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Collections Relating to African American Women

Individual and Family Papers

Clubs and Organizations

Oral Histories

Related Collections

Printed Materials

Digital Collection (selections from manuscript collections)


Individual and Family Papers

ANDERSON, RUTH BLUFORD (1921- )

Papers, 1977-1997. 0.5 linear inches.

Professor Emeritus of Social Work at the University

of Northern Iowa, author, and Black Hawk County Supervisor.

ATKINSON, EDITH REED (1919- )

Papers, 1935-1997. 2 linear inches.

Singer, radio-script editor, and production scheduler from Cedar Rapids. Performed in a song-and-dance act with brothers Wallace and Cecil Reed from 1935 to 1944.

BERRY, JEAN (1938- )

Papers, 1989-1996. 4 linear inches and audiovisual material.

Des Moines-based artist.

BERRY, VENISE T. (1956- )

Papers, 1990-1998. 5 linear inches.

Novelist and assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Iowa.

BURLESON, JANE (1928- )

Papers, 1956-1998. 2.5 linear inches.

Teacher’s aide, packinghouse worker, and union activist who was the first woman and also the first African American elected to the Fort Dodge City Council.

CALDERON, BARBARA M. (1915- ).

Papers, 1945-1968, 1995. 18 items.

Nursing administrator who was also the first African American public health nurse in Iowa.

COOPER, CECILE (1900-1997).

Papers, 1964-1998. 3 linear inches.

Civil rights worker in Davenport.

COTHORN, MARGUERITE (1909-1998).

Papers, 1928-1995. 2.75 linear inches.

Social worker and political activist, who served on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission from 1983 to 1984.

DAVIS, ALDEEN (1916-2001).

Papers, 1954-1995. 1.5 linear feet and audiovisual material.

Muscatine, Iowa, newspaper columnist active in arts, civic, educational, and religious organizations.

DICKENS, MARY (1925- ).

Papers, 1991-1993 and undated. 7 items.

Community activist, volunteer, and poet in Waterloo.

EICHACKER, LOIS H. (1932- ).

Papers, 1905-1998. 9 linear inches.

Fort Madison civic leader and former president of The University of Iowa Alumni Association Board.

FELTON, GERALDENE (1926- )

Papers, 9 linear inches.

Professor and former dean of the University of Iowa College of Nursing.

FOWLER, GWENDOLYN WILSON (1907-1997)

Papers, 1905-1996. 5.5 linear feet.

The first African American woman pharmacist licensed in Iowa and a presidential appointee to the United States Foreign Service in the 1950s.

FURGERSON, BETTY JEAN (1927- )

Papers, 1944-1995 (bulk 1993-1995). 6 linear feet.

Teacher, social worker, human rights commission director, and university regent from Waterloo.

GREENE, ARCHIE L. (1945- )

Papers, 1963-1998. 5 linear inches.

Writer and volunteer who earned a doctorate in English from the University of Iowa while living with spinocerebellar degeneration.

GRIFFIN, EDNA (1909-2000)

Papers, 1948-2004, 2 linear inches.

Civil rights activist, later known as the “Rosa Parks of Iowa.”

HARPER, VIRGINIA (1929-1997)

Papers, [1940s]-1997. 1 linear foot.

One of five African American women who integrated Currier Hall at the University of Iowa in 1946. Former president of the Fort Madison Chapter of the NAACP.

HARPER-BARDACH, PHYLLIS (1928- )

Papers, 1940-1998.  18 linear inches.

Educator of hearing-impaired children and retired professor of Education at the University of Iowa.

HARRIS, LILEAH (1931- )

Papers, 1961-1995. 3.7 linear feet.

Professional volunteer active in several arts, civic, educational, and religious organizations in Cedar Rapids.

HAWKINS, E. MARIE (1931- )

Papers, 1991-1997. 1 linear inch.

Iowa City elementary school teacher.

HAWTHORNE, FRANCES (1929- )

Papers, 1913-1996. 10 linear inches.

Research materials of Frances Hawthorne regarding African Americans in Iowa include oral history interviews and the videocassette You Can’t Go Back to Buxton.

JOHNSON, LULU MERLE (1907-1995)

Papers, 1930-1995. 1 linear inch.

First African American woman in Iowa to earn a doctorate.

JONES, GRACE MORRIS ALLEN (1876-1928)

Papers, 1927-1975. 6 items (photocopies).

Burlington, Iowa born educator and wife of Dr. Laurence C. Jones, founder of Piney Woods Country Life School in Piney Woods, Mississippi.

JONES, LEAH A. (1965- )

Papers, 1983-1997. 7 items.

Chicago native and 1987 graduate of the University of Iowa. Papers include a memoir of her experiences in Iowa.

LEMME FAMILY

Papers, 1970-1998. 5 items.

Traces the family history of Helen Lemme, an Iowa City community leader, who was named the city’s first Woman of the Year in 1955.

