals they adopted once the pandemic started to slow down, it should be noted that an overwhelming majority chose to keep their pets. They join the billions of humans across time and space who see pet keeping as an extraordinary yet common human experience. “
The curators hope that those who visit the exhibit see some of their own pet history in the stories on display and reflect on our bond with animals we choose to bring into our homes and lives.
To get to know the exhibit, Riordan and Reuter have selected 10 items from the exhibit that they are particularly fond of:
1.Dog Tags from the Ruth Salzmann Becker Collection, IWA 0123
Licensing a pet is one of the more concrete ways humans assert official ownership over an animal. Dog tags also demonstrate the potential dangers of living with animals – as dogs must be vaccinated against rabies before receiving a license. The oldest dog tag displayed in the exhibit is from 1915, it was the license of a dachshund that belonged to Ruth Salzmann Becker’s cousin.
2. The complete idiot’s guide to Pet Psychic Communication
If you’ve ever wished you could tell your pet just how much you love them- or, if you’ve ever really needed your pet to get on board with the house rules – this book is for you!
3. SNACKS by PAS DE CHANCE,
This zine is a compilation of Lost Pet posters readers photographed and sent in from around the globe. We hope that many of the posters resulted in reunions between pet and owner.
4. The Wizard of Oz
In the Wizard of Oz, most animals in the land of Oz have the ability to speak. For the first four books of the Oz series, Toto, unlike the other animals, does not have the gift of speech. In the eighth book, Toto reveals that while he is able to talk, he simply chooses not to.
5. This is the Story of Little Cat
The illustrations in this picture book are all so sweet, it was difficult to choose just one page to display for the exhibit.
6. Portrait of Ruth and cat from Ruth Suckow Papers, MsC0706
Ruth Suckow’s papers include a whole photo album dedicated to her cats. But it is this painting done by Ruth’s husband Ferner Nuhn that really demands attention. An older Ruth, somehow still exhibiting a youthful aura due to her clothes, holds up a white cat, obscuring much of her face. The relationship of the woman and her cat comes strongly across to viewers.
Honestly, this isn’t even in Special Collections, it’s an image from Stanley Museum of Art. And even though we just have a picture of it for this exhibit (you’ll have to go next door to the Museum to see the real thing), we can’t help but smile ourselves when we see it.
8. Les Chats
Les Chats by François-Augustin Paradis de Moncrif is considered one of Western Europe’s first books devoted to cats. The book contains several fantastic images of cats from ancient Egypt to “modern day” (18th century) France.
9. Andy Warhol cat books
We have two books from Andy Warhol about his cats. Warhol is famous for having several cats at once, all named Sam. The exhibit features his 25 Cats named Sam and One Blue Pussy and a book he did with his mother Julia called Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother.
10. Where the Red Fern Grows
This was put in there purely for sentimental reasons. As a child, this book was read aloud in class, and memories of crying as we reached the end of the story are still vivid in the mind. It is a devastating tale, but that sorrow was because Wilson Rawls painted such a real relationship between a boy and his dogs. Those who have experienced the loss of a beloved pet probably still will cry ugly tears over this book.
Perhaps the best part of the exhibit, however, is the growing wall of library staff pet photos. This part of the exhibit has already caught the eye of several students and patrons passing our doors. It is a testament to the power of pets when you see strangers smiling at pictures of your own pets.
We are pleased to announce Rich Dana as Special Collections and Archives’ Sackner Archive Project coordinator librarian.
Rich Dana earned his MFA from the University of Iowa Center for the Book in 2021 and his MA from the School of Library and Information Science in 2020. He has worked as an art mover, art fabricator and art installer, and curator for a variety of New York City galleries and institutions, and has served as a freelance instructor and workshop leader for several years. He has also held various roles at Special Collections and Archives: as curatorial assistant for the Hevelin Collection, the Olson graduate research assistant, and temporary project registrar for the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry.
In addition to his past work with the Sackner Archive, Dana is himself a copier artist (one of his works is included in the Sackners’ collection) and independent publisher. His 2021 book Cheap Copies! describes some of the techniques used by artists in the collection, and he frequently leads workshops on copier art techniques.
When asked what he enjoys about the Sackner Archive, Dana stated, “Because the Sackners were enthusiastic autodidacts and made personal connections to many of the artists whose work they collected, the archive has a very lively and idiosyncratic quality. It’s not only an astounding collection of visual poetry, it’s also a remarkable historical record of the movement.”
Dana looks forward to raising awareness of this amazing resource and making the materials in the collection more accessible to patrons and researchers. We are so glad to have him on the team.
We are pleased to welcome Sarah Keen as our new university archivist in Special Collections & Archives.
