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Mujeres Latinas Project

Mujeres Latinas: Preserving Latina History in Iowa

A project to collect family and community history

Diaz family, Fort Madison, Iowa
Diaz family, Fort Madison, Iowa

Despite their significant presence in Iowa, Latinas remain largely invisible in our state’s history due to the lack of historical documents available to researchers. The Mujeres Latinas Project of the Iowa Women’s Archives has been established to collect and preserve materials which document the lives and contributions of Latinas and their families to Iowa history.

Iowa is home to Latinos and Latinas from many countries whose work reflects a wide range of occupations and professions. Few people realize that Latinos began arriving in Iowa as early as the 1880s, and that by the 1920s boxcar communities had grown up near railroad yards in towns such as Fort Madison, Davenport, and Bettendorf. Throughout the 20th century workers from Texas and Mexico followed the migrant stream through Iowa to work the tomato and sugar beet harvests.  Some chose to settle in communities such as Muscatine and Mason City well over fifty years ago. Yet where is this history?

Types of Material Collected

  • letters
  • photographs
  • diaries
  • work records
  • oral histories
  • speeches
  • newspaper articles
  • and more

To learn how you can help preserve the history of Latinas in Iowa contact the Iowa Women’s Archives.