LLOYD, BILLIE (1940-1991)

Papers, 1957-1995. 2.5 linear inches.

Social worker, community activist, and civic administrator who founded the Quad Cities Conference on Black Families, Inc.

MACKAY, DORA E. (1915- )

Photographs, 1932-2006. 0.25 linear inches.

Beautician, shop owner, and singer in Des Moines; co-founder of the Mary Church Terrell Club #2.

MARSH, MARJORIE. (1913- )

Papers, 1993-1997. 7 items.

Fort Madison, Iowa, native, and active club member and volunteer.

MAYS, A. LOUISE. (1914- )

Papers, 1939-1997. 2.5 linear inches.

Social worker and University of Iowa professor.

MITCHELL, AZALIA (1898-1986)

Papers, 1911-1988. 5 linear inches.

Mitchell and her husband operated the Community Pharmacy in Des Moines for 25 years.

MORRIS, ARLENE ROBERTS. (1926- )

Papers, 1946-1996. 1 linear inch.

Clinical psychologist and University of Iowa alumna; member from 1960 to 1967 of the Des Moines Know Your Neighbor panel, a multiracial and multi-faith group of women organized to promote tolerance.

MUHANJI, CHERRY (1939- )

Papers, 1984-2006. 5 linear inches.

Writer, lesbian activist, and University of Iowa alumna.

NASH, MARTHA ANN (1925- )

Papers, 1939-1998. 2.75 linear feet.

Executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Education and Vocational Training in Waterloo from 1981 to 1995 who was an active member of the Dubuque Archdiocese Council for Catholic Women.

PAGE, BETTY MAE. (1929- )

Correspondence, 1969-1996. 4 items.

Waterloo resident who served as a member of the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women during the early 1970s.

PHILLIPS, SARILDA (1877-1971)

Papers, 1913-1986. 5 linear inches.

Mississippi school teacher who was forced into retirement in 1956 following desegregation.

REED, OLABELLE. (1935- )

Papers, 1935-1997.10 items.

Teacher, community activist, and co-founder of Club Les Dames, an African American women’s club in Waterloo.

SCALES, LILLIAN MOORE. (19??-1994)

Papers, 1938-1958.

Estherville, Iowa-born homemaker and teacher who was active in literary, political, and religious groups in Des Moines.

SCOTT, JACQUELINE. (19xx – )

Papers, 1988-1997. 2.5 linear inches.

Elementary school teacher in Keokuk, Iowa.

SHOOTS, JEAN (1926- )

Papers, 1990-1998.1 linear inch.

Writer, performer, volunteer, and nurse in Iowa City.

SOUTHALL, GENEVA HANDY (1925-2004)

Papers, 1960-2004. 3 linear inches and audiovisiual materials.

Professor Emeritus of Afro-American Studies and Music at the University of Minnesota; University of Iowa alumna.

TATE, ELIZABETH (BETTYE) CRAWFORD (1906- )

Papers, 1932-1996. 5 linear inches.

Owned and operated a boarding house for male African American students at the University of Iowa during the 1940s and 1950s.

WALLS, ESTHER J. (1926- )

Papers, 1860s-1996 (bulk 1944-1996). 1.75 linear feet.

Mason City, Iowa native and New York-based librarian and administrator. She was the first African American female student at the University of Iowa elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

WHITE, MAUDE ESTHER (1913-2003)

Papers, 1957-1996. 8 linear inches.

Founder of the Des Moines Tutoring Center, which she operated out of her home from 1980 to 1991 and Iowa’s first Affirmative Action Administrator from 1973 to 1978.

WILKERSON, BESSIE

1 item, 1994.

Former seamstress and long-time resident of Fort Madison, Iowa.

WILLIAMS, CATHERINE GAYLE (1914- )

Papers, 1910s-1991. 1.3 linear feet.

Professional dancer and deputy commissioner of the Iowa Department of Social Services.

WILLIAMS, VERDA  L. (1944- )

Papers, 1969-1998. 1 linear foot.

Filmmaker and producer who wote and produced the documentary “Black Des Moines: Voices Seldom Heard.”

WOMMACK, BARBARA (1918- )

Papers, 1990-2005. 1 linear inch.

Clubwoman and member of the Semper Fidelis Club in Davenport, Iowa.

WOOD, MARY ELIZABETH (1902-1998)

Papers, 1920-1998. 2.5 linear feet.

Social worker and administrator who in 1957 became the first African American woman in the United States to be named executive director of a greater metropolitan YWCA


Records of Clubs and Organizations

BOOSTER WOMEN’S CLUB (FT. MADISON)

Records,1947-1998. 2.5 linear inches.

Social and philanthropic club organized by African American women in Fort Madison, Iowa, in 1947 and disbanded in 1998.

HELEN LEMME READING CLUB (IOWA CITY)

Records, 1984-1998. 4 linear inches.