Sarah joined the Libraries at the start of the fall semester. She comes to Iowa from upstate New York, where she served as Colgate University Libraries’ university archivist and head of Special Collections and University Archives. Previously, she was technical services archivist and American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences project archivist at Cornell University Library, and archivist for the Jane Harman Congressional Papers Project at Smith College. She earned her MSI from the University of Michigan and her BA from Alma College.
As an archivist, Sarah says that she enjoys “learning about people’s lives and their experiences as individuals and with the organizations they create.” She looks forward to learning about the University, its complex history, and its wide range of activities while collaborating with colleagues across campus.
When not digging through the archives, Sarah enjoys rowing, crocheting, and listening to music. She is also a Red Sox fan, and she enjoys reading mystery books and watching mystery/detective shows. Have we already told her about the culinary murder mystery books in Szathmary’s collection? You bet we have.
Welcome Sarah! We’re excited to have you on the team.
The following is written by Rachel Miller-Haughton, former Olson Graduate Research Assistant and curator of All Women Welcome exhibit
All Women Welcome: Voices of Activist Iowa Women is the summer 2022 exhibit in the Special Collections Reading Room. The culmination of my time as the 2020-2022 Olson Graduate Research Assistant, the exhibit features images, documents, and materials from the collections of interesting, trailblazing Iowa women. Writing our #VoicesfromtheStacks series allowed me insight into previously unseen collections from people of all backgrounds. The goal is to expand our holdings in all directions to reflect the diversity of the University of Iowa and this community.
The women featured in this exhibit made an impact in the causes they worked for, both within their communities of identity and for all human rights. While these women’s lives did not often overlap, the positive changes they made touched many lives. Ayako Mori Costantino’s family immigrated from Japan, Florence Vallejo Terronez’s from Mexico. They worked to better their communities of origin, but also advocated for human rights, as did Virginia Harper. Pearl McGill fought for all worker’s rights. Corita Kent and Lil Picard turned to art for their messages. Picard was a journalist, as was Judy Hoit, whose writings on disability in the workplace made Iowa more accessible. Tess Catalano fought for women’s rights in the 80s as well as gay rights. The intersectionality of these activists’ work was necessary. All saw themselves as part of a lineage of advocates. My hope is for this lineage to continue with new voices at Special Collections. These are just some of the many diverse stories told in the archives, and more voices will join them in the future.
Here are the women featured in the All Women Welcome exhibit:
(Lil Picard Papers, MSC 0817)
Lil Picard (1899-1994) was born in Landau, Germany. She lived in Berlin, and was involved with writers, artists, composers, filmmakers, and actors. Lil Picard appeared in cabaret performances, then turned to journalism, fashion designing and modeling. Lil and her husband Hans Jüdell immigrated to the United States in 1936, alarmed by the anti-Semitic policy of the national socialist government.
She learned English and took design and lettering classes, opened a milliner studio, and from the 1950s forward she worked as a journalist and artist. She had exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, watercolors, and photos. She participated in Avant Garde Festivals of New York. She was financially independent when few women were, tested boundaries, and committed her writing and art to social justice, equality, and peace.
(Judy Herron Hoit papers, IWA 0373)
Judy Herron Hoit (1945-2019) was born on a farm south of Coon Rapids, Iowa. When she was four, she contracted polio. In 1952 she received six months of treatment at a polio facility built by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Georgia. Hoit spent six years at Warm Springs, returning to her home when she was thirteen. She graduated from Guthrie Center High School in 1964. In 1977 Hoit and her sons moved to Iowa City where she worked as a receptionist and typist. Though many people suggested she request disability status, she resisted the idea. Hoit authored several articles explaining disability access and disability awareness. Judy won the Handicapped Woman of Iowa Pageant in 1991, which led to many speaking engagements for her throughout the state. She created a consulting business which addressed accessibility and awareness issues for people with disabilities. In 1996 Hoit was named Ms. Wheelchair Iowa. She was state coordinator for Ms. Wheelchair Iowa in 1997 and 1998.
(McGill Family papers, IWA 0543)
Button worker, early twentieth century labor activist, and teacher, Ora Pearl McGill (1894-1924), was born on a small farm in Louisa County, Iowa. Known as Pearl, she left her home at the age of sixteen to work at a Muscatine, IA button factory, intending to save her wages and become a schoolteacher. She quickly became involved in a union organizing drive that was underway in the Muscatine button factories and served as recording secretary of the Button Workers Protective Union (BWPU) No. 12854, an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
She became a strike worker, making countless speeches to local unions in industrial cities across the country, including St. Louis, New York City and Boston, to raise money to support the striking button workers in Muscatine. Later she joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and was an outspoken activist and organizer during the Lawrence textile strike of 1912. In 1913 she taught at a rural school in Lone Tree, Iowa. On April 30, 1924, she was murdered by Ed Vance (her ex-husband), following his release from a mental institution. Pearl McGill was inducted into the Iowa Labor Hall of Fame at the 2006 convention of the Iowa Federation of Labor.
