Preserving Latina History in Iowa

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Despite their significant presence in Iowa, Latinas remain largely invisible in our state’s history due to the lack of historical documents available to researchers. Since 2004 the Iowa Women’s Archives has gathered and preserved materials that document the lives of Latinas and their contributions to Iowa history.

Few people realize that Mexicans 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. Today Iowa is home to Latinos and Latinas from many countries whose work reflects a wide range of occupations and professions.

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.

Please visit the Collections relating to Latinas to learn more about the materials held in the Iowa Women’s Archives which preserve the history of Latinas in Iowa.

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