African American reading club formed in 1984 by University of Iowa graduate students.

IOWA FEDERATION HOME

Pamphlet, 1929.

Founded by the Iowa Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs in 1919 to house African American female students at the University of Iowa.

SEMPER FIDELIS CLUB (DAVENPORT)

Records, 1998-1999. 0.25 linear inches.

Includes an article about the history of the Iowa Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc, which the Semper Fidelis Club was affiliated with.

UNITED SISTERS OF BLACK HAWK COUNTY

Records, 1984-1996. 10 linear inches.

Iowa affiliate of Networking Together, Inc., an organization for women of color.

YWCA OF GREATER DES MOINES

Records, 1895-1995.10 linear feet.

Local chapter affiliated with the National YWCA in 1896. Includes records of the Blue Triangle, the chapter’s African American branch from 1919-1947.

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Oral Histories

“BLACK DES MOINES: VOICES SELDOM HEARD.” Videocassette, 1985.[V006]

Documentary produced by Verda L. Williams for WOI-Television, Iowa State University, Ames. The oral history interviews are in the Verda Williams papers.

GIVING VOICE TO THEIR MEMORIES

Interviews with 13 African American women in Iowa conducted by Kathryn Neal and Julia Siverls for the Iowa Women’s Archives. Includes audiotapes, transcripts and a small amount of associated materials.

  • Berry, Dora Martin, elected Miss State University of Iowa in 1955.
  • Bolden, Louise, Centerville native and University of Iowa (UI) employee.
  • Davis, June, civil rights activist and UI administrator.
  • Dungy, Madgetta, Cornell College and UI alumna, UI adminstrator.
  • Felton, Geraldene, Professor and Dean of the UI College of Nursing.
  • James, Barbara, teacher and UI alumna.
  • James, Barbara.  Interview about her mother, Pauline Humphrey, a cosmetologist in Des Moines.
  • Johnson, Helen I., Marshalltown native and department store manager.
  • Penney, Dianna, artist and UI employee.
  • Southall, Geneva, University of Minnesota professor and UI alumna.
  • Smith, Ruby T., caretaker and volunteer who received her GED at age 85.
  • Stringer, C. Vivian, head coach, UI women’s basketball from 1983 to1995.
  • Wing, Adrien, faculty, UI College of Law.
  • Wood, Mary, first African American executive director of a metropolitan YWCA.

GRIGGS, CREOLA BAKER (1913-1994) AND MAXINE BAKER (1915-1998).

Residents of Clarinda, Iowa. Videocassette, 1990.

A POLITICAL DIALOGUE: IOWA’S WOMEN LEGISLATORS

Oral history transcripts, 1988-1993. 1.7 linear feet.

Interviews with women who served in the Iowa General Assembly conducted by Suzanne Schenken. Includes interview with A. June Franklin, who served in the Iowa General Assembly from 1966 to 1972.

“WE ASK NO SPECIAL FAVORS.” Interviews with African American families in Clarinda, Iowa. Videocassette, 1993 [V122].

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Selected Collections Relating to African Americans

BERAN, JANICE A. (1931- ).

Papers, 1975-1998. 2 linear feet.

Professor in the College of Education at Iowa State University until her retirement in 1994. Materials relate to the history of sports, and particularly the participation of women and African Americans in Iowa sports.

FURGERSON, PENNY (1936- ).

Papers, 1971-1999. 10 linear inches.

Native of India who founded the Gateway Dance Theatre, a Des Moines-based company specializing in multiethnic dance, with her husband Lee Furgerson in 1972.

IOWA NURSES ASSOCIATION.

Records, 1904-1989. 83 linear feet.

Founded in 1904 to promote standardized nursing education; works for better working conditions and to improve the status of nurses.

IOWA WOMEN’S HALL OF FAME.

Records, 1980-1994.10 linear inches.

Established by the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women in 1975, the organization recognizes women from Iowa who have contributed their ideas, talents and skills to others.

NOBLE PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION.

Photographs, 1870s -1970s. 5 linear feet.

Postcards and photographs of various Iowa subjects. Includes the work of professional women photographers in Iowa, with biographical information.

ODELL, MARY JANE (1923- ).

Papers, 1941-1987. 1.5 linear feet.

Host of public affairs radio and television programs from the 1950s to the 1970s in Des Moines and Chicago. Iowa Secretary of State from 1980 to 1986.

WOMEN AGAINST RACISM COMMITTEE.

Records, 1981-1998. 4 linear feet.

Multiethnic group founded in 1981 by women from The University of Iow


Printed Materials in the Iowa Women’s Archives

Hopson, Mary Louise Vaughn Shirley. Come Taste the Sugarcane: A View from the Staircase with Dialogue.  [PS3558.0685 C65 2004].

Hopson, Mary Louise Vaughn Shirley. The Pinder Poet: Cherishing This Heritage. [PS3558.0685 P56 1997].

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