FLORENCE VALLEJO TERRONEZ
(Florence Vallejo Terronez papers, IWA 0577)
Florence Vallejo Terronez was born in Horton, Kansas, in 1924 to Martina Morado and Julio (Julius) R. Vallejo. Martina Morado was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and came to the United States in 1910 when she was thirteen years old with her mother, Angela Morado, and her brother. The family settled in the railroad town of Horton, Kansas, where the children helped their mother run a boarding house. Julio Vallejo, like many railroad workers, was laid off during the Depression, and for two seasons the entire family worked the beet fields in Minnesota. In 1941, when the railroad in Horton closed, the family moved to West Des Moines, Iowa, where Julio Vallejo continued to work as a pipefitter for the Rock Island Railroad. Florence Vallejo attended school in West Des Moines. During the 1940s and 1950s she continued to live with her family, working as a nurse’s aide at Broadlawns Medical Center and as a long-distance telephone operator for the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company. In 1956, Florence Vallejo married Antonio (Anthony) Terronez.
Florence Terronez became a full-time mother, managing the household and caring for her four stepchildren and two more children who were born later. She was involved in her children’s school and church activities, sang in the church choir, and later worked as a nurse’s aide at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Rock Island, Illinois. Following her retirement she volunteered with the Genesis Medical Center in Silvis, Illinois, and served on the community service auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in East Moline, Illinois.
(Tess Catalano papers, IWA 0527)
Human rights activist and singer-songwriter Theresa Mary “Tess” Catalano (1959-1999) was active in organizations such as the Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) and Common Lives/Lesbian Lives that supported feminists and lesbians. She was born in Athens, Ohio, in 1959. She attended Allegheny College for one year, then came to Iowa City and completed a BA at the University of Iowa in 1985. She organized Take Back the Night rallies, was arrested for protesting South African apartheid, and sang at benefits for the causes she cared most about.
Catalano supported herself during her undergraduate years by driving city and school buses and working at the University of Iowa’s accounting and maintenance departments. Catalano became a certified massage therapist after completing training at the Desert Institute of the Healing Arts in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1994. She returned to Iowa City where she practiced massage until she and her partner, Rebecca Teasdale, moved to Oregon in 1997. After a year in Portland, the couple moved to Eugene, Oregon, where Tess Catalano died suddenly in 1999. Memorial services were held in both Eugene and Iowa City as hundreds of people mourned her passing and remembered her contributions to their communities.
AYAKO ‘A. MORI’ COSTANTINO
(Ayako ‘A. Mori’ Costantino papers, IWA 0905)
Ayako “A. Mori” Mori Costantino (1924-2020) was born in Sacramento, California. As a child, she and her family were interned at Tule Lake in 1942, one of thousands of Japanese-American families whose lives and farms were taken away from them because of their heritage during the Second World War. She was heavily involved in activism and worked towards redress for those who had been interned, as well as women’s, minority, and civil rights–especially when she lived in Iowa City. In October 1946 after the end of World War II, Costantino, working with occupation forces, travelled to Japan for a stenography job. While in Japan she met and married a military serviceman, Anthony “Tony” Costantino, in 1948. Costantino and her husband had two children, son Mori, and daughter Toni.
Integral to the creation of the Iowa City Human Relations Commission in 1963, Mori Costantino assisted in drafting the Iowa City Human Rights Ordinance. She also spearheaded a project to investigate housing discrimination with a League of Women Voters volunteer task force of 47 women. The housing investigation led to the passage of a fair housing law in 1964 mandating non-discriminatory housing practices and establishing enforcement procedures. In 1977, Costantino was elected to represent Iowa at the National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas. In addition to her service to multiple organizations, Mori Costantino has also helped campaign for multiple Democratic candidates and volunteered her time and efforts to the Johnson County Democrats.
(Virginia Harper papers, IWA 0199)
Lillie Virginia Harper (1929-1997) was born in Fort Madison, Iowa. Harper studied at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) for three years, at Howard University, and graduated from the College of Medical Technology in Minneapolis. She was an x-ray technician and medical assistant in her family’s clinic until it closed in 1977. In 1946, when only twenty African-American women were enrolled at the University of Iowa, Harper was one of the five chosen to live on campus, in Currier Hall.
