Release: February 1998

Gift to Iowa Women’s Archives will preserve rural and farm history

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A contribution of $40,000 from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) to the University of Iowa Libraries will help preserve the stories and accomplishments of the state’s rural and farm women.

The Farm Bureau contribution, made through the UI Foundation, provides the first year of funding for an archivist to undertake a two-year documentation project for the Louise Noun – Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women’s Archives at the UI Libraries.

The archivist will travel throughout the state to collect and preserve personal papers, letters, photographs, memorabilia and other materials that tell the history of rural and farm women in Iowa from the nineteenth century to the present. According to Kären M. Mason, curator, the Archives is seeking candidates for the two-year archivist position.

“Collecting these materials is an important consciousness-raising project,” Mason said. “Many women believe their lives have been insignificant. By gathering the papers of rural and farm women from all corners of the state, including those now working off the farm, we will illuminate the vital roles these women have played in our state’s history.”

Mason said the collected materials will be available at the Iowa Women’s Archives to students, scholars and others interested in researching women and farm issues. Guides to each collection within the project will be accessible globally through the World Wide Web.

Sheila D. Creth, university librarian, said, “We’re grateful to the Farm Bureau for funding that will allow the Iowa Women’s Archives to give increased and special attention to collecting the papers of farm and rural women and their organizations.” Creth added, “In addition to the richness that these papers will bring to the Archives, this project also fulfills a desire by co-founder Mary Louise Smith to ensure that the contributions of these women to their communities and the state of
Iowa are preserved.”

The IFBF is the state’s largest general farm organization and is dedicated to improving net farm income and the quality of rural life in the state. More than 159,000 Iowans are IFBF members. Other contributions have been made by the IFBF to the UI, including support for the School of Social Work, College of Law and College of Medicine.

The Iowa Women’s Archives was founded in 1992 to identify, collect, preserve, and make available the personal papers and organizational records of Iowa women from all walks of life. Located in the Main Library at the UI, the Archives is open to the public. For more information about donating materials or using the collections, contact Kären M. Mason, curator, at (319) 335-5068.