In 1971 Governor Robert Ray appointed Harper the first African-American woman to serve on the state Board of Public Instruction. In that position she worked towards instituting a human relations course requirement for teachers. In 1979 she was the first Black woman appointed to the Iowa Board of Parole. In 1978 Harper was president of the Fort Madison branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Her other civic activities included work as a volunteer at the Fort Madison penitentiary and as a member of both the Fort Madison Human Rights Commission and the Library Board of Trustees. In 1992 Harper was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in recognition of her commitment to equal rights.
(Josephine Marie Pletscher papers, IWA 0913)
Corita Kent (1918–1986) was an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. At age 18 she entered the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary, eventually teaching in, and then heading up, the art department at Immaculate Heart College. Her work evolved from figurative and religious to incorporating advertising images and slogans, popular song lyrics, biblical verses, and literature. Throughout the ‘60s, her work became increasingly political, urging viewers to consider poverty, racism, and injustice. In 1968 she left the order and moved to Boston.
After 1970, her work evolved into a sparser, introspective style, influenced by living in a new environment, a secular life, and her battles with cancer. She remained active in social causes until her death in 1986. At the time of her death, she had created almost 800 serigraph editions, thousands of watercolors, and innumerable public and private commissions. Her works are held in the Stanley Museum of Art as well as in Iowa Women’s Archives.
Be sure to check out the exhibit through the end of August in Special Collections & Archives Reading Room, located on the 3rd floor of the Main Library.
The following is written by Academic Outreach Coordinator Kathryn Reuter
In honor of Pride month, we are highlighting some queer zines in our collections.
A zine is a hand-made and self-published pamphlet that can contain writings, collages, comics, illustrations, and other artwork. Zines are made in a variety of styles and cover endless types of content; makers are motivated by the possibilities of self-expression and creativity in this medium. For a brief history of zines, and to find more zines in our collections you can refer to this resource from the University of Iowa Special Collections & Archives.
Because of their low production cost and the lack of oversight and censorship in making a zine, zines can be especially appealing to members of marginalized communities or counter-culture movements. An early subculture that embraced zines was the Science Fiction Fan community; fans would produce zines with newsletters, fan art, and fan fiction to share with others in the fandom.
In self-publishing their own work, people who are intentionally excluded from traditional media and who have barriers to accessing the institutions of publishing and academia can “take the mic” and make a zine on any topic they are passionate about. Other subcultures that adopted the counterculture self-expression of zines include the punk music movement and the riot grrrl movement. Alongside these movements, queer folks have been making and reading zines for decades.
Some of the queer zines in our collections have an informative bent to them, such as Asexual, Bisexual, Cissexual: A Sexual Identity Glossary and Dykes and Fags Want to Know, which features interviews with lesbian political prisoners. Here we can see an example of how queer zine culture frequently blends with other movements for social/ political justice, including the Prisoners’ Rights Movement and the movement for Prison Abolition.
In the same collection – ZINES AND FANZINES (MsC0331) – we came across the zine series The Life and Times of Butch Dykes which features wonderfully illustrated brief biographies of lesbians you probably did not learn about in history class.
Queer history is a subject that mainstream society for years has intentionally overlooked. By producing and spreading zines that share queer histories, zine makers are emphatically stating: we are here, we have always been here, and we belong here.
Even with the positive and inclusive messages in queer zines, their makers acknowledged that the content of their creations would not be accepted by all. In the front matter of the zine Homocore, the editors explain how to subscribe to the zine and reassure readers that issues are “mailed in a plain envelope to accommodate your oppressive environment.” Queer people were at risk of being discriminated against by landlords, neighbors, roommates, or even family members who may have seen their mail.
Despite this risk, queer zine makers and readers were leveraging the postal system as a tool for community building. Zines like Holy Titclamps and Homocore featured sections for printing letters from folks seeking pen pals, people who were interested in zine swaps and subscriptions, and even people looking to swap records and share music.
In addition to building personal relationships, zines offered the opportunity to organize readers in social justice efforts. For example, Issue 7 of Homocore includes a full page outlining the Marlboro/ Miller Boycott of 1990-1991. The boycott, organized by ACT-UP/San Francisco and ACT-UP/Washington DC, aimed to unseat conservative Senator Jesse Helms (who was a vocal opponent of gay rights and feminism). Helms received hefty political donations from Phillip Morris, makers of Marlboro cigarettes and then-parent company of Miller Brewing. Homocore writes, “Helms lives in the tobacco industry’s back yard; he supports them with legislation, they support him with money” and outlines reasons to participate in the boycott. For decades, zine editors have used their zines as a political tool to amplify the efforts of queer organizers and queer rights campaigns.
If you can’t stop by Special Collections & Archives to read zines this summer, we highly recommend the Queer Zine Archive Project – an online archive “to preserve queer zines and make them available to other queers, researchers, historians, punks, and anyone else who has an interest in DIY publishing and underground queer